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Former French Region (until 2015)
Flag of the former Rhône-Alpes region Coat of arms of the former Rhône-Alpes region
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Picardie Champagne-Ardenne Lothringen Elsass Haute-Normandie Basse-Normandie Bretagne Centre-Val de Loire Ile-de-France Burgund Franche-Comté Pays de la Loire Poitou-Charentes Limousin Aquitanien Midi-Pyrénées Languedoc-Roussillon Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Korsika Andorra Monaco Liechtenstein Österreich Luxemburg Belgien Niederlande Vereinigtes Königreich Deutschland Schweiz Italien Guernsey Jersey SpanienLocation of the former Rhône-Alpes region in France
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Basic data
Today part of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Administrative headquarters Lyon

 - total January 1, 2017
 - density

6,584,131 inhabitants
150.7 inhabitants per km²


 - total
 - share in France :

43,698 km²

Departments 8th
Arrondissements 25th
Cantons 335
Communities 2,874
Formerly ISO 3166-2 code FR-V

Rhône-Alpes [ ʀoːnˈalp ] (German Rhone-Alps ) was a region in southeastern France that was named after the river Rhone and the Alps . The region consisted of the departments of Ain , Ardèche , Drôme , Isère , Loire , Rhône , Savoie and Haute-Savoie . Then there was the Métropole de Lyon , which is equal to the départements. The region had an area of ​​43,698 km² and 6,584,131 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017). Their capital was Lyon .

After the regions of Guyane and Midi-Pyrénées, the region was the third largest in France in terms of area. In terms of population and economic power, it was in second place after the Île-de-France region .

On January 1, 2016, the Rhône-Alpes region was merged with the neighboring Auvergne region to form the new Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region .


Typical picture of the region

The Rhône-Alpes region borders in the northeast on the Switzerland and in the east on the main ridge of the Alps to Italy ( Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta ). In the south it borders on the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region . Important rivers are the Rhone , Isère and Saône . The region also shares Lake Geneva with Switzerland .

coat of arms

Description: The coat of arms is divided and shows on the left a red beflossten blue dolphin , right a silver lion : the blue shield main beam-setting five golden lilies and sign foot on the gap a red shield with a white solid common Cross .


The region is made up of historically very different areas that - apart from a common belonging to the early medieval Kingdom of Burgundy  - came to France at very different times. A distinction is made between the Lyonnais , the Dauphiné and Savoy , which only became French in 1861.

With the establishment of the regions in France, the Rhône-Alpes region was created in 1960. In 1972 the region received the status of an établissement public under the direction of a regional prefect. The decentralization laws of 1982 gave the regions the status of collectivités territoriales ( territorial authorities ), which until then had only been enjoyed by the municipalities and the départements . In 1986 the regional councils were directly elected for the first time. Since then, the region's powers vis-à-vis the central government in Paris have been gradually expanded.


With about six million inhabitants, Rhône-Alpes is the French region with the second largest population after Île-de-France .

Together with its neighboring communities, Lyon forms the third largest urban agglomeration in France with 1,348,832 inhabitants. The region also includes the agglomerations around Grenoble (with 419,334 inhabitants in twelfth place in France) and around Saint-Étienne (with 291,960 inhabitants in 18th place in France). In the north-east of the region, Annemasse and other French communities belong to the cross-border agglomeration around the Swiss Geneva with 106,673 inhabitants in the French part.

1,648,216 people live in the immediate catchment area (aire urbaine) of Lyon , 514,559 in that of Grenoble and 321,703 in that of Saint-Étienne . This means that almost half of the region's population lives in the immediate catchment area of ​​one of these three cities.

The high Alps in the east of the region and the southern parts of the region are relatively sparsely populated.


The most populous cities in the Rhône-Alpes region are:

city Inhabitants (year) Department
Lyon 516.092 (2017) Rhône
Saint-Etienne 172,565 (2017) Loire
Grenoble 158,454 (2017) Isère
Villeurbanne 147,712 (2017) Rhône
Valence 63,714 (2017) Drôme
Venissieux 65,894 (2017) Rhône
Chambery 58,919 (2017) Savoie
Annecy 126,924 (2017) Haute-Savoie
Vaulx-en-Velin 49,658 (2017) Rhône
Saint-Priest 46,207 (2017) Rhône
Bourg-en-Bresse 41,527 (2017) Ain

Political structure

The Rhône-Alpes region is divided into eight departments :

Department prefecture ISO 3166-2 Arrondissements Cantons Communities Inhabitants (year) Area
(inh / km²)
Ain Bourg-en-Bresse FR-01 4th 43 419
000000000643350.0000000000643.350 (2017)
000000000005762.00000000005,762 000000000000111.7000000000111.7
Ardèche Privas FR-07 3 33 339
000000000325712.0000000000325.712 (2017)
000000000005529.00000000005,529 000000000000058.900000000058.9
Drôme Valence FR-26 3 36 369
000000000511553.0000000000511,553 (2017)
000000000006530.00000000006,530 000000000000078.300000000078.3
Isère Grenoble FR-38 3 58 533
000000001258722.00000000001,258,722 (2017)
000000000007431.00000000007,431 000000000000169.4000000000169.4
Loire Saint-Etienne FR-42 3 40 327
000000000762941.0000000000762.941 (2017)
000000000004781.00000000004,781 000000000000159.6000000000159.6
Rhône Lyon FR-69 2 54 288
000000001843319.00000000001,843,319 (2017)
000000000003249.00000000003,249 000000000000567.3000000000567.3
Savoie Chambery FR-73 3 37 305
000000000431174.0000000000431.174 (2017)
000000000006028.00000000006,028 000000000000071.500000000071.5
Haute-Savoie Annecy FR-74 4th 34 294
000000000807360.0000000000807.360 (2017)
000000000004388.00000000004,388 000000000000184.0000000000184


In comparison with the gross domestic product of the European Union expressed in purchasing power standards , the region achieved an index of 111.2 in 2006 (EU-27 = 100).


Road traffic

The motorway network in the Rhône-Alpes region is one of the densest in France due to the region's central location in Europe. The A7 (also known as the “Autoroute du soleil”; German: sun motorway ), which lies on the Paris - Lyon - Marseille axis , is one of the busiest in France and is known for regular traffic jams.

Rail transport

Alstom Coradia Duplex Ter of the SNCF in the Rhône-Alpes regional traffic

The Rhône-Alpes region has very good connections to the French TGV network: to the south via the LGV Méditerranée in the direction of Marseille and to the north to Paris via the LGV Rhône-Alpes or LGV Sud-Est . The LGV Rhin-Rhône to Strasbourg has been in operation since December 2011 .

Local public transport

The three largest cities in the region ( Lyon , Grenoble , Saint-Étienne ) each have a tram and bus network. The capital Lyon also has a metro .

air traffic

There are several small airports in the region, many of which are mainly used by ski tourists in winter.

By far the largest airport is Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airport , followed in second place by Grenoble Saint-Geoirs Airport , which is mainly served by low-cost airlines and charter companies.

See also

Web links

Commons : Rhône-Alpes  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Status: 1999, source: http://www.insee.fr/fr/ffc/chifcle_fiche.asp?ref_id=NATTEF01204&tab_id=201
  2. Status: 1999, source: http://www.insee.fr/fr/ffc/chifcle_fiche.asp?ref_id=NATTEF01203&tab_id=205
  3. Eurostat press release 23/2009: Regional GDP per inhabitant in the EU27 (PDF file; 360 kB)

Coordinates: 45 ° 33 '  N , 5 ° 24'  E