10 reasons why you should visit the Rhône-Alpes region, France

10 reasons why you should visit the Rhône-Alpes region, France

Choosing the most beautiful places in the region can be quite a challenge. For you, here is a selection of the most spectacular and beautiful towns and villages in the Rhône-Alpes region :


Lyon is the gourmet capital of the most gourmet country, Lyon is one of the largest cities in France. The historic center of Lyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lyon sights

2. Annecy

Annecy – Annecy is not only the gateway to many ski resorts in the French Alps, but also boasts one of the most beautiful architectural ensembles not only in the Rhône-Alpes region, but also in all of France.

Annecy Annecy, Rhône-Alpes, France - Annecy travel guide, Annecy attractions, Annecy itinerary, Annecy transport timetables, Annecy from Geneva to Geneva

3. Perouges

The small village of Perouges on the outskirts of Lyon is an example of a perfectly preserved old town.

Perouges, France

4. Ardeche

The Ardeche Gorge – The Ardeche Gorge is considered one of the most beautiful in all of France. The panorama is completed by a unique natural bridge over the river.

Ardeche, France

5. The Ideal Palais Cheval

The Chevalier’s Ideal Palace is an absolutely incredible building that inspired many famous artists, including Picasso, and became a masterpiece of naive architecture. It took 33 years of work by a simple French letter carrier, Cheval, to create an embodied fairy tale.

Cheval, Hauterives

6. Pont-en-Royans


7. Saint-Montan

Saint-Montan is literally a treasure trove for history buffs, as all periods are represented here, from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. The first thing that catches your eye at the foot of the village is the impressive castle atop Mount Saint-Montan.

Saint-Montan, Rhône-Alpes, sights, guidebook

8. Chambery

Chambery is the birthplace and capital of Savoy, the city has managed to be part of Italy and France. Chambery has long been the “Crossroads of the Alps” since the 11th century. For a long time it was ruled by the Dukes of Savoy, until the territory was annexed by the French king. While living in Chambery, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote his famous Declaration of Rights here.

Chambery, France

9. Grenoble

Grenoble is the capital of the French Alps and has over 2,000 years of history. From Gallo-Romanesque times Grenoble was an administrative center and in the 11th century it became the capital of the Dauphiné and after its annexation to France it became a key protective town on the border of the country, a reminder of which the largest fortress of the time, the Bastille, remains.

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Grenoble, France

10. Valence

Valence is a pretty town with ancient churches and a pleasant old town. The young Napoleon once studied here in the artillery school.

France is atypical. 10 reasons to visit the Rhône-Alpes region – Doc. Engineer of your souls. – JJ

Lake Annecy, city of Annecy, Rhône-AlpesImage: Alex Brown, 2010

“France is not only Paris, Versailles, Montmartre, the grandeur of Notre Dame and perfumes. It is a big country with the sea, mountains, and lakes. If you don’t want to go to ‘classic’ France and the beauty of nature is closer to you than the buzz of hundreds of voices in the Louvre, welcome to the Rhône-Alpes region!” The region in southeastern France is named after the Rhône River and the mountain range of the Alps. The area is unique in itself. The mountain range creates a very different climate. Climbing up to the tourist ski villages, you can freeze – in winter the humidity is high and in December and January the temperature drops to minus 8 degrees, just below the slopes are wrapped in the impenetrable fog, and still below the bright sunlight and after the Moscow winter you will get warm here.

As elsewhere in Europe, however, there is a very good network of roads, allowing a maximum of one hour to get from one area to another. In addition, you will definitely want to bring home delicious Savoyard cheese and local wines. Therefore, it is more convenient to come here by your own car or rent it here. Our journey begins from the airport of Geneva, Switzerland – from here the region is much more accessible than from the center of the country.

At the foot of the Alps is located the historic region of Savoie – since ancient times, claims to this area have been expressed by many rulers. Eventually the area fell to France, but echoes of other cultures – Swiss and Italian – are still felt here. You can feel it best in the local villages.

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1. Ivoire Village

The medieval village of Yvoire is located on the edge of the Leman peninsula in the north of the French department of Haute-Savoie. For 20 years, Yvoire has been in the prestigious association of the most blooming villages in France. In summer, the houses and streets of Yvoire are buried in flowers, and the beauty attracts tourists from France, Italy and Switzerland. According to local guides, in the summer the village receives up to a million guests.

Image: OCEANIZM, 2015

The ancient buildings in Ivoire are beautifully preserved, even the most authentic medieval castle. And, most surprisingly, it still belongs to a noble family. The grounds are enclosed and the family keeps a botanical garden across the street from the castle. After strolling through the streets and down to Lake Leman, one of the many restaurants located right on the shore can serve Leman-caught trout in crispy crust with potatoes and lemon sauce. Locals often gather here at noon. And now a little higher up, 40 km from Geneva is the town of Annecy, the capital of the Savoy department.

