HIS­TORY LES­SON

Living France - - WHERE TO LIVE -

Musée de la Ré­sis­tance du Vercors At the end of the 19th cen­tury, many young Ital­ian men crossed the bor­der, seek­ing em­ploy­ment and a bet­ter life. Many from the Alpine ar­eas of Italy found work in the Vercors as wood­cut­ters. Miss­ing their pasta and with meat in short sup­ply, they cre­ated their own style of ravi­oli, filled in­stead with lo­cal cheese and pars­ley. The recipe was in­tro­duced to the lo­cals, and to­day, la ravi­ole is an em­blem­atic food of the area, to­gether with wal­nuts.

Later, due to the fresh moun­tain air, the re­gion be­came known for cli­matic heal­ing, no­tably for suf­fer­ers of asthma, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and other lung-re­lated mal­adies. Fol­low­ing the Sec­ond World War, many chil­dren from bomb-hit towns and cities were sent here for restora­tive care.

The Sec­ond World War marked the his­tory of the Vercors mas­sif. The ge­o­graph­i­cal make-up of the re­gion ren­ders the Vercors a nat­u­ral fortress, with the lower pre-Alps plains en­cir­cling the high moun­tain cliffs like a belt. Add to this the dense forests and hid­den caves, and the mas­sif was the ideal place for the young par­ti­sans of the French Re­sis­tance to re­group and train, ready to de­fend the free south from the Nazis.

The story of the maquis­ards, as they were known, and the tragedy that en­sued in June 1944, when Nazi forces pen­e­trated the fortress in glid­ers and slaugh­tered injured fight­ers as well as the in­hab­i­tants of Vassieux, is su­perbly re­counted at both the mu­seum and memo­rial of the Re­sis­tance in Vassieux.

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