Quick Guide to Rhone Alpes
Departments in Rhone-Alpes:
Ain, Ardeche, Drome, Isere, Rhone, Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Loire
Popular Towns in Rhone-Alpes:
Lyon, St Etienne, Grenoble, Annecy, Montelimar, Valence
The name the Rhône-Alpes sums up the contradiction of this region - on one hand, in Rhone, Loire, Ain, Ardeche, Drome - the Rhone, a deep valley cut through the French countryside, and on the other, in Savoie, Haute Savoie, and Isere the French Alps, home to the highest peak in Europe, Mont Blanc.
The Rhone boasts thriving cities, medieval castles and sumptuous vineyards for considered delectation, whilst the alps bring a hedonistic natural adventure ground to the masses, with skiing, climbing, and alpine lakes being amongst the star attractions - but what ultimately makes this region so special is the way in which these two apparently opposing sides not only co-exist but actually compliment each other. Ultimately, its this diversity and completeness which makes the Rhône-Alpes one of Europe's most talked about destinations.
Top things to see...
- Old Lyon, which boasts architectural and cultural heritage spanning over two thousand years.
- One of the biggest glaciers in Europe, said to possess powers of rejuvenation at Mer de glace.
- The French Alps, especially the immaculate national parks of la Vanoise and Les Ecrins, nestled high up in the mountains.
- The Rhône valley as it carves its way down from the mountains to the coast, with some spectacular gorges and steep banks along the way.
- The natural bridge over the river at Vallon-Pont-d'Arc, a natural feat of engineering.
Top things to do...
- Enjoy the sun and snow at the chic resort of Evian on the southern shores of Lake Geneva.
- Get up close and personal with Mont Blanc, Europe's highest peak.
- Hike, rock-climb and ski at Chamonix, the original winter-sports adventure centre.
- Relax and rejuvenate at Aix-les-Bains, an elegant spa town on the shore of the alpine lake 'Lac du Bourget' the largest freshwater lake in France.
- Huff and puff your way to the top of the steep Tournon vineyards to truly earn your glass of the fabled wine.
- Gasp in awe at the intricate sets and costumes at The Opera House in Lyon.
Mont Blanc, Chamonix, skiing, glaciers, wine, truffles.
Did you know...?
Mont Blanc was first climbed in 1786, but at this time it wasn't believed to be the highest mountain in Europe.
By road... Driving into and out of the region can be spectacular, but can also be problematic in bad weather due to the winding roads. The best way to drive is to stick to the motorways for as long as possible, even if it sometimes means doubling back to get to your destination.
By air... Lyon St. Exupéry airport has good connections throughout Europe, and is a hub for Easyjet. There are also airports with flights from the UK in Grenoble.
By public transport... The area, although mountainous, is still easily accessible by train, and the TGV from paris to Lyon only takes 2 hours. Trains also regularly arrive from Brussels and other European cities.