Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 04, 2011: Vizille - Revolution, Picnic, Pierre Percée, Lacs

Yay - another day trip today!

Viv, Linda and I met up in the nearby town of Vizille. Like all French towns it has an historic château, but this one is bigger than usual (the grandest in the Dauphiné region), and houses a museum of the French Revolution, which makes it rather special. It was chosen for this role because the Revolution was kicked off there in 1788, after the Assemblée des notables (the factions who revolted against the monarchy) met to forge their alliance. They would have met in Grenoble, but were forbidden, so decamped to nearby Vizille - this is a proud boasting point for the Grenoblois.  Memories of studying the French Revolution came back as we strolled through, looking at Revolutionary-era art, porcelain and other historic artifacts.

After our museum tour we had a picnic in the surrounding grounds, which are gorgeous. It was fun to see Canada geese floating about with the black and white swans in the river.

Then we headed down the road to the Lacs de Laffrey region of four scenic lakes. They are an amazing colour of turquoise blue, and looked especially pretty on such a sunny day.

We also took an unplanned detour to the Pierre Percée. We didn't know what it was, but lots of signs pointed to it, so we drove up and parked the car. When we got out a hiking group was coming down the hill, and they said it was a 40-minute walk up a decent road, with great photo opportunities at the end. So we went for a spontaneous hike and discovered a large rock with a large hole in the middle perched on top of a hill - it is described as having the shape of a crouching monster. You can imagine that people living in the area must have been making the journey to visit it for thousands of years since it is such an unusual landmark. It is one of the Seven Wonders of Dauphiné (I've now seen three; this, and the Tour Sans Venin and the Cuves de Sassenage).

A tunnel through a rock outcrop that the Château backs onto - if only the château wasn't there they could have avoided making the tunnel at all

Reflection of the château in the river in the surrounding grounds

Black and white swans together!

The rounded forested mountains in the background oddly reminded me of Hawaii

Imposing staircases leading up into the château

Linda and Viv (I should have zoomed in, but it's so hard to resist including the turret)

A view over the grounds where we picnicked

Inside the museum - a room entirely decorated in black and white

A carved dolphin over the fireplace (the dolphin is the symbol of the Dauphiné region)

The famous painting of Marat's death by Jacques-Louis-David

One of the lovely turquoise lakes

The Pierre Percée from a distance

I like how the lone black and white cow is paralleled by the lone stone on the hill

The crouching demon rock

The view through the rock

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