Une ville avec une histoire antique

Biking Opportunities near Grenoble
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Note: St-Laurent is one of the oldest churches in Grenoble.

And HERE are some other Churches

Looking ENE up river (Pont Marius Gontard) -- Note Steeple of old monestary church, defiled during Révolution (now a museum) -- Other Direction (downstream on the Isère) -- Part-way up the Hill -- from Vercors (dusk) -- Map -- Many more pics and pic links

Search for Grenoble -- Note: If some links below will not work,
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Grenoble sponsored the Winter Games of 1968. It is close to other French Winter Olympic sites such as Albertville and Chamonix. The city of Grenoble is the capital of the Department (or province) of Isère, a region north of and separate from Provence. The term Franco-Provençal refers to a distinctive group of dialects still spoken northeast of Provence, extending slightly into Switzerland and Italy, an area which includes Isère. The bridge at Claix, le Pont-de-Claix, is upstream (south) from Grenoble on the Drac river. Drac is the local name for a winged serpent or dragon, originating from a Latin word borrowed from the Greek term for a great serpent, drakõn. The appellation Drac refers to its fierceness and unpredictability due to the the mountain runoff that feeds it. Steep mountains, the Alps, surround the Isère valley. Grenoble and the Isère region share a reputation with Lyon as being centers of the Resistance during the last world war; but, such independent spirit has roots well back into times past.

The larger Provençal region, which encompassed historically Grenoble, extended significantly north of its current speech area, and its standard written style bridged many local dialects. The Provençal literature of the 11th to 15th centuries is quite distinct and includes the noted poetry of the troubadours. The standard (literary) language began to wane as France established dominion over the south in the 14th century. It was not until the 19th century that the poet Frédéric Mistral led the movement to reestablish a standard for literary Provençal.

Gateway to the Alps

Le Dauphiné Libéré, with a circulation of about 400 thousand, is the region's chief newspaper. Its name reflects the period in history when the area around Grenoble, then independent of France, underwent forced political consolidation instigated by the Capetian monarchy -- that is when the southern portion of the middle Frankish kingdom was forcibly united with the kingdom of the west. The first step in the political incorporation focused on the Cathari (or Albigenes), a religious sect. A close by monastery of the Carthusians, La Grande Chartreuse (founded in the 11th century), today is known best for a type of liqueur, not radical political theology. The incentive for a 13th century crusade against the heretics was, as it always was, land. Provençal culture underwent extensive change after this event, with northern French nobility being given new property for the victory in the south. In time, the Crown annexed the independent trading center of Lyon in 1307. After being removed from Provence, Grenoble became the capital of an independent feudal province, Dauphiné, which later passed to Philip VI-the first Valois monarch in 1349. The province, thereafter, was ruled exclusively by the Crown Prince of France, the eldest son of the King, the Dauphin.

So, after this, you may ask what is the point of all this today. The last of the Valois kings were replaced during the Protestant revolution (better known as the Religious Wars). It was these Wars and the later breach of promise for religious tolerance by Louis XIV, which resulted in mass migrations from France of much of its skilled merchant class. It was the excesses of that monarchy that launched the French Révolution, which began (June 7, 1788) just a few miles south, down the road from Pont-de-Claix near Vizille. The village of Vizille is home to the Musée de la Révolution Française, a rich depository of archival and rare materials devoted to the Revolution that changed Europe. History, my friends, has too many coincidences to call it a random process, evolutionary in nature.

Want to know more? -- -- This information in some context.

American Jazz -- Soirée Gershwin, salle Messiaen (17 octobre 2007): Après une Rhapsody in Blue pour deux pianos, interprétée par Tatiana Baklanova-Feeley et Hugues de Nolly, les arrangements rigoureux et les improvisations farfelues de l'ensemble Est/West, dirigé par Fabrice Lelong et accompagné par Roberto Negro ... Dégustation menée avec la collaboration précieuse de François Morel, rédacteur en chef de la revue Le Rouge & le Blanc. © 2007 Le Millesime - Festival oenologique et musical de Grenoble Coté festival off, on dit que George Gershwin, le génial autodidacte américain se mesurera aux chevaliers de la table ronde (de Bourgogne) !   C'est la 13ème édition, elle portera chance à l'équipe du Festival et aux festivaliers. Bons vins, bons concerts et soleil d'automne devraient être au rendez-vous …

Old Road Network


"O Claix ! charmant séjour, ô ma chère commune !"
Comme on le comprend !
Avant que la décrépitude
Pose sur mon cerveau son lugubre éteignoir,
Je vais, pour me distraire, esquisser une étude
Sur mon gentil hameau, sur mon pauvre manoir.

Modern Transportaion
A Line goes to Pont-de-Claix

The former Rhône-Poulenc (RP) chemical plant at Pont-de-Claix is located 8km (5miles) south of Grenoble on the eastern bank of the Drac River. The geology of the area is characterized by glacial materials several hundred meters thick that rest on a scoured rock floor. The site encompasses 183 hectares. To the east is the Collines or hills trail at the foot of the Champagnier hill, which rises about 500 feet above the valley. The Romananche canal also follows the foot of the hill. To the south is the national railroad property, including the Pont-de-Claix station. Homes apartments and other industrial areas border the the site, which is now generally owned and operated by Rhodia SA, spun off from RP in the late 1990's.

