What was the importance of the Rhone Valley?
- The Rhône takes his source in one of the most prosperous part of Europe
- the Leman lake. On the border of Switzerland and France, its water is globally famous (Evian) and it is home for some of the richest company and organisations in the world (Olympic Committee, Wipo, Nestle, etc).
From Geneva, the Rhône goes down the Alps to cross what was the kingdom of Savoy, gatekeepers of the Alps. The House of Savoy was home to powerful merchants that ruled over trade in the Alps. If you continue down the Rhône, you arrive in Lyon. Located at the convergence of another river (the Saône), it was a major trade center already during the Roman empire and became one of the epicenter of European Renaissance.
The Rhône continues down South through the Drôme, where some of the most delicious fruits and delicacies of France are produced, until Avignon where Catholic popes seat for more than five centuries. Here, the Rhône enters the beautiful Provence before ending up in the Mediterranean Sea close to one of the oldest and biggest port in Europe : Marseilles.
As you see, many of these territories have been places of great wealth and power across the ages of Europe. Rhone was the link between all them. Until today, boats still navigates from the Mediterranean sea to Lyon and connections over the Alps are a key component of the economics of the region.
The rhone Valley around Lyon itself hosted various industrial clusters, from printing industry in the 16th century, to silk and textile manufacturing, becoming today the main chemical and biotech center in France. Until today, it still one of the richest region in Europe.
This text was originally published in quora.