The Auvergne-Rhone-Alps region lies close to the Italian and Swiss borders, in the heart of the French mountains.
It is characterised by an incredible natural heritage, consisting of varied landscapes ranging from snow-capped mountains to lakes and volcanoes. The region offers a wealth of outdoor activities, cable cars and sports facilities for active holidaymakers.
But its territory is a decidedly varied resource: in addition to its natural landscapes, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes also harbours ancient villages of great beauty, cities rich in art and culture and lively metropolises capable of attracting tourists of all kinds. This region concentrates a winning mix: nature, culture, gastronomy, art, a stone’s throw from Switzerland and the Italian border.
The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region was created in 2016 following the reform of the regions by merging the existing Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes regions. It is divided into twelve departments plus the metropolis of Lyon.
The Auvergne-Rhone-Alps is the second tourist destination in France and the first for outdoor activities. The region’s natural heritage consists of numerous mountains, extinct volcanoes and vast areas of plains and forests. It is a diverse land that attracts mainly hikers and nature-loving tourists.
Don’t miss the Aiguille du Midi cable car in Chamonix: it holds the record for the highest cable car with vertical ascent in the world. In just twenty minutes it will take you from the centre of Chamonix, located at an altitude of 1,035 metres, to the mountain peaks at 3,777 metres, in the heart of the Mont Blanc massif. Up there, 360° panoramic terraces await you: you will feel as if you have arrived at the roof of the world.
Also from Chamonix is another legendary route: the Montenvers-Mer-de-Glace railway. On board a little red cogwheel train, you will discover the landscape of the Haute Savoie mountains.
Another fabulous attraction of the region is the Puy de Dôme, one of Europe’s most famous volcanoes. Formed almost 11,000 years ago, the volcano is now dormant and from its summit, which can be reached either on foot or by a small train, there is a wonderful panoramic view of the Chaîne des Puys, a chain of cones created by ash and lava domes. An important centre on volcanism is also located here.
Val d’Isere is one of France’s most beautiful ski resorts. The village is full of shops, restaurants, wooden chalets and hotels with stunning views of the surrounding mountains, just a stone’s throw from the ski slopes. Another delightful and characteristic village is Bourg En Bresse: here, its 18th-century soul is perfectly mixed with Celtic heritage and Gothic architecture.
If, on the other hand, you love belle époque atmospheres, Aix Les Bains is the destination for you. Here you will find all the typical elements of a chic and elegant town: the refined palaces, the casino, the thermal baths, the hippodrome.
Annecy, on the other hand, enchants with its massive castle, the alpine colours of the lake and the many activities one can enjoy. Chambery, with Europe’s largest trompe l’oeil, is also not to be missed: the town, located only 10 minutes from the Bourge Lake, is famous for being a true architectural jewel, articulated in various eras and styles.
Completely different Lyon: poised between past and present, the city turns out to be an urban jewel, offering a stimulating panorama of art, fashion, design and haute cuisine.
Grenoble is also a pleasant surprise: situated at the foot of no less than three mountain massifs, the Vercors, the Chartreuse and the Belledonne chain, this lively city boasts 30 museum sites and a plurality of cultural festivals.
Finally, we would like to point out Saint Etienne, the cradle of creativity and design: this city linked to silk processing has been able to constantly renew itself through art, research and experimentation, making it a surprisingly interesting destination.
The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is renowned for its resorts and ski resorts. It is one of the most popular destinations during the winter season, thanks to its state-of-the-art ski resorts and its always snow-capped mountains of over 4,000 metres. It is the perfect destination for a skiing holiday.
But the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes is also enchanting during the summer season. In fact, with its 9 regional parks, 2 national parks and 49 nature reserves, nature and hiking enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice in outdoor activities at any time of year.
If you prefer mountain trails to ski slopes, the best time to visit the region is in July and August, when daytime temperatures can reach 27 °C.
The Auvergne-Rhone-Alps region is very popular with winter sports enthusiasts. The area’s high mountains are cloaked in copious snow during the cold months and the slopes attract skiers from all over Europe. The reason is simple: they offer almost 200 ski lifts and slopes suitable for all levels of experience, for novices and experienced skiers alike. It is the largest ski area in the world.
For beginners, we certainly recommend the slopes of l‘Espace Diamant, Les Sybelles and Saint-Gervais, while if you are a daring and prepared skier, you can try your hand on those of Les 3 Vallées or the Via Lattea.
Chamonix, located at the foot of Mont Blanc, is the perfect destination for everyone, perfectly blending sporting activities with entertainment and nightlife: at high altitude, ski mountaineering and downhill skiing are practised at full speed, while in the valley, children and families enjoy cross-country skiing and tobogganing. If, on the other hand, you want to witness an exciting spectacle, every year in December, the Rhône-Alpes hosts the downhill and giant slalom competitions of the Alpine Ski World Cup.
Another skiing and ski holiday capital is certainly Les Deux Alpes, in the Isère valley: it is recommended for every type of skier, from the expert sportsman who wants to test himself on daring pistes to the beginner and families with children looking for thrilling fun.
But the region is not only synonymous with sport, but also with relaxation. In fact, it boasts more than 25 thermal establish ments and a plethora of wellness centres and spas: nestled amidst the mountains, the Auvergne-Rhone-Alps is a perfect destination for the cold season. Among the many spa resorts, we recommend Divonne-les-Bains, on the Swiss border, famous for its curative waters and elegant 19th-century establishments.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for a less crowded destination, then we recommend Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, a charming village in Haute-Savoie just 45 minutes from the Swiss border. Nestled in the middle of the mountains, this resort mainly attracts those who enjoy Alpine sports and outdoor winter activities.
The Rhône-Alpes also appeals to people who are not keen on outdoor sports: it is a paradise for wine and food tourism. Not many people know that the region boasts the production of fine AOC wines, including Côtes du Rhône, Beaujolais and Savoie, and the presence of around 20 starred restaurants.
If you want to treat yourself to a fine dining experience, this is the place to be: you can sample the tasty local dishes with a glass of full-bodied, renowned wine.