Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Marvelous Day in the Vercors Mountains with Olivier Rival

On Saturday morning we finally got the chance to meet long-time internet friend Olivier Rival in person for the first time.

Olivier lives on France's West Coast near the city of Biarritz. I first met Olivier due to his connection with his French American football blog now known as

This website is the place to go to find out all of the latest about what is happening in all four levels of American football in Gaul.

At 9:00 a.m., he picked us up at The Villa to take us for yet another wonderful drive through the mountains and countryside near Grenoble where he grew up. Our travels would take us Southeast of Lyon into the rugged Rhône Alps area.

The village of Roybon has a
small copy of the Statue of Liberty?

Indeed it does!

The reason for this is that the statue's French creator, Auguste Bartholdi, wanted to thank Roybon's citizens for the very tall trees that they provided as scaffolding and support while the original statue was being built.

A Church in Roybon

Ominous Skies and Green Landscapes
were the Rule of the Day

Fortunately, we stayed dry throughout the voyage.

St-Marcellin is the home
of one of France's Greatest Cheeses

We were close but we would venture in a slightly different direction. 

The old Church and Abbey in
St-Antoine l'Abbaye


Cute Little Lady

Old Abbey Door

The Church's Entry Arch

As usual, many of the heads on the lower levels are missing, due to anti-Catholic Church sentiments on the part of Protestrants in the religious wars of the 16th century.

Happy Easter!


He was a holy hermit living in Egypt. The pig is a symbol of his being the Patron Saint of Butchers.

Love this guy!!! 

Mean Looking Cleric

Mr. Christopher

The Entire Point of Christianity

A Pieta

Olivier Rival in the Eglise St-Antoine
l'Abbaye Entry Path

Eglise Abbatiale de St-Antoine

The Camino de Santiago
runs through St-Antoine l'Abbaye

Take that David Lassen!

Serene Setting

Wisteria is EVERYWHERE in France
at this time of the year

Another Grand View of
St-Antoine l'Abbaye

Decorate your doorway with
flowers growing out of your wall

After a quick café, we were off again, this time to . . .


A very interesting village that seems to always want to go for a swim.

Pont-en Royans'
refreshing riverside pond

With our great tour guide Olivier

Olivier grew up on his family's walnut farm that was in this general area, so his knowledge of the geography and history of the region was extensive, making for a great trip.

I wonder if anyone has ever
jumped into the river from a house?

Balcony in need of repair?

Vercors Valley
Village of Vassieux

The Vercors Plateau is a very rugged part of France that was well protected from the outside world due to its extreme mountainous makeup and only six small roads, some carved out of the rocks, that led into it.

During World War II, it became a hotbed of the French Resistance due to its easy defense from invasion by land.

The German Army feared that this valley could easily be turned into an Allied airstrip after D-Day so they needed to secure it, but how? They knew that they would face tough odds with a land based assault through any and/or all of the six small, easy to defend mountain roads. It was time for the Nazi's Plan B.

They landed large amounts of troops via silent gliders catching the Resistance fighters completely by surprise. The German's executed most of the people that they found here in late July of 1944.

The town that you see in this picture, Vassieux, was completely burned out and its citizens were all executed. What you see is the new town that was rebuilt after WWII.

The Sobering Resistance Cemetery

Parts of  one of the
original Nazi gliders

79 Years Old When Executed

A Total of 750 Citizens of the
Vassieux died in this Nazi Raid

The end result was that the Resistance was broken and the German Army took over the Plateau. Three weeks later, when the Allies landed in the South of France, the German troops were ordered to evacuate the area before any potential battle with the Allied troops ever occurred.

So, 750 people died in vain in this one town as well as nearly 2,500 more citizens in other Vercors Plateau villages . . . tragic.

Lunch in La Chapelle-en-Vercors

We found a local's crêperie just down the rue from here that was cozy and served very good fare.


This village was also razed by the Nazis in the Velcors raid at the end of July, 1944. Except for the little chapel, it was never rebuilt.

A Valchevrière Home

Serene but Sobering

Hard to believe that such horrible acts of war happened in such a peaceful landscape.

Grenoble's Grand
Knight Bayard

Our tour's last stop was in Grenoble's old quarter for a quick walk and, of course, a café.

We can not thank Olivier enough for hosting us today. We saw sights of great interest, beauty and reflection that are well off the usual well beaten tourist path.

France . . . WHAT A COUNTRY!!!

After returning to The Villa to freshen up, we rejoined Olivier for dinner at the Brasserie Georges.

We shared bottle of
fine French red wine

Olivier's delightful wife Carole joined us as did Falcons Strong Safety Fred "Papy" Bastiand (hence the wine selection) and Alexis Girault who plays for the local collegiate American football team, the Apaches.

We were in for another enjoyable two plus hours.

Preparing Steak Tartar
at our table

Steak Tartar
Ready for Consumption

Laurie opted for a grilled steak while I went with a pork dish that also had suffered the flame. Olivier and Carole were our two more adventurous diners.

Laurie was happy with the
day's events

Brasserie Georges'
Signature Dessert

This is one half of the La Célèbre Omelette Norvégienne Flambée that I shared with my bride. In the USA we would call it a Baked Alaska.

A delicious end to another glorious day in our beloved France!


David said...

I've decided the Camino has franchised its routes and is sort of the Starbucks of pilgrimage.

Let me know the next time you're someplace that isn't on the route.

Olivier R said...

only two small mistakes George! St antoine's church statues were destroyed by protestants during the fierce religious wars of the 16th century and the 750 deaths are only the ones of vassieux, many more, probably 2-3 thousands people died during the end of July German attack of the plat

Olivier R said...

Plateau! And for David: actually the Camino is everywhere as a pilgrim is on it as soon as he leaves his house to go to Santiago! In France we say " all tracks go to Rome" but they all go to Santiago too!