Vizille, Isère, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Vizille is a French commune located, geographically in the Romanche valley, administratively in the department of Isère and in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Vizille have a fascinating history of resistance, from Allobroge warriors to the Resistance fighters of the Second World War, from the Vizille Assembly which laid the foundations of the French Revolution to the industrialists who mastered the terrible force of water, successive generations have competed in tenacity.

Formerly attached to the province of Dauphiné and cradle of the French Revolution and located on the Route Napoléon, Vizille is home to the French Revolution Museum, housed in the castle of François de Bonne (1543-1626), Duke of Lesdiguières, last Constable of France, governor of Dauphiné, former lord of the place.

Place of Resistance during the Second World War, the town was liberated by local fighters. Vizille has a past rich in historical events which today still show the presence of this castle of the xvii th century and its area that were, for over a century, one of the official residences of the President of the French Republic.

The major part of the Vizillois territory and almost all of the urbanized area are located in a basin formed by the Romanche, a river which runs along the municipal territory in its western limit. The central village which is articulated mainly to the north and north-west of the castle domain (which occupies a large area of the municipal territory), has many so-called “town” houses as well as low-rise buildings grouped into blocks and having for main purpose of private housing.

From antiquity to the Revolution, Vizille became linked to an ideal of patriotism and courage in the face of the invader. During the Second World War, a newspaper of the resistant press took the name of this Gallic people. He is still today synonymous with the spirit of independence and freedom, and the founder of an Alpine culture.

The Dauphinoise period
The Counts of Grésivaudan install the first Château on the Rocher de Vizille. Guigues III, the first to be called Dauphin, died at the castle of Visiliae in 1128. Vizille was partly land of the Dauphins and partly land of the Bishop of Grenoble. It was against Bishop Aymon de Chissay that in 1378, the Vizillois rose up. They no longer support the harshness of his administration and Vizille starts the popular uprising. The bishop is besieged in his Palace and takes refuge in Chambéry. The King of France restores order.

The Wars of Religion
Then comes the era of the Wars of Religion in the 16th and 17th centuries. The strategic importance of Vizille will make it a subject of war for several decades. Taken and recaptured, the town passed into the hands of Catholics and Protestants, until the day when the Vizillois found their “master”: François de Bonne de Lesdiguières, leader of the Protestants of Dauphiné. Henri IV appointed him lieutenant general of Dauphiné, Marshal of France, Peer and Duke of Lesdiguières and finally, after his abjuration, Grand Constable of the King’s Armies, Governor of Picardy Bourbonnais and Artois. He bought the Terre de Vizille in 1593 and had the current castle built from 1611 to 1620 in an immense park of 130 hectares.

French Revolution
In June 1788, Grenoble revolted. Feeling threatened by the rise in the price of foodstuffs, families protest and instruct members of the Dauphiné parliament to bring their demands to the attention of the King of France Louis XVI. These parliamentarians get nothing from the Parisian ministers and are kicked out of the city of Grenoble. Popular anger is swelling. On June 7, 1788, the governor of Dauphiné sent his garrison to suppress the Grenoble rioters who climbed onto the roofs and threw down a rain of tiles on the soldiers. It is the famous “Tile Day”, the first germ of the revolt which will become Revolution.

On July 21, 491 representatives of the Three Orders of Dauphiné – 50 priests, 165 nobles and 276 representatives of the Third Estate, including Mounier and Barnave – meet at the Château de Vizille in the Jeu de Paume room. “Vizille, cradle of the Revolution or of freedom”, these qualifiers show the immense impact of the Vizille Assembly because it goes beyond the framework of a province, it launches an appeal to the whole Nation to define by the way from the Estates General a new political order, a vast movement which would end in the upheavals of the summer of 1789 and the fall of the absolute monarchy.

Napoleon and the Hundred Days
Having left Golf-Juan on March 1, 1815, where he landed from the Island of Elba, Napoleon went up the Alpine road with a thousand soldiers. It is on March 7 at noon in the “meadow of the meeting” in Laffrey (7 km from Vizille) that the Royalist soldiers wait with their knees on the ground ready to fire. Napoleon alone in the face of his fate comes forward and says: “Soldiers, if there is one among you who wants to kill his emperor, here I am!”. Fire! Shouts the young Captain Randon and here is a huge cry: “Long live the emperor!”

