Thursday, March 11, 2004

Regional trains 

One of the problems that we are having with our trip is determining how we will get around the region. Rhône-Alpes was never a province of its own: it is a modern creation in order to put something in that part of France. If anything, there are several old provinces contained within: Lyon and its hinterland, which have been vaguely associated with Provence (the notion of a "province" was invented here), and Savoy, which was annexed completely in 1860 from Piedmont-Sardinia (although there are political groups who would like to see it become independent). The territory is physically large, connecting pockets of population across vacant landscape. And part of the problem is that we want to see that landscape--especially the Ardeche, which has beautiful limestone cliffs and natural arches. It takes two and a half hours to take the train between Lyon and Annecy (below the Alps). A car with an automatic transmission would be expensive (I can only drive a standard in an emergency, which would make Karen my driver). (You can see Rhône-Alpes on this map from SNCF--it is at the southeast of France, south of Franche-Comte and north of Provence).
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