9 reasons to visit Isère
In the heart of south-eastern France, Isère has exceptional natural attractions and a rich range of cultural offerings – from year-round outdoor activities to art de vivre (the art of living at the French), passing through beautiful cities to explore, including Grenoble and Vienne. Here is our selection of its slow and outdoor tourism offers.
1. Green Grenoble
Capital of the Alps and European Green Capital 2022, Grenoble continues to make great strides towards improving the sustainability of the entire Alpine territory. Grenoble Alpes Tourisme, official partner of the city, is committed to more responsible tourism and offers a program of adapted guided tours (including one on nature and biodiversity in the city), many eco-responsible activities and carbon-free holidays.
Want to explore on two wheels like the locals? Grenoble has once again been crowned Capital of Cycling by the Federation of Bicycle Users (FUB). Other activities include canoe exploration and a unique urban setting via ferratawhich begins in an old quarry just five minutes from the city center.
2. Shopping in Vienna
Vienne has the second largest permanent market in France, with 350 stalls making it a must-see destination. Every Saturday, it fills the main streets and alleys with more than 6 km of stalls. Early risers might bump into the two starred chefs who are regular visitors, Philippe Girardon and Patrick Henriroux.
If you love jazz, head to the city’s ancient Roman theatre, Cybele’s Garden and other venues for the annual festival. Jamie Cullum, Nate Smith, Michael Kiwanuka, Black Pumas, George Benson and Herbie Hancock headlined this year.
Notice to cycling enthusiasts: the future ViaRhôna cycle path along the Rhône between Saint-Romain-en-Gal and Condrieu will offer an eco-designed surface composed quite ingeniously of local gravel and a vegetable product from the paper industry.
3. Lands of Berlioz
The Terres de Berlioz region has 300 farms producing everything from saffron to beer, meat to cheese and fruit to vegetables, all of which can be purchased locally or at local markets. One of the lesser-known products is on the menu of a Michelin-starred restaurant in Lyon: squab or squab, a little-known but delicious and refined dish. Sonia Guillon, from Pigeonneau des Terres in Pajay, near La Côte-Saint-André, raises more than 400 pairs of pigeons fed mainly on cereals produced on the farm.
The composer Hector Berlioz could be called the father of the modern music festival – from 1830 he organized a series of musical events. These days, you can enjoy symphonic music at concerts in La Côte-Saint-André and throughout the Isère department in August and early September.
4. Very Vercors
The large plateau of the Vercors massif rises above the surrounding valleys like a fortress, culminating in an incredible escarpment. Behind lies a vast, richly wooded nature reserve, home to ibexes, chamois, black grouse and vultures. It is a beautiful destination to discover for nature lovers, with 4,000 km of marked hiking and hiking trails, 700 km of mountain biking circuits, 3 mountain biking sites labeled Fédération Française de Cyclisme, 50 km of greenways and scenic roads suitable for cycling, 230 km of equestrian trails, 32 canyoning sites, 31 climbing school sites, 3,000 caving spots, 8 paragliding sites, an 18-hole golf course and 16 orienteering courses.
The Vercors Regional Nature Park is multiplying projects to preserve and enhance its natural and cultural heritage, and is committed to responsible tourism and development, an approach recognized at European level by the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism brand. www.inspiration-vercors.com/fr
5. The formidable Trièves
Only one hour from Grenoble, south of Isère, is the territory of Trièves, made up of 27 villages surrounded by the mountains of Vercors and Dévoluy. There is a wide agricultural plateau and the turquoise waters of Lac de Monteynard-Avignonet – ideal for water sports such as windsurfing, fishing, kayaking and kite surfing. This territory, at the meeting of the Northern and Southern Alps, presents an exceptional natural diversity with varied plant species and abundant fauna.
