Rhône-Alpes was one of the 27 former administrative regions of France.

It is now part of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, one of the 13 new regions created with the territorial reform that took effect on January 1, 2016.


Rhône-Alpes was named after the river Rhône and the Alps mountain range.

It includes 8 departments:

Ain (01 – Bourg-en-Bresse), Ardèche (07 – Privas), Drôme (26 – Valence), Isère (38 – Grenoble), Loire (42 – st-Etienne), Rhône (69 – Lyon), Savoie (73 – Chambéry), Haute-Savoie (74 – Annecy) and the Metropolis of Lyon (69M).

The Metropolis of Lyon was separated from the Rhône department in 2015.

However, it remains its administrative center or préfecture.

Rhône-Alpes – Historical facts

The Rhône-Alpes region has been inhabited for millennia, as evidenced by the 30,000-year old cave paintings discovered in the Chauvet Cave.

The river Rhône served for centuries as a natural boundary between the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of France.

French Alps - Rhône-Alpes
French Alps -Rhône-Alpes

Eight Gaulish tribes lived in this vast territory before the Roman colonization.

Their territories eventually evolved into small kingdoms and principalities.

The Dauphiné corresponds to the historic Province of Vienne, which was part of the Holy Roman Empire and was attached to the Kingdom of France in 1349.

The Duché de Savoie, an ancient state also part of the Holy Roman Empire, was annexed in 1860.

Bugey (one of the four natural regions of the department of Ain with Bresse, Pays de Gex and Dombes) was attached to France in 1601; it now covers most of the department.

Bresse was one of the States of Savoy from 1272 to 1601 when it was attached to France.


The Pays de Gex became a Barony of Savoy in 1353.

However, it lost part of its territory to the Canton of Geneva when it was annexed to France in 1601.

It was then established as a free zone in 1775.

Finally the Principalité de Dombes was attached in 1762.

The development of the silk industry in the 16th century triggered the prosperity of the Rhône-Alpes region.

The region has never ceased thriving since.

Rhône-Alpes today

The Lyon – Grenoble – Saint-Étienne triangle is the region’s economic pole.

The Métropole du Sillon Alpin (Alpine Corridor Metropolis) links Geneva, Annecy, Chambéry, Grenoble and Valence.

Lyon - Rhône-Alpes
Lyon – Rhône-Alpes

It consequently turns the Rhône-Alpes region into the sixth-largest economic region in Europe!

Lyon La Part-Dieu, the city’s 3rd district, has become the 2nd largest French business district after La Défense in Paris.

As a result, the Métropole was recognized as a local authority in 2015.

The Rhône Valley has always been a major communication axis linking the north of the country to the Mediterranean (impressive road and train (TGV) infrastructures).

The several natural parks, the Alps mountain range and the Mediterranean, paired with a warm and pleasant climate, are key factors in the development of tourism.

Finally the region is served by the international airports of Lyon, Grenoble and St. Etienne.

Area: 43,698 km2
Population:  6,449.000 (01/01/2014)

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