With its Romanesque church signalled by a brick and pebble tower, its old covered market held up on an impressive six rows of wooden pillars, the slope-side town above the plain, La Côte-St-André has many appealing aspects.
The main attraction is the renovated Musée Hector Berlioz (t 04 74 20 24 88, www.musee-hector-berlioz.com) rebuilt in honour of the composer of such ecstatic pieces as Les Nuits d’été which attracts a passionate crowd.
The museum heralds every aspect of Hector’s life, such as his first instruments (a guitar and a flageolet, the latter a type of recorder, not a bean), numerous statues of the intense man, and above all gives a strong 19th-century bourgeois feel to the exhibition. The highest level concentrates on Berlioz’s writing as well as his music, the interactive posts allowing you to listen to short extracts. Down in the basement, you can appreciate longer pieces in the small auditorium.
Passionate chocolate lovers may sniff out a particularly tempting chocolate shop on the lively main shopping street by the museum, run by the same man who directs the Paradis du Chocolat (t 04 74 20 35 89, www.paradis-chocolat.com; open weekends and public and school hols 2–6; adm), out on a limb at the top of the town, in the much-abused remnants of the château, now resembling a factory as much as a castle. Choc-a-bloc with information on chocolate history, culture and commerce. This chocolate museum is almost too much of a good thing, although you can buy lots of chocolate. You can also listen to an impassioned lecture on true chocolate-making by the owner.
For more information on the wider area, and the département of Isère, read the Cadogan guide to the Rhône-Alpes.
Copyright text :Philippe Barbour 2011.
Copyright Images : Flyozone.com