Shortly after, Napoleon enters Vizille, he is immediately surrounded by the crowd, the enthusiasm is at its height. The mayor is waiting for him: “Sire, welcome to Vizille, it is here that the Revolution was born, it is in this castle that our representatives demanded our rights and our privileges. it’s up to you to make them respect… ”. Napoleon replied: “I only want the happiness and the glory of the French people, it is to ensure them the enjoyment of the benefits of the Revolution that I returned from the Island of Elba, count on me as I count on you ”. The same evening the Emperor will say: “Until Grenoble, I was an adventurer, in Grenoble, I was a prince…”.

During the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1815, after the episode of the Napoleon Hundred Days, it was again from Vizille that the conspiracy led by Didier to promote the return of Napoleon I would start. It will fail in a bloodbath at the gates of Grenoble.

The industrial revolution
From antiquity one found along the alpine rivers of mills, beaters, forges, swifts actuated by a wheel set in motion with the simple weight of the water falling from a certain height. In the 11th century, there were blacksmiths, cordeliers and saddlers who used its waters on the banks of the Romanche. There was also a lot of wood nearby in our forests and very many mines. At the end of the 18th century, an enterprising bourgeois from the region, Claude Perier, bought the abandoned castle from the descendants of Lesdiguières and set up a fabric printing factory there.

From 1824, the Romanche valley attracted the metallurgical industry. The paper industry follows a few decades later. At the turn of the following century, the first hydroelectric power stations exploiting the force of the Romanche waters supplied electric furnaces and electrolysis tanks. In the 19th century, Vizille had become the most industrialized city in the Northern Alps. The springs, gushing from all over Vizille, produced limpid, clear and beautifully pure water. A considerable and inexhaustible force. Once introduced into its pipes, white coal, as it is called, transformed its energy into electricity. Then the next advance was the transmission of electricity. This is again a discovery made by Marcel Desprez, between Vizille and Grenoble (1883-1884). White coal competed with black coal. It is also the beginning of trams, the improvement of communication routes, the paper industry, textiles, shoes…

The labor force was very cheap and hard at work. It came free of charge from the surroundings of Vizille, Oisans, Matheysine, the south of Grenoble and when that was not enough, we would look for it abroad and the valley becomes a place where we speak Russian, Italian, Chinese… The working conditions were difficult in the many factories of Vizille where there were several thousand workers, but also workers, one of whom, Lucie Baud was one of the figures of unionism from the start. of the 20th century and led to severe strikes.

In 1916, chemical factories were set up in Jarrie and Pont-de-Claix. An industrial epic to discover at the Chemistry museum in Jarrie, at the Romanche museum in Livet-et-Gavet and at the Formerly museum in Champ-sur-Drac.

The Resistance in WWII
As early as 1942 resistance groups were created in Vizille: Combat, Francs Tireurs et Partisans (FTP), Secret Army… Once again the repression was terrible: on February 17 and 18, 1944 the German army surrounded Vizille, around twenty Vizillois were arrested and deported, several others were shot dead.

On August 22, 1944, it was with arms in hand that the Vizillois, helped by members of the FTP, the Maquis de l’Oisans and the allied armies, liberated their town. Many of them were killed during the fighting that took place during the assault on Vizille and in the Romanche valley. On September 5, 1944, the Departmental Committees for the Liberation of Hautes-Alpes, Drôme, Rhône, Savoie, Haute-Savoie and Isère, resulting from the Resistance met at the Château de Vizille. Together, they affirmed during a solemn assembly “their will to realize the true republican freedoms and to establish a system of social justice”. This appeal naturally took on a particular resonance in the city of “the cradle of the French Revolution”.

An exceptional natural setting and historical destiny make Vizille a stopover that welcomes tens of thousands of lovers of beauty and heritage every year. “Cradle of the French Revolution”, the city is also for its inhabitants and visitors a place of relaxation, animation and cultural, sporting and festive events.

The RN 85, better known under the name of the Napoleon road, connects Vizille to Matheysine and to the south of the department. The RD 91 makes Vizille a privileged starting point for the Oisans resorts. A fast lane connects Vizille to the A480, for easy access to the agglomeration, to the southern bypass serving Grésivaudan and to the A51.

In a preserved living environment, urbanization on a human scale, an environment and quality equipment, Vizille fully plays its role as a city center and a center of services and activities. Numerous public services and educational (middle and high schools), sports (stadiums, gymnasiums, etc.), cultural (cinema, auditorium, media library, conference and party hall) facilities are available to the population and to the public. ‘a rich and diverse community life.

Historical heritage
The castle Lesdiguieres and the Church of Our Lady of Vizille are classified under the Historic Monuments

Old town of Vizille
Jewel of Vizille, the castle of Lesdiguières built between 1600 and 1619 is today a departmental domain. With its 100-hectare park, it forms an ensemble that houses the Museum of the French Revolution and an animal park where deer and various birds live in semi-freedom.

