Friday, August 22, 2008

Lyon (Lugdunum) and its rivers - Geography


The Lyon metropolitan area is the largest in the Rhône-Alpes region and lies in the natural plain of the Rhone Valley. In terms of waterways, the Rhône-Alpes region is among the best served in France. An abundant water supply has made the Alpine valleys and rivers the major vectors for the development of energy production for the area.

The Rhone valley has always been a major axis for road and river traffic and it can be considered one of France's most vital hubs of international connections - with many Alpine passages, navigable waterways, highways, tunnels and airports. Lyon has taken full advantage of the Rhone Valley's developed network of infrastructures: Lyon Saint-Exupéry international airport, the highly developed TGV network and a freeway system. The local authorities are further developing the urban public transportation system.

The city's geography is dominated by two large hills, one to the West (Fourvière, known as "the hill that prays") and one to the North (Croix Rousse, "the hill that works"); two rivers with very different characters, Rhône and Saône, that join at the southern part of the historic city core to flow down to the Mediterranean Sea; and a large plain which stretches to the East.

A continental climate marks the Rhone corridor with hot summers and hard winters. The Alps to the east, the Massif Central to the west and the Jura's Mountain Range to the south are subject to the climatic variations.

The confluence of the two rivers (Saône on the left and Rhône on the right). Source:

The alpine Rhône is fast with a light blue color. Its once tumultuous waters were tamed by hydroeletric plants. The Saône, a tributary of the Rhône with many meanders and a darker water color, has a placid character embedded with history.

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