Rhône-Alpes - from alpine landscapes to river floodplains
Rhône-Alpes is located in the east of France. To the north the regions of Burgundy (Bourgogne) and Franche-Comté; to the west, the Auvergne, including the start of the Massif Central mountain range; and to the south it borders the Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. The highest peak is Mont Blanc – which the Italians claim as their own. The region also borders or contains major lakes such as Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) and Lake Annecy. The Ardèche is home to the deepest gorge in Europe. Many of the inhabitants of the south speak varieties of Occitan (of which Catalan is an offshoot).
On all the main trade routes, since the dawn of history, the Rhone-Alps region has always been a melting pot of people and cultures which accounts for the wealth of its heritage. Continental in places, alpine in others and Mediterranean elsewhere, the geography of the region gives visitors a diversity of landscapes unmatched in the rest of France.
Rhône-Alpes what to do
It is one of the most scenic areas of France with dense forests, lush pasture land, huge lakes, deep gorges and spectacular mountains. The French Alps, dominated by the Mont Blanc, form the border between Switzerland and Italy to the east of this region. The stunning landscape and the challenge of the peaks have long drawn climbers and walkers in the summer, and winter sports enthusiasts in the winter. Chamonix, both a ski resort and mountain climbing centre, is where the Mont Blanc Tunnel runs through the Alps to provide a direct link between France and Italy.
Megève, Morzine and Val d'Isère, enjoy an international reputation in snow sports, as do the spa towns of Aix-les-Bains, Thonon and Evian, both situated on the south shore of Lake Geneva.
Activities Markets in all towns and villages throughout the region on different days. Excellent fly- fishing, angling and casting, in the lakes, rivers and mountain streams for char, trout, pike, pike-perch, carp. Rafting in the Ardèche and at Bourg St-Maurice in the Alpes. Exceptional golf courses everywhere. Several spas where you can relax. Walking, hiking, riding, cycling and mountain biking through wild and natural country.
Routes are well signposted and topographical maps available in larger towns. Potholing in the Vercors. The mountains, glaciers, canyons and gorges draw climbers from everywhere. There are beginners schools run by seasoned mountaineers, and experienced guides. For skiers, there are numerous runs to choose from throughout the Rhone-Alpes with excellent facilities. Most of the stations have a good range of après-ski entertainment; swimming pools, skating rinks, trekking, snowshoe expeditions, night skiing, paragliding, activities for children, nightclubs, restaurants, concerts. Cross-country skiing in the Vercors Regional Natural Park, in the Haute-Savoie and the southern Jura.
A traditional snack in the bistros of Lyon
is “machon”, a salad of potatoes, lentils, or dandelion leaves and bacon
with garlic sausage, slices of brawn, “cevelas truffé” – a lightly
cured pork sausage with truffles, served with jugs of
Beaujolais.Gastronomy here is hearty and varied, drawing on local
produce, onions, fruit and vegetables and a wide range of charcuterie as
well as beef from Charolais, poultry from Bresse and freshwater fish
and game from Dombes. Butter, cream, milk and cheese, dominate the
Alpine area of the Savoy. Fish from lakes and mountain streams, game
from the forests and mushrooms from the woods – a unique habitat in
The orchards are planted with cherry, apple, pear and walnut trees – and strawberries and raspberries are plentiful in the glades. Soups are made with sorrel, pumpkins, nettles or leeks, as well as with cheese. The rivers provide resources for a number of Savoyard dishes, fricassé of frog’s legs with garlic, onions and vinegar, perch with red wine, quenelles. Casseroles made with pork knuckles, sausages, stockpot vegetables and chestnuts, chicken with crayfish and gratins, using cep mushrooms, leeks, cardoons and marrows, and cheese.
The great cheeses of the region include, Beaufort, Reblochon, Tommes de Bonneville, Boudane, matured in grape marc brandy and Tamié, made by Trappist monks.