Gathered at the castle on July 21, 1788 by Deputy Barnave, the Assembly of Deputies of Dauphiné signs the first act of a new era foreshadowing the Estates General of 1789. Vizille becomes the “cradle of the French Revolution”.

The central village which is articulated mainly to the north and north-west of the castle domain (which occupies a large area of the municipal territory), has many so-called “town” houses as well as low-rise buildings grouped into blocks and having for main purpose of private housing. This sector also has buildings accommodating public facilities and local services (including the town hall) located near a central street called rue du Général de Gaulle (formerly Grand’rue) and which includes many local shops. the presence of a vault passing under the domain makes it possible to connect the central borough to the eastern part of the commune (districts of Allas and Corniers)

One can note in the immediate periphery of the borough, in particular in the north of this one, the presence of buildings of constructions of more modern residential type and buildings of industrial and commercial type.

Castle and departmental domain Vizille
The departmental domain of Vizille is located at the gates of Grenoble and the Oisans massif, on the RN 85 Route Napoléon. On the same site, a prestigious heritage represented by the castle of Vizille with a museum, and the park of the departmental domain of Vizille made up of gardens and an animal park. The domain is open to the public, entry is free.

The castle of Vizille, formerly the castle of the Duke of Lesdiguières which subsequently belonged to the Casimir-Perier family, becomes a residence of the Presidents of the French Republic before being sold to the General Council of Isère.

The gardens of the park of the departmental domain of Vizille extend in front of the castle over a hundred hectares. They were once private hunting grounds of the Duke of Lesdiguières. They include large expanses of lawns bordering a canal, French-style parterres, a forest with centuries-old trees of multiple species, a rose garden and an animal park of around sixty hectares. Many species of birds are found on lawns: ducks, swans, geese, herons, etc. The running waters of the canal are populated with trout and carp. A small train allows you to go around it by the bridle paths, from April to October.

The Priory
Located in the cemetery, the oldest religious establishment in Vizille, the monastery of Sainte-Marie-de-Visiliae would have already existed in the year 726. The abbey of Cluny became its owner and built a priory on this site from 993. from the church of the xii th century, it remains the most remarkable Romanesque portal facade of Dauphine, a historical monument. The lintel and the tympanum are made of Notre-Dame de Mésage marble. In the center of the carved tympanum sits Christ surrounded by the four evangelists, while on the lintel is the Last Supper. Heads and hands were removed or mutilated by Protestants during the Wars of Religion.

The straw castle
The village developed at the foot of the rocky outcrop, on a sloping and cramped space protected from the Romanche floods. This area with thatched roofs known as the “straw castle”, accessible by an alley located in front of the town hall, was partly destroyed by fire.

The castle of Roy
Accessible through the straw Castle Quarter or climb to the left of the main entrance of the castle, the ancient fortress remodeled in the xiv th, xv th and xvi th centuries, was one of the strongholds of the counts of Albon. The Dolphins stayed there frequently. In 1349, with the transfer of the Dauphiné to France, the castle became a royal castle. It was devastated by a fire at the time of Lesdiguères.

From this set remains the tower recovery in the construction of the xvi th century Lesdiguères and part of the walls that surrounded the castle. From the garden we discover a point of view over the Belledonne massif and the Vaulnaveys valley.

The Town Hall
This building which is accessed by General de Gaulle Street, was built Stalingrad Square on the site of two mansions of the late xviii th century, belonging to the family of Viennese. The symmetrical design facade is the work of architect Alfred Berruyer. A very beautiful stone baluster staircase leads to the two floors. Nearby, on the front of the Cafe de la Paix, one can notice a meridian of the xix th century, indicating the time of the year depending on the sun.

The “Marianne” of Vizille
This statue of Marianne is also referred to as the “Statue of Liberty”. This monument is located on the Place du Château, opposite the entrance to the Vizille County Domain.

It was inaugurated on July 21, 1888in the presence of President Sadi Carnot to celebrate the centenary of the Vizille Assembly. On its base are engraved a few sentences from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 as well as the names of representatives of the three orders of the Dauphiné.

Other monuments
The Sainte-Marie church, in the parish of Saint Paul de la Romanche, Diocese of Grenoble.
In the village, various old houses stand out, in particular the house with a stepped turret on rue Stalingrad.

