The Hector Berlioz Website

Berlioz’s Birthplace – La Côte Saint-André

The town and surroundings

    In the opening chapter of his Memoirs, Berlioz described the scenic surroundings of his home town:

As the name indicates, La Côte-Saint-André is built on the slope of a hill, and dominates a fairly wide plain – a rich, golden and lush expanse of land, whose silence conveys a sense of dreamy grandeur, further enhanced by the surrounding chain of mountains to the south and east, behind which rise in the distance, laden with glaciers, the gigantic peaks of the Alps.

La Côte Saint-André and its surroundings in pictures

Unless otherwise stated, all the photographs reproduced on this page were taken by Michel Austin in April 1998 and August 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. La Côte Saint-André in times past

Map of the Department of Isère in 1852

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The above engraving was published in large size in 1852.

The Isère valley in 1852

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This steel engraving by Thomas Allom shows the Isère valley between Voiron and Voreppe. In the caption of the engraving, which was published in England, the names of these two towns are spelt Voirons and Voireppe (see the large view).

La Côte Saint-André in 1848

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The above picture is courtesy of René Bergeret, La Révolution francaise à La Côte-Saint-André - l’An I de la Liberté (Édition Bellier, 1989). The original photo is in the Hector Berlioz Museum.
The view in the photo is from the valley. The large building to the right is the Convent of the Récollets, which in 1809 became a seminary where the ten-year old Berlioz started his Latin lessons. The building in the middle of the photo half way up the hill is
Château Louis XI.

La Côte Saint-André in the early 20th century

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This card was published in 1903 in Grenoble as part of the celebrations of the centenary of Berlioz’s birth.

La Côte Saint-André in the early 20th century

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La Côte Saint-André ca. 1925

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The above postcard shows the view from the hill which overlooks the town. The bell tower in the middle of the picture is that of the Church of Saint-André on the Place Saint-André.

Château Louis XI in the early 20th century

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The construction of the original medieval chateau dates back to 1247. It was reconstructed in the early 17th century, with further improvements from 1680. Its ground floor rooms date back to the end of the 17th century. At the time the Chateau was a two-storey building (rez-de-chaussée, and a first floor) flanked by round towers (see the 1848 photo above). The second floor, east wing and the belvedere were added to it in the last decade of the 19th century (René Bergeret, 1989). See also below.

The old Railway Station ca. 1925

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The station does not exist anymore.

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The Hôtel de Ville [Town Hall]

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Avenue Hector Berlioz ca. 1912

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Avenue Hector Berlioz ca. 1937

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Avenue Hector Berlioz in the early 20th century

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Souvenirs from La Côte Saint-André

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Souvenirs from La Côte Saint-André

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Souvenirs from La Côte Saint-André

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This card was posted on 3 December 1919.

2. La Côte Saint-André in our time (1998, 2011)

2.1 General views in 1998

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This and the following views of the town are taken from the hill which overlooks it.

 

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The tree-lined road on the top-left corner of this picture is Avenue Hector Berlioz. 

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The Plain of Bièvre can be seen in the distance in this picture. The building to the left of the photo is Château Louis XI, in the courtyard of which the main evening concerts of the annual Berlioz Festival  take place.

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This is a view of La Côte from the valley, looking towards the hill which overlooks the town.

 2.2 General views in 2011

Chapelle de Notre Dame de Sciez

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The Chapelle was built in the 19th century and is located on the hill which dominates the town. It overlooks the Plain of Bièvre and, in the distance, the Chartreuse and Belledonne mountains (see also the photos below).

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In the above photo, taken during the Berlioz Festival in August 2011, one can see the Château and the white roof of the temporary structure erected every year in its courtyard to serve as a concert hall during the Festival.

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Avenue Hector Berlioz

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Place Hector Berlioz is to the right of the white building at the start of the avenue (see also the next two photos).

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This photo was taken from the direction of the Place Hector Berlioz; the start of the Avenue Hector Berlioz is to the right of the photo. 

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© (unless otherwise stated) Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin for all the pictures and information on this page.

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