Orientation - French Alps

The Alps, stretching across the frontiers of eight different countries, is best known to Americans as a winter playground  - Zermatt, Chamonix, Grenoble - and an arduous challenge of the famed Tour de France. Three of the great rivers of Europe flow in the Alps - The Rhône, the Po and the Danube. And some of Europe's most famous lakes are filled by its glaciers and snowmelt - Lake Geneva, Constance, Como, Lucerne, Maggiore among others. Feeding those rivers and lakes are literally hundreds of smaller streams rush down the mountainsides each Spring. All this makes for amazing scenery, unbelievable vistas and innumerable opportunities for leisure activities from the most challenging to mountain strolls.

But the Alps region holds much more than that.  The region of the Rhône Alps and the départements of Isère and Drôme where we visit is less touristed, more la France profonde than the busy ski villages.   Situated on the western slopes of the Alps, many of its small, lesser known villages still retain a flavor of the last century.  Nestled in these Alpine valleys are cheese makers, farmers, and woodworkers who are often overlooked by the typical tourist.  And its peaks exist in the summer for those who try caving, rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking while in it's mountain rivers others try rafting, kayaking, canyoning, and canoeing. The Vercors area, where we stay, is peppered with hundreds of caves used in World War II to as hiding places for the Resistance.

The alpine village of La Chapelle-en-Vercors, where we will be based, is officially designated, depending on the season as a "Station Verte de Vacances" and a "Village de Neige".  It sits about 1000m high (about 3,000') nestled in the middle of higher alpine peaks.  It's from this town where our exploration takes place.