Rhône-Alpes is one of the border regions of France, located in the south-eastern part of the country, and taking its name from the two geographical landmarks in the region, the river Rhône and the magnificent Alps mountain range. Its French neighbours are the regions Bourgogne, Franche-Comté, Auvergne, Languedoc-Roussillon, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. The eastern border with Italy and Switzerland is marked by the west end of the Alps, a part that also includes their highest peak, the Mont Blanc.
By far the most important city in this region is Lyon, second only to Paris in terms of size and population. In fact, Lyon, along with other two major cities in this region, Grenoble and Saint-Étienne, is one of the economic hearts of the region, concentrating upwards of 1.5 million people in the city itself and surrounding satellite towns. Another city worthy of note is Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, a choice tourist resort since the beginning of the XX century.
The Rhône-Alpes region, one of high logistic and economic importance for France – actually ranking sixth in terms of economic development amongst all the other European regions- is subdivided into eight departments: Ain, a major transit area for national and international commodities; Ardèche, corresponding to the former province of Vivarais; Drôme, part of the former province of Dauphiné and home to the infamous courtesan Diane de Poitiers; Isère, which bears the same name as the French ship used for transporting the Statue of Liberty across the Atlantic; Loire, crossed from north to south by the homonym river; Rhône, situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers; Savoie, boasting the deepest lake located entirely on the territory of France, namely Lac du Bourget; and Haute-Savoie, host of the first Winter Olympic Games, held here in 1924 in Chamonix.
The Rhône-Alpes region has a thriving economic life, relying partly on agriculture, partly on a great diversity of industries, and partly on tourism. People come here to enjoy the breath-taking sceneries, to ski, to hike, to visit cultural landmarks such as Grenoble, Saint-Étienne, Lyon– a UNESCO world heritage site, to study at the renowned universities of Lyon or Grenoble, or to savour the fine French cuisine and equally fine wines that are so well represented here.
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