Cultural facilities

Museum of the French Revolution
Historical monument, former home of the Duke of Lesdiguières, the Perier family and the Presidents of the Republic, the castle houses the Museum of the French Revolution. It offers a new perspective on a pivotal period in our history of the Western world, from the artistic or craft production that it sparked at the time and since. The museum presents works of art and historical objects from the revolutionary era and has been interested in everything related to or inspired by it for two centuries. The originality of the museum is above all to give an account of history based on works of art. These are not simple illustrations of the events and major players of the Revolution. Thanks to their evocative power, their content and the context of their creation.

The Museum of the French Revolution opened its doors in 1984 in the Château de Vizille. Important collections of paintings, sculptures, decorative arts of musical instruments or historical objects relating to the period of the French Revolution are gathered in the various rooms of the castle.

Each year, the museum organizes a temporary exhibition and a documentation-library center provides the public with a collection of around twenty thousand books. Installed in around twenty rooms, the museum receives around 60,000 visitors per year.

Other cultural facilities
The town has the Jules-Vallès media library, a game library, the Jeu de Paume cinema, and the House of Artistic Practices.

Events and festivities

The Revolutionary Feasts of Vizille
In July, (usually around July 20), the city of Vizille, in partnership with the Tourist Office of the town, the Community of municipalities of South Grenoblois, the Domaine de Vizille, and the General Council of Isère, each year renew the “Revolutionary Feasts of Vizille “. This event around the French Revolution has become a unique event in France with the following events in particular
Place du Château: a local producers’ market and festive events (reconstruction of revolutionary scenes)
Parc du Domaine: evocations of the Capture of the Tuileries and fireworks and / or a sound and light show in the evening
Museum of the French Revolution: lectures on historical subjects related to the French Revolution

The Children’s Film Festival
This local festival usually takes place during the school holiday period of All Saints. The primary goal of this festival is to convey to children the pleasure of going to the cinema. A large part of the public composing the jury responsible for viewing all the films are children. The program of this festival is generally around a theme (The theme is “Braver les interdits” for the 2013 edition). The screenings take place in 3 rooms, between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., for 9 days, for a total of 140 screenings over the week. The closing evening includes an award ceremony by the

Other festivals
The festival P’tits mots, p’tits mômes,March 30 at April 6, 2010
The D’ici Danse festival on 13 and May 14

Natural heritage
To the north of the Vizillois territory, the hills located in the Montchaboud sector are separated from the spine of Mont Sec which is a southern end of the base of Belledonne, by the combe de Vizille which continues north towards the thermal baths of Uriage. A set of faults known as “beam of the Vizille faults” goes in a north-east – south-west axis from the north of the village of Vizille, to the village of Pelliets to go, in turn but in a different axis, towards the Belledonne massif. South of Vizille, beyond the Romanche gorges, the hills which mark the northern end of the Conest range are traversed by a system of breaks identical to those of the Vizille bundle.

The highest point of Vizille (1,016 meters) is located to the east of the municipal territory, beyond the hamlet of Corniers on the path (GR 549) which leads to Mont Sec, on the border with the municipal territory of Séchilienne. The deposits of gypsum with anhydrite of the town have been exploited industrially, especially anhydrite as marble

Domaine de Vizille Park
The Domaine de Vizille brings together on one site, a prestigious cultural heritage and a natural setting conducive to relaxation. The landscaped park labeled “Remarkable Garden” offers a multitude of atmospheres, with original floral creations. Nearly eighty species of trees are listed: cedar from Lebanon and the Atlas, oak, maple, ash, cherry, elm, plane tree… The animal park is a privileged space for meeting nature and wildlife. It covers 40 hectares and is home to 200 deer (European deer, Asian Sika deer, fallow deer and doe) which live in semi-freedom and which can be observed from the top of the tower fitted out for this effect.

Chateau du Roy park
The ruins of the fortified enclosure of the Château du Roy (the first known written record of the existence of this castle dates from 991) are now converted into a park.

These fortifications, renovated and reinforced in the 12th century, dominate the district of the old Château de Paille.

Let yourself be surprised by the nature of the place and its thousand treasures. On the southern foothills of the Belledonne massif, the hiking trails transport you to magnificent panoramas, with changing colors with the seasons: from the virginal whiteness in winter to the blazing forests in autumn, through all the shades of green to the beautiful season. Discover the National Nature Reserve of Petit Lac Luitel. This high-altitude peat bog, unique in its ecosystem, is home to specific flora and fauna: the cordate (a small orchid that has become very rare), various species of mosses from the Ice Age, dragonflies, amphibians, etc.