French Alps

Matt then drove north from Sisteron to Grenoble, where he spent two nights.

The scenery along this drive was more and more breathtaking as he got closer and closer to the Alps.

He stopped along the way at Montgardin, where there was once a church dedicated to Saint Gerald.
The church was destroyed during the sixteenth-century Wars of Religion in France between Catholics and Protestants, and never rebuilt.

The modern village lies atop a steep hill, and its medieval castle remains, albeit somewhat in ruin.

From the top of the hill is an amazing view up and down theAvance valley (those with wide computer screens can see all four photos in a panorama).

The modern church did contain a small relic of Saint Gerald, seen below in the center of this group of relics.

Not far from Montgardin is the town of Tallard, that boasts its own castle on the hill
above its narrow streets, another hidden gem tucked away in the French countryside.

At Auris-en-Oisans, east of Grenoble and high in the mountains, is another of the churches dedicated to Saint Gerald.
It is only a small chapel, and now closed, but it dates from the Middle Ages.

The views up and down the mountains were stunning.

The chapel sits near the top of one of these mountains, at the edge of a steep and deep valley.

The views from the chapel were astounding!

The chapel itself is a simple structure, probably built so that the people living at the
top of the mountain didn't have to make the long trip to the valley to attend church.

Grenoble itself is a vibrant and attractive city. It was named after the Roman emperor Gratian, and in the Middle Ages
it was the capital of the region of Dauphiné that was purchased by the King of France in the fourteenth century, and
only then became part of France. (After that, the heir to the French throne was always made its ruler until he
inherited the whole of France, and that is why the heir to the French throne was known as the Dauphin.)

The city seems to have prospered in the nineteenth century, and left lots of elegant buildings,
parks, public fountains, and statues from that era (note the elephants, below on the right!).

Nowadays, Grenoble participates in the global society--as is clear from this restaurant's specialty.

The old part of the city is also very appealing--lots of narrow streets, squares, and open-air cafes and restaurants.

There is even a cable car system that takes you from the city up to a nearby mountaintop.


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