Vienne/Isère, France (seit 1958)
Nestled between hills on the banks of the Rhône river is the city of Vienne. The picturesque cityscape is dominated by Mont Pipet, which provides magnificent vistas over the Rhônetal.
At the foot of the mountain is an ancient Roman theatre of considerable proportions. Each summer since 1980, the theatre has been the setting for the now internationally-renowned jazz festival, ”Jazz à Vienne”. During the time of the Roman Empire, Vienne was the second most important city in southern Gaul. In every corner of the historic city center, which today boasts around 30,000 inhabitants, traces can be found harking back as far as the Gallo-Roman era and up to the Renaissance. The network of streets remains more or less unchanged from medieval times. The narrow streets and alleyways are filled with hustle and bustle, especially on market days. Shadowy alleys, street cafés and restaurants lend the city a Southern flair.
On the right side of the Rhône is the Saint-Roman-en-Gal Museum with archaeological remains, which is also home to a center that focusses on restoring mosaics. It is with good reason that Vienne is officially able to call itself a ”ville d’art et d’histoire”, or a ”city of art and history”.
The area around Vienne was home to Gallic tribes as early as the 5th Century BC. It was the capital city of the Allobroges. They lived off the land and by processing metal, until they were defeated by the Roman army in 121 BC. The city became a Roman colony under the Emperor Caligula and part of the province of Gallia Narbonensis. The Roman Empire brought wealth and riches to Vienne. Masterpieces of art and architecture were created during the period of Roman control. In the 3rd Century AD, the city was proclaimed an archdiocese. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th Century AD, the Roman administration was entirely driven out by the Burgundians. Konrad I, King of the Burgundians, made Vienne the capital of his empire in the year 951. In 1032 the city was fully integrated into the Holy Roman Empire, and in the 15th Century became part of the French state.
Education and culture
Vienne is home to several institutions of higher education, offering a wide range of possible courses.
The atmosphere of the ”Jazz à Vienne” international jazz festival is incomparable, and attracts 100,000 visitors each year. In June and July, world-famous jazz artists wow audiences in the Roman theatre. Famous figures such as Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, James Brown, Al Jarreau and George Benson have all performed on that historic stage.
Together with neighbouring Lyon, Vienne is one of France’s most varied archaeological gems. Visitors to the Saint-Romain-en-Gal Museum can take a stroll down a Roman street and marvel at the villas of rich tradesmen, thermal springs, latrines and mosaics.
Economy and tourism
Even in ancient times, the quality of the wine from the Rhônetal region was widely renowned and even exported to Rome. Excellent wines such as Côte Rôtie, Château Grillet and Syrah can be produced from the grapes that thrive on Vienne’s sunny slopes.
The textile industry brought a period of economic upturn to Vienne during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Around 200 cloth factories sprung up on the banks of the Rhône, of which almost none survive today. Vienne has become a city that is dominated by small and medium-sized service providers. Alongside weaving mills, spinning mills, leather and shoe production, metal and chemical factories can also be found in the city. The most famous of these is Celette, which produces repair benches for cars.
Sporting opportunities include canoeing competitions, water jousting and water skiing on the Rhône, all of which attract many tourists to the city. The surrounding area is also a popular destination both for locals and tourists, boasting the Pilat Park and the hilly landscape known as the Bas Dauphiné.