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These lecture notes are the direct result of presentations held in two consecutive years (2000 and 2001) at the Peyresq Conference Center, in the Alpes de Haute Provence, North of Nice. These summer schools were organized in conjunction with the Research Training Network MASIE (Mechanics and Symmetry in Europe) of the Fifth Framework Program of the European Commission and were intended for graduate students and postdocs who needed a crash course in geometric mechanics. They were also tailored to link with the other lectures and provide the necessary background for them. There are already many books on this subject and its links to symplectic and Poisson geometry (e.g. [AbMa78], [Arnold79], [GuSt84], [JoSa98], [LiMa87], [MaRa94], [McDSal95]) and the literature on this subject is overwhelming. So the goal of these two one-week intensive lecture courses was to find a quick way through this subject and give the young researchers enough tools to be able to sift and sort through the books and papers necessary for their own work. This is why these lectures present occasionally detailed proofs and sometimes only quick surveys of more extensive subjects that are, however, explained with care. The examples, on the other hand, are all carried out with detailed computations in order to show how one applies the theory in concrete cases.
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