The commitment to eco-tourism is strong here: the Trièves Eco-tourism Charter values accommodation and activity providers committed to an eco-responsible approach. Among them, La Poulânerie, in Prébois, where you can spend holidays on an organic farm. You can stay in the farm, a fox hut, a Kyrgyz yurt or a round straw and earth hut. The animator Mireille rents donkeys for hikes in order to share her passion for hiking with everyone.
Looking for a unique and peaceful getaway to get away from it all? Between lakes and mountains in the south of the department of Isère, the little-known territory of Matheysine is a preserved and characterful plateau between Trièves, Écrins and Dévoluy. The region also bears witness to the wealth of mining activity that has shaped its identity over the centuries. The Mine Image Museum, the Matheysin Museum and the Petit Train de La Mure highlight this aspect of history.
Climb to many passes and peaks, spot superb turquoise lakes: six lakes and reservoirs in total, plus 900 km of marked hiking trails and 800 km of marked mountain bike trails and a Bike Park. In addition, there are eight cultural sites labeled “Heritage in Isère”.
Looking for eco-responsible accommodation? The Oriel du Sénépy gîtes are isolated at the foot of the largest mountain pasture in Isère, which makes it the ideal place for “disconnected” holidays with family or friends.
This is the place for holidays at altitude: the Oisans massif in the south-west of Isère is full of majestic glaciers, crystalline lakes, natural parks, rivers and refreshing waterfalls, spaces that constitute extensive playgrounds for active visitors, with long distances. hiking, mountaineering, cycling and summer skiing on the list of great outdoor adventures. There are 24 mountain refuges to spend the night, five mountain guide offices and guides to help you discover the regions (take a 13-day hike with a bivouac on the GR54 Tour des Écrins with Cyril Valois, high mountain guide based in Bourg d’Oisans), plus 37 artisans who make up the ‘Oisans Savoir-Faire’ route.
The famous resort of Alpe d’Huez is offering free ski lifts this summer to facilitate travel from one part of the resort to another. Strategically placed lifts include Telecentre, Alpe Express and Televillage.
The Belledonne massif is a wild and preserved mountain range in the Alps extending over two departments (Isère and Savoie) and culminating at nearly 3,000 meters. Overflowing with lakes, jagged peaks, scree and mountain pastures offering a multitude of landscapes, the territory is an inexhaustible source of adventure, whether gentle or sporting. It is a real paradise and a natural backyard for outdoor activities. In Isère alone, 770 km of marked trails, nine mountain refuges and around sixty cabins without guards to spend the night. Five Natura 2000 sites and 72 Natural Areas of Ecological, Faunistic and Floristic Interest. Oh, and 70 lakes and 18 mountain passes too!
New for 2022: La Maison du Chef in Uriageles-Bains – Christophe Aribert’s new two-star Michelin hotel complex in the heart of the Uriage landscape park. La Maison du Chef is designed and built around the theme of the tree, a symbol dear to the chef’s heart.
The Chartreuse Regional Natural Park – alias “The Emerald of the Alps” – with its wild landscapes and spectacular panoramas, is at the same time mysterious, preserved and fascinating, a real place to awaken the senses, perfect for breathing in the fresh air. pure, work out or relax. Moreover, it is at the gates of Grenoble, one hour from Lyon and three hours from Paris.
New experiences are to be had here, whether gourmet, meditative or sporting, all with a unique landscape on stage. It has 1,300 km of marked hiking trails, more than 300 km of marked trails for running, more than 10 fishing sites, including major lake and river sites, and seven free flight schools.
Among the new hiking routes is “Escape into the Wild & Unusual”, a beautiful, easily accessible six-day trip with a trained guide on hand to oversee the journey. The circuit introduces hikers to the secrets of the Chartreuse: its unique landscapes, traces of history, stories of life in the past, a visit to the Grande Chartreuse museum and many other interesting places.
Find out more here: www.alpes-isere.com
Excerpt from France Today magazine
Main photo credit: The charming city of Grenoble © Pierre Jayet