The site has a long history of industrial activities:
-- The first installation was built in 1915 for chlorine production.
-- The site grew after the first World War. Products produced during the next twenty five years inluded: bleach, monochlorobenzene, dichlorobenzene, copper chloro-oxide, tetrachloroethane, trichloroethene, polychloronaphthalenes, phenol and xylenol based hydrogenated compounds, cyclohexanone, methylcyclohexanone, hydrogen and tin tetrachloride, dichloroethane, pentachlorophenol, PCB's and isopropanol.
-- Following the second World War the plant expanded further and reached its greatest size by 1971. Additional organic products were made, such as malathion for agricultural use.
-- During 1968-1972 10 electric turbines were installed for cogeneration. Several boilers have been added, the lastest an electric one in 1985. The facility is known today as the CEV. It supplies electricity and steam.
-- In recent years production volumes have decreased and product mix has changed. Late 1990's production inludes: chlorine, high quality caustic, hydrogen, refined brine and bleach; sub-products of hypochloric acid production; carbon oxide; toluene and hexamethylene diisocyanate; isopropyl acetate; diphenylpropane; nitro cumene; aluminum ethyl phoshite; chlorophenols; urea; monochloropropionic acid; tolonate. Also, the site contains a liquid waste incinerator and an upgraded electric generating system (CEV-gas turbines). In 1996 three turbines were replaced and CEV efficiency improved. The CEV is connected to the French power system owned by EDF.

Rhône-Poulenc Story

Rhône-Poulenc celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1995, a century rich in French chemical industry history. It was founded by an emerging French merchant class who had great success as the terrors and economic disaster of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars subsided.

In June of 1895 chemists Prosper Monnet, Auguste Gilliard and Jean-Marie Cartier founded Société Chemique des Usines du Rhône, [Rhône Factories Chemical Company]. Monnet, Cartier, and Marc Gilliard (the father of Auguste) had previously worked together near Geneva to develop and produce dyes. The Saint-Fons site on the Rhône, south of Lyon, would be their first new factory to make dyes from coal-tar chemistry. Base chemicals such as phenol, salicylic acid and vanillin still are produced by RP today.

Part of the Company began in medicines and home remedies, a drugstore business which took on the sale chemical supplies for photography after 1837. The two partners, Pierre Whittmann and his son-in-law Étienne Poulenc, as well as Étienne's three sons, turned to research and manufacturing, creating a business that would be known as Établissements Poulenc Frères. The merger of these two companies in 1928, along with various additional acquisitions, have established RP as a premier chemical and drug company.

In the 1920's the Company began to work with the Gillet family of Lyon to make artificial silk. The Gillet family manufactured dyes and textiles. The processes for making new fabrics and leather dyes led to the manufacture of new compounds such as acetic acid, tin dichloride and sodium phosphate. The Pont-de-Claix factory (usine) was originally established near Grenoble by the Société du Chlore Liquide, which produced chemical weapons (phosgene-based) in response to the German chemical attacks in the Great War. These assets lie in the Rhône River watershed near Hauterives on a tributary called the Galaure and at le Pont-de-Claix on another tributary, the Drac. The original owner was Rhodia Chemie, a subsidery of Rhône-Poulenc.

The Gillet family acquired Usine du Pont-de-Claix in 1919 and changed its entire chemical holdings to the name Progil in 1920. After the war Progil expanded into petrochemical and agricultural fields. Phosgene (from the reaction of chlorine gas and carbon monoxide over an activated carbon catalyst) still is used at the site to produce chemicals like hexamethylene diisocyannate (HDI) and toluene diisocyannate (TDI).

Progil joined RP in stages between 1969 and 1975 (nominally 1972) when French President Pompidou made RP the centerpiece in the reorganization of the entire French chemical industry. Despite the reorganization, RP was nationalized in 1982 under François Mitterrand. It began the process of privatization again in 1986, which was completed in 1993. In recent years, RP has spun off its basic chemical business to Rhodia and RP has merged with Hoechst A.G. to form Adventis -- a situation very much related to and discussed in our history of Celtic Germany.

The plant at Pont-de-Claix is connected by chemical and brine pipelines with Hauterives (Department (or province) of Drôme), a country village with about 1100 inhabitants. It rests at the foot of steep hills (high banks) in a peaceful river valley. The town is most famous for le Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval, a stone, concrete and shell structure (et classée monument historique), defying simple description, which took one man 33 years to build. In 1965 an affiliate of what was then Progil, "Sopachimie et Compagnie Les Salines du Sud Est", obtained salt from its first brine well. The salt strata lies about one mile beneath the valley floor. This salt is disolved in water and piped to the factory at Pont-de-Claix. Similarly, a chemical feedstock, stored in mined-out salt domes, is piped to the site near Grenoble.

Lyon -- Voiron -- Saint-Étienne, Clermont-Ferrand et Valence -- Roman Vienna lies just south of Lyon -- Hautrive -- Digne-les-Bains & Embrun -- Die, Gap & Briançon -- Pays des Écrins (situé dans la vallée de la Durance en aval de Briançon) -- Chamonix, Annecy, Aix-les-Bains, Chambéry and Albertville -- Geneva

Pictures of Paris -- More Pictures of Paris -- Paris Environs -- And HERE

And HERE a Grande Place -- Try this, too

Current Newsletter Link

New: Long Ago in a Galaxy, far, far, away (1997)
Substantially Revised last: 08/22/08