The Top Best 20 Places To Visit In The Rhône-Alpes Region
So now, once you have learned a bit more about the Rhone – Alpes region, let me present you Top Best 20 Places To Visit In The Rhône-Alpes area.
This part of France offers so much so I even don’t know where I should start. There are big cities which need to be visited, there are mountains and beautiful countryside with small and charming villages, there are vineyards areas worth exploring in the Rhône-Alpes region. There are lakes, parks, nature and animals. But lets try to keep it simple…as I always say ‘sweet and short’. So here you are the List of The Top Best 20 Places To Visit In The Rhône-Alpes Region. Can you add anything else?
Bourg en Bresse (01) is a city located in the Bresse wetlands (region of Ain, between the River Saône and the Jura Mountains). It is famous for its birdlife…and their local speciality ‘Poulet de Bresse’ – the free range chicken. Poulet de Bresse is a product unique to Bresse and its taste cannot be equalled anywhere else in the world and for this reason it was granted an ‘appellation d’origine contrôlée’ (AOC) in 1957. This means that its breed is strictly defined and controlled.For example each bird has to have a minimum of ten square meters of space. On top of that, Bresse also has other products that benefit from AOC’s, Bressan Cream and Butter were granted AOC status in 2012 and the famous & testy & well known Bresse Bleu Cheese comes from Bresse as well.
Lyon: (69) ….definitely a place you have to visit and there is no space here for me to express all the reasons on why…basically check out my articles as I have already written about Lyon, why I love it and what you can & should do here!
Evian, Thonon (74) is an internationally famous tourist resort, spa center, located on the southern shores of Lake Geneva (between the lake and the mountains). There are many ski resorts nearby but Evian itself offer quality thermal facilities and attracts many tourists. Also, do you recall the Evian mineral water? So now, you know where does it come from!
Chamonix (74) is the famous winter-sports resort in the French Alps at the foot of Mont Blanc. It has the Mer de glâce, one of the biggest glaciers in Europe, accessible by the Montenvers rack railway. Chamonix was the host of the first Winter Olympic games in 1924. It has very convenient location: just one hour of Geneva airport and the neighbourhood of Italy and Switzerland which are within 30 minutes drive of the resort. Chamonix is perfect for skiing as 90% of its territory is located above 2000m.
Annecy (74) is an attractive old Alpine town, located on the shores of Lake Annecy with a stunning view of snow-capped mountains. It is a one-hour drive from Geneva airport or a two-hour train ride from Lyon and 25 miles NE of Aix les Bains. It occupies a strategic location on routes between Italy, Switzerland and France. This is a place which i worship and cannot wait to visit. Everyone says it’s amazing!
Lac du Bourget (73) – Lac Gris (Grey Lake) is the deepest and the largest freshwater lake in France, located in the southernmost end of the Jura Mountains, Savoie department. The main cities located nearby the Lac Gris aAre: Aix-les-Bains (at its shore), Chambéry (10 km south of the lake) and both are definitely worth a visit!
Aix-les-Bains (73) is the chic elegant spa town on the eastern shore of the Lac du Bourget. It is the second largest Savoy town in terms of population (28,585 inhabitants). It is also very popular touristic place thanks to the lake and mountains, with the national thermal baths and the label of Flowery City with Four Flowers and a Golden Flower. It attracts up to 200,000 general visitors per year.
The Alps (74, 73, 38) is the French part of Europe’s most important mountain. More than half of Rhone Alps region has an altitude of over 500 metres. The Alps territory stretches from Lake Geneva to the Cevennes and Provence. Rhône-Alpes has two high mountain national parks: la Vanoise and Les Ecrins, the famous Mont Blanc and Vercors is it’s main chain of mountains and plateaus located between the valleys of the rivers Drôme and Isère. Rhône-Alpes is the only region in France to have glaciers. According to meteorologists, there are about 24 specific climates in Rhône-Alpes region.
Vienne (38) is just a few miles from Lyon and it is a smaller town which inherited a unique Gallo-Roman influences. It is famous for „Jazz in Vienne“ festival and modern gastronomy launched by Fernand Point. Most importantly (for me anyway) is the fact that it is a gateway of Rhone valley wine (Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu). On top of that all, Vienne was named a “Ville d’art et d’histoire” in 1990 with 42 monuments listed and registered as Monuments Historiques. It registered 55,119 visitors in 2015. If you want to get to know it better, get your free brochure here
Grenoble (38) is a big city, located between two rivers, the Drac and the Isère (“the lion and the serpent”), and surrounded by three mountain chains, the Vercors, Chartreuse and Belledonne. It is a large academic and scientific centre with a historical heritage which includes Fort de la Bastille and The National Centre for Contemporary Art – one of the best in France. Grenoble has been known for being a host of the Winter Olympic Games in 1968.
