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Named for the dolphin (dauphin) that graced the coat of arms of its prior rulers, the historic region of Dauphiné encompasses the territories south and southwest of Savoie, stretching from the Rhône River in the west to the Italian border in the east. It roughly corresponds to the départements of Isère, Drôme and Hautes-Alpes.

Mountain-backed Grenoble is Dauphiné's cultural centre and largest city. Barely a few kilometres southwest extends Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors, scarred with gorges and caves. East of here is rugged, glacier-carved Parc National des Écrins, with whopping, world-class ski resorts Les Deux Alpes and Alpe d'Huez on its northern flank.

Standing sentinel over lesser-loved winter sports area Serre Chevalier is Briançon, an underrated fortress town connected to Italy by a hair-raising mountain road.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Dauphiné.