"The Rhône River" Top 5 Page for this destination Lyon Favorite Tip by Nemorino
Lyon Favorites: 58 reviews and 84 photos
Favorite thing: Why do the Swiss call this the Rotten River? Not because it is rotten in the English sense of the word, but because Rotten happens to be the Swiss-German word for Rhône.
The Rhône aka Rotten starts in the Swiss Alps and has collected considerable detritus (so it’s a bit murky but not rotten) before it flows into the east end of Lac Leman aka Lake Geneva. Then at the west end of the lake the Rhône has a brief moment of glory because it is one of the cleanest rivers in the world as it flows through the city of Geneva, the reason for this unusual cleanliness being that all the gunk has settled to the bottom of the lake.
Lyon is over 260 km further downstream, which gives the Rhône ample opportunity to replenish its gunk supply, especially since there are some chemical factories and disused industrial complexes along the way, so it really does get somewhat "Rotten" by the time it reaches Lyon.
Reportedly the Rhône has accumulated such dangerous levels of PCBs -- polychlorinated biphenyls –- that the French government has outlawed the consumption of fish from the entire length of the Rhône, from the Swiss border all the way down to the Mediterranean.
There is a vivid exhibit on the pollution of the Rhône River in the Grand Gallery of Evolution in Paris.
Second and third photos: People on Vélo’v bikes on a recently constructed bicycle route by the Rhône River. It’s safe and pleasant to ride bicycles along the Rhône, just don’t swim in it, okay?
The Rhône River on my Avignon page.
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