Known as the ‘capital of the Alps’ due to its size and proximity to the mountains, Isère’s capital Grenoble ( pictured above) is also an important centre for learning and scientific research with its large university, which dates back to 1339. The journey by train from Paris to Grenoble takes three hours, and on an average weekday there are 26 trains per day running between the capital and Grenoble.
Valence is the capital of the Drôme department and is often referred to as ‘the gateway to the south of France’. As the local saying goes, À Valence le Midi commence (in Valence the Midi begins), which pays tribute to the city’s southern culture. The high-speed TGV line connects Paris to Valence in just two hours 11 minutes.
Today, much of the economy is driven by tourism. With an advantageous climate, influenced by the mountains, the ocean and the Mediterranean south, the Vercors attracts visitors for around three quarters of the year. For anyone with language skills or experience in the hospitality trade, it should be possible to find work. Another potential source of employment for expats moving to the area with building and carpentry skills could be in chalet construction – many new builds in the Vercors are wooden chalets.
Away from tourism, the area has numerous artisan producers, selfemployed independents and some creative artists. Many inhabitants have different jobs for the different seasons.
“A local goat farmer we know makes cheese in summer and clears the snow from the roads in winter,” says Tilly. “People living here are quite innovative, you don’t get stuck in one role – it certainly expands your horizons.”
Similarly, Laurent and Mélanie Baras, based close to Villard-de-Lans, run complementary activities around their love of horses. Laurent runs a riding stable, while Mélanie has a successful organic cosmetics range (Perle de Jument) using milk from the mares they breed. She had no previous experience in cosmetics but they needed a second revenue source and she saw the potential.