Vizille (38) is a small town of Isère department located nearby Grenoble. It’s famous for being a home of Museum of the French Revolution which has been hosted in Domaine de Vizille since 1984. The Château de Vizille is one of the most prestigious and important castles of the Dauphiné Region. Traditionally since the 14th century the Dauphiné was the homeland of the inheritor of the French throne.
Côtes du Rhône – is a vineyard in the Rhône valley and produces wines under various appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) désignations. The Rhône Glacier carved its way through France and divided Rhône region into the North and South. The vineyards are located on both sides of the river. Both parts are unique. They have different geography, climate, soils and grape varieties. The Northern Rhône region produces red wines from the Syrah grape. The Southern Rhône is distinctly more ‘Provençal’ with a Mediterranean influence in culture and climate. Therefore on top of the red wines, it produces rose and white.
Beaujolais is another big wine producing region. It is located north of Lyon and it covers parts of the north of the Rhône department and southern areas of the Saône-et-Loire département of Burgundy. The region is known internationally for its long tradition of winemaking in which they use carbonic maceration. Villefranche-sur-Saône is the official capital of the Beaujolais region, although Beaujeu (to the west of Belleville further north) remains the historic capital. While being there you need to visit the villages of Pierre Dorées (Golden Stones). They are so charming…
Tournon (07) is a pretty village on the edge of the river Rhone. It is famous for its old narrow-gauge steam railway which goes through the terraced valleys of the Ardèche department. The village attracts many tourists thanks to its location and monuments such as Château de Ventadour (ruined castle which architectural elements are dated from the 11th, 12th, 15th and 16th centuries) and the Pont Grand (Great Bridge) which is a stone bridge connecting the village to Saint-Jean-de-Muzols. It has been built between 1379 and 1583.
Vallon-Pont-d’Arc (07) is a capital of prehistoric and cultural tourism. This small village gets really busy in summer. Why? Because it is situated at the “les gorges de l’Ardèche” (the Ardèche canyon). Because it’s a place which accommodates words famous natural bridge – Pont d’Arc! And because this bridge is amazing! This natural arch of 54 metres height (60 m wide) carved out by the Ardèche River, has been classified as a Great Site of France. It is a very popular canoeing and kayaking area
Montélimar (26) is the second-largest town in the Drome department after Valence. It is primarily famous for its nougat but it does have a pleasant centre with a few sights to look out for like the Porte Saint-Martin which was built in the mid 18th century, the St-Martin gate which is an ancient chapel and nowadays serves as an Arts centre.On top of that there is a famous market square – the Place du Marché and interesting houses such as the home of Emile Loubet, and the Maison de Diane de Poitiers, just to name a few. So many things to see and taste…
Albertville is the mountain and ski famous region of Rhone – Alpes. In 1992 it hosted Winter Olympics. But also, Albertville has been classed as a town of Art and History. It has charming and historical center to explore and many museums to visit. On top of that there is the medieval village of Conflans located just a couple of kilometers from the town. It is definitely worth to be seen!
Chambéry is the birthplace and historic capital of Savoie. It is surrounded by the Bauges and Chartreuse mountain ranges and gives stunning almost 360-degree views of Alps. It is an interesting and lovely place to visit. Chambery has a beautiful architecture, good food and wine! There are many vineyards in the area. And on top of that all, it’s the modern and scientific center. Chambery has the Savoie Technolac research park and the Universite de Savoie, and a mountain research center.
St-Etienne is a popular touristic city thanks to the cheap-flight operators that make it easy for people to travel. It is quite big with 300,000 inhabitants, with well developed industries. From the Middle Ages, the locals specialised in making arms and the coal mining industry plays an important role in the city. St-Etienne has never been famous for it’s historical heritage but has been developing and become a centre of culture and design. It organizes an international biennale covering innovation from fashion to architecture. And it hosts every two years a Pierre Boulez festival, celebrating the world-famed challenging contemporary composer.
Samoëns is a lovely typical French mountain village, located in the Haute-Savoie département. The town received the “ville fleurie” designation and has been named one of the most beautiful towns in France. It is worth visiting in summer (for water rafting, kayaking, para gliding, mountain biking etc) as well and especially in winter (for skiing). It is linked to Plateau de Saix – the resort which is a part of the larger five town Grand Massif.
As you can see Rhone – Alpes area offers such a diversity of places, landscapes and experiences to have that it is hard to stick to the list of The Top Best 20 Places To Visit but I wanted to make it easy for you to just pack and come over to explore the Rhone – Alpes region in a simple yet interesting way. I hope you will like it and share your experience about the French department with us!