Archive for January 31st, 2018

January 31, 2018

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur or PACA

Long name for a vast region ,again not much in trips, mostly business trips to Nice,Cannes ,Marseille, and near Monaco. Rental cars, TGV train to Marseille, and air to Nice, and Marseille. Here is why.

Now let’s go to visit a huge area, not so much change in name but so vast. My times here have been mostly on business in the last few years; been an area of sun and beaches so used to that ,my needs are intended elsewhere. However, as anything in France, this is a wonderful region and very much visited. I am talking of the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur or ,also called PACA, for short.. The main and capital city of the region is Marseille.

It includes six departments such as Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes,Bouches-du-Rhône, Var, and the Vaucluse. It has agglomerations of vast territory into two main groupings ,these are the Nice Côte d’Azur, and Aix-Marseille-Provence. The area covers old provinces of Provence and Dauphiné. Part of the Vaucluse from the old county of Venaissin and the left bank of the Var in the Alpes Maritimes once the county of Nice, the cities of Menton and Roquebrune-Cap Martin were once part of the Principality of Monaco until annexed to France in 1861.

Languages other then French shows a unique region where only the Occitane is spoken, with usually called teh Provençal . Also, other languages heard around due to immigration and or old history of the region are the Corsican, Kabyle, Maghrebin Arabic, Comorian, and Italian.

The Unesco heritage sites are Arles, roman monuments, Avignon, historical center and the Palais des Papes, episcopal area and the pont d’Avignon, Orange, antique theater and river banks as well as Arc de Triomphe, Briançon, and Mont-Dauphin fortifications of Vauban. And 7 towns of Art and History of France, these are Arles, Briançon, Fréjus, Grasse, Hyères-les-Palmiers, Martigues, and Menton.

The main airports are the Nice-Côte d’Azur and Marseille Provence both I have used. There are some minor ones such as those in Toulon-Hyéres, Avignon-Provence, and Cannes-Mandelieu. The main airports are here:

There are lines of trains but heavily crowded and a TGV from Paris to Marseille Saint-Charles that I have ,also taken. Also reaching to Avignon and Aix-en-Provence. The TER Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur serves local lines. Marseille is the only city that has metro/subway with also a tramway network as does Aubagne and Nice. The TER webpage here:

The principal expressways or autoroutes are the ‘A7 (Lyon to Marseille via Avignon), the A8 (A7 towards Nice and Italy also taken), the A50 (Marseille to Toulon), the A51 (Marseille to Gap), the A52 (Aubagne to Aix), the A54 (Salon de Provence towards Saint-Martin-de-Crau, Arles, and Nîmes), the A55 (Marseille to Martigues), and the A57 (Toulon to the A8).

The region is an important maritime destination such as the Port of Marseille the first port in France. There is also a naval base at Toulon, the largest in France.

The region page in French is here :

The tourist page in French is here:

Enjoy PACA and a picture above of the gare Saint Charles in Marseille starting my trek on foot down to the Vieux Port. Have a great week, Cheers!!

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January 31, 2018

The region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes!

Let’s talk about the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

Granted , my visits here have been on business trips or visiting the in laws family second home near Clermont-Ferrand in Auvergne, and of course crossing the region to others.  So tourist pictures are none, sorry. However , for the nature trail lover, and Lyon or to ski it has very good installations where my sons have been.

This region is taken from the old Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes regions that again under the new territorial administration of France were grouped into one, after much debate from what to do with Lyon and the auvergnants! The region is divided into 12 departments and a special metropolitan area calls a territorial collectivity of sort which is Lyon; of course. Lyon is the principal city . The departments are Ain, Allier, Ardèche, Cantal, Drôme, Isère, Loire, Haute-Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône,Métropole de Lyon,Savoie, and Haute-Savoie.

The area speaks many dialects and languages such as the Bourbonnais, Auvergnat, Franco Provençal or arpitan; all are broken down as estimated of the population that still speaks it as Bourbonnais (5 %), Auvergnat (15 %), and the rest into the langue d’oc (12 %) or occitan variations.

Going back into history, the region is very complex right now. In Auvergne three department were created such as Cantal, Puy-de-Dôme, and a mixing of areas to create the Haute-Loire. The Bourbonnais gave rise to the Allier ,Bresse, Bugey, Dombes, pays de Gex, and part of lyon area to create the Ain. The Dauphiné was divided into three departments such as the Drôme, Hautes-Alpes, and the Isère. While in the Lyon area old Generality of Lyon became the department of Rhône-et-Loire; in 1793 this department is divided into Loire and Forez et Rhône later additioning the Beaujolais, Lyonnais, and city of Lyon. Meanwhile the Vivarais becomes the department of the Ardéche. IN 1860, the duchy of Savoie is annexed to France and cut to make two departments, the Savoie and the Haute-Savoie. In 2015, Lyon and 58 other villages were separated from the department to create the Métropole de Lyon, the only in France with the status of territorial collectivity of France! You have to give it to the Lyonnais, and hope you follow me lol!

Transport is well done with the LGV going thru several cities mostly in the Rhône area and very little in the Auvergne, the network LGC Méditerranée is good too as well as the TER is as well more dense in the Rhône than in Auvergne ,always been more rural. Info on the trains in the new region is here:

The roads are excellent, and for me the best way to travel anywhere. The expressways or autoroutes such as the A6 starts and ends in Lyon ; with the road continues to the south into the Mediterranean taking the name of the A7,following the valley of the Rhône. The autoroute A46 is an alternative road to the sunshine expressway or autoroute du Soleil by the beltway of Lyon. At Lyon, we have the connections with the autoroute A40 that brings it to Geneva , and the A43 that takes you in the direction of Torino Italy passing by Chambéry, and the tunnel of Fréjus. Clermont-Ferrand is link primarily with Paris and Orléans by the autoroute A71, and you can go to Montpellier ,and Béziers by the A75. The autoroute A89 links Clermont-Ferrand with Bordeaux and also around into the Rhone Alpes area ending at Lyon via Thiers. Other towns are connected with expressways or autoroutes such as Grenoble with the A41, A48 , and A51, Saint-Étienne with the A47 and A72 or from Clermont-Ferrand with the A711, A712, A75 , and A71. Bear in mind I gave you the fastest routes or autoroutes also toll roads in many cases, there are alternatives National or N roads or Departementales or D roads that can do a more scenic ride with longer period and free of tolls.

There is a good airport at just outside Lyon call the Lyon Saint-Exupéry as well as close by the airport at Geneva can serve the region well too. The smaller airports such as at Clermont-Ferrand Auvergne, Saint-Étienne-Loire, and Aurillac welcome some traffic and the airports of Grenoble and Chambéry are primarily used for the winter season and low price airlines as well as chapter flights. I will have the main airport here:

The new region main page with tourism info is here:

And for easier reference the old version of the Auvergne tourist page here :

Rhône-Alpes a better site than the official page is this one here:

The Unesco world heritage sites on this region are:
The historical center site of Lyon, the sites prehistoric piles dwelings around the alpine lakes which we have about 9 here, the caves of Pont d’Arc, cave of Chauvet; the road to St James (Santiago) such as the Notre Dame du Port Church at Clermont-Ferrand, Notre Dame Cathedral and Hotel Dieu Saint Jacques at Le Puy-en-Velay, the architectural work of Le Corbusier with the sites of Maison de la Culture de Firminy and the convent of de la Tourette in Eveux.

And cheating ho ho ho got me a picture from my son ski trip to Val Cenis in Lanslebourg in the Savoie ::)

Enjoy the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes new region of France. Cheers!!

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