The Hector Berlioz Website

Berlioz in Grenoble

Grésivaudan Valley

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    As winner of the Prix de Rome in 1830, Berlioz had to go to Italy to study there, even though for personal and musical reasons he would have preferred to stay in Paris. But the rules required that the winner spend two years in Rome; in the event his stay in Italy was much shorter. He left France for Rome on 8 February 1831, after a short stay at La Côte Saint-André, and was on his way back to France in May 1832.

    In his Mémoires (chapter 43), Berlioz recalls his feelings on arriving in the Isère region thus:

It was on 12th May 1832 [in reality at the end of the month] that I came down Mt Cenis and saw again, clad in its most beautiful spring attire, this delightful Grésivaudan valley through which the Isère winds its course, where I spent the happiest times of my childhood and was moved by the first dreams of love. Here is the old rock of Saint-Eynard… Here is the graceful haunt where the Stella montis shone… over there, in this blue mist, my grand-father’s house smiles on me. All these villas, this luxuriant greenery… it is delightful, it is beautiful, there is nothing comparable in Italy!… But my joyful impulse was cut short abruptly by a sharp pang I felt in my heart… I thought I could hear the rumble of Paris in the distance.

    The Grésivaudan Valley is situated at the foot of the Belledonne Range; Meylan faces Belledonne on the other side of the valley.

Grésivaudan Valley in pictures

Unless otherwise stated, all the photos on this page were taken by Michel Austin in 2009 and 2011; other pictures have been scanned from postcards and engravings in our own collection. © Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin. All rights of reproduction reserved.

1. Grésivaudan Valley in times past

Grésivaudan Valley in 1836
Grésivaudan 1836

(Large view)

The above engraving shows the view of the valley from the terrace of Château Bayard.

View of  Grenoble from Isle-Vert (Grésivaudan), 1870s
Grésivaudan 1870

(Large view)

The above watercolour is courtesy of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

Grésivaudan Valley in 1909
Grésivaudan 1909

(Large view)

This postcard shows the valley, with the Belledonne range in the distance (see also the following two pictures).

Grésivaudan Valley in 1914
Grésivaudan 1914

(Large view)

Grésivaudan Valley and the Petites Roches in 1940
Grésivaudan 1940

(Large view)

2. Grésivaudan Valley in our time

All but the last following photos were taken from around Madame Gautier’s house in Meylan.

Grésivaudan

(Large view)

 

Grésivaudan

(Large view)

 

Grésivaudan

(Large view)

 

Grésivaudan

(Large view)

The following photo is a view from the cemetery in Meylan in which Berlioz’s maternal grandfather is buried.

Grésivaudan

(Large view)

The Hector Berlioz Website was created by Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin on 18 July 1997;
Berlioz in Grenoble page created on 11 December 2008; this page created on 15 November 2011.

© Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin for all the pictures and information on this page.

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