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The Rhône (department number 69) is located in the region of Rhône-Alpes and has an estimated population of 1,667,495 (approximate in 2006). Situated south east of the centre of France, the department is named after the Rhône river which flows through it, joined by the Saône in Lyon.
Where to visit in France – Rhône
The capital of the department is the city of Lyon which is also the capital of the region. Other cities include Villefranche-sur-Saône and Villeurbanne.
Why you should visit Rhône for your next holiday in France
It’s not just the wine that makes Rhône an enticing holiday destination, although wine tasting of the various Beaujolais labels can be enjoyed. The famous Beaujolais nouveau is celebrated on the third Thursday of November – a festival atmosphere is guaranteed at that time!
The department is also known for its past silk production and its heritage including the wonders in the city of Lyon. The beautiful countryside is rich in diversity and the convenient geography of the Rhône department means that not only is it scenic but it is also ideally placed on a crossroads of trade as the Rhône links the Mediterranean with the Rhineland and the Atlantic with the rest of Europe.
The Rhône-Alpes generally enjoy long warm summers which are of course colder in the higher Alps. Winters are cold with good snow cover as well as plenty of sun.
What to see in Rhône
Lyon has a Romanesque and religious heritage and boasts many magnificent monuments and more than 30 museums. Through the centuries the city has benefited from the work of many renowned architects whose works can be found around the city.
To the south of the city centre the two rivers of the Rhône and Saône converge forming a peninsula and there are two large hills, one to the west and one to the north of the historic city centre. Because Lyon has records giving information on the various periods in its history, it has therefore been registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. In the heart of the city is a botanical garden with more than 1500 different plants.
Cuisine - Known as the world's undisputed capital of gastronomy, the cuisine available in Lyon is plenty and varied and there is something to appeal to all tastes. Specialities including cervelle de canuts, soft cheese with herbs, petit salé, ham with lentils and saladiers lyonnais, assorted salads, are served in more than 1,000 restaurants throughout the city.
Shopping - Lyon rivals Paris for shopping; it is refined, chic and elegant. Lyon’s young women can be proud of having some of the most promising couturiers of their generation with major brands such as Lejaby, Lise Charmel and Zilli, and well-known designers such as Nathalie Chaize, Max Chaoul and Azuleros among others. The Carré d’Or district will keep the most exacting shoppers happy and one of the largest pedestrian shopping centres in Europe is between Rue Victor Hugo and Rue de la République.
Nightlife - At night traditional pubs sit alongside chic bars and trendy clubs across the city, along with theatres, concert halls, an opera house and a casino.
Villeurbanne is known as a university town with many colleges and universities. The most notable is the La Doua campus, the Claude Bernard University, CPE Lyon and the Institute National des Sciences Appliquees de Lyon.
It is well served by the Lyon area public transit system, as the eastern branch of subway line A runs through the city heart, and the new tramway line T1 connects the La Doua campus to the Lyon business and commercial district.
Villefranche Sur Saône
Founded in the 12th century Villefranche-sur-Saône became the capital of Beaujolais in the 14th century. After enduring three sieges in the 15th and 16th centuries, the town walls were finally demolished early in the 19th century.
The town is an important wine-trading centre for the area and is also a river port. Points of interest include the Church of Notre-Dame-de-Marais and several Renaissance houses.
The Church of Notre-Dame-de-Marais dates from the 12th century but was not finished until the 16th century. This church has two bell-towers. The church organ dates from 1835 and has 2,300 pipes. Also of interest are both the 17th century pulpit and the stained glass windows.
The sandy beach of Bordelan offers a lovely swimming area and the charm of the Saône a quiet, rustic, majestic river is a wonderful destination for walkers.
With the regional natural reserve of Pilat and on the edge of the river Rhône, Givors is a diverse territory to discover with many sign posted walking paths. There are many historical and modern monuments and architecture to view.
How to get to the Rhône department
Various international and other independent airlines operate services to Lyon
Using the excellent French motorways Calais is approximately 6 ½ hours from Lyon. The area is well served by the A72 (E70) and the A6 (E15).
SNCF operate an extensive service to the region from Paris which is just 2 hours from Lyon. A train journey to Lyon from London is between 5 to 7 hours depending on the route chosen.