Image: OCEANIZM, 2015

2. St. Andrew’s Market in Annecy

Annecy is famous for its atmosphere: cobbled streets, canals, swans floating in them, the silhouettes of the Alps reflected in the water, and, the gastronomic restaurants of the Old Town, and of course, the beautiful evening illumination.

But once a year, on December 1, something completely unimaginable happens here. St. Andrew’s Fair – a time when all the central streets are transformed into shopping rows. Here you can buy anything from a traditional bag of roasted chestnuts to a new fur coat from a well-known brand at 10 to 70 percent off. Local farmers’ products, street food, and industrial goods pop up on the shelves. A great place to shop for Christmas and New Year’s gifts. In the morning, if you’re lucky with the weather, you can ride around the lake on bikes or segways – there’s no problem with rentals here.

Image: OCEANIZM, 2015

3. Delicacies, wine and people

Annecy will pleasantly surprise gourmets. For those who go to France for the “forbidden”, Savoie is a great opportunity to try the local cheeses: tom, beaufort, rebluchon. Other unusual productions are also located here. A typical French treat – snails with garlic sauce, snail pâté and snails in dough. We were lucky enough to visit one at an organic protein farm. The owner of Orchis turned out to be an excellent winemaker as well. But most importantly, this man is truly satisfied with his life.

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In general, people in Savoie, like many other places in France, simply enjoy what they do. Christine Rossa lives in the suburbs of Annecy and holds cooking classes in her house for everyone! Imagine inviting strangers into your home and cooking with them. By the way, anyone can attend such a master class in a private home. You pay the hostess and in return get all the “props,” a folder with recipes, products and a disposable apron. And, of course, a pass to the inner sanctum – the kitchen, where together with the chef you can learn the subtleties of culinary excellence.

Image: OCEANIZM, 2015

Chamonix is the center of the popular Chamonix-Mont Blanc ski region and the mecca of winter sports. Locals are very proud of the fact that skiing has been here since as early as 1907. In 1924 the first Olympic Winter Games were held in Chamonix.

In addition to viewing the beautifully preserved historic buildings and churches, here you can entertain yourself with shopping (a whole block in the city are crowded with stores of well-known sports brands) and visiting local restaurants with authentic cuisine.

Image: OCEANIZM, 2015

5. Mer de Glace Glacier.

Even if you’re not a fan of skiing or snowboarding – there’s still plenty to do in Chamonix. You can take a high-altitude elevator up to 3,842 meters and enjoy the breathtaking panorama of the mountains, and a small red train takes you to the Mer de Glace (Ice Sea) glacier.

Image: OCEANIZM, 2015

The glacier stretches for 12 kilometers, with an ice thickness of more than 400 meters. It is now gradually melting, although it used to go right down to the settlement. At the end station of the train you can not only admire the magical view of the glacier, but also learn more about the history of its discovery and in general about the nature of the phenomenon – a special interactive museum will tell and show tourists all the most important.

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Nearby is a hotel, where they say Lord Byron stayed, and the writer Mary Shelley was so impressed by the glacier that according to her fantasy it was the place where Frankenstein and his monster were exiled.

Image: OCEANIZM, 2015

Image: OCEANIZM, 2015

Be sure to visit Beaujolais, the legendary birthplace of young wine. In its vicinity is an amazing enopark (wine museum) – the village Duboeuf (le Hameau Duboeuf) – dedicated to the history of the invention of the drink, winemaking from ancient times to the present day. The museum is located in the former Romaines-Thorens railway station, where the freight trains carrying the heady drink used to arrive. You’ll find giant 18th-century presses, old wine billboards, a statue of Bacchus, bottles of all sizes and colors, a lot of informative films, and of course, wine tastings! A bottle of locally produced wine will cost 10-13 euros.

Image: OCEANIZM, 2015

Lyon is the administrative center of the Rhône-Alpes region. It is the second largest city after France, but in terms of beauty it seems to be the first. It does not have the crowded, hurried, and hectic atmosphere of a metropolis that one would feel in Paris, for example. The city is large, there is a subway, but the atmosphere in Lyon is very quiet, even measured.

For fans of public transport Lyon offers a card Lyon City Card, which will entitle you to 2 days of unlimited travel in the city. But in general, the center of Lyon can be easily bypassed on foot. For beautiful views you have to go higher – on the cable car to the Basilica of Fourvière on the hill or to the Weaving Hill, named after the silk artisans.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a spare minute to use the local bikes, but bike rentals are everywhere in Lyon. The infrastructure for cyclists (traffic lights and markings) is provided, and people on two-wheeled vehicles can be found everywhere.

You can take a break and have lunch in a bouchon in Lyon. Bouchon is a restaurant with traditional Lyon cuisine (usually giblets and other meat by-products), checkered tablecloths and a very homely atmosphere. People here sit almost right next to each other, but this “crowding” does not interfere, it just makes you feel like you’re in one big family.

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Image: OCEANIZM, 2015

8. Lyon Traboules.

Traboules are medieval Lyon courtyards, or rather systems of courtyards and hidden streets. You can find them in the Old City – the main thing is to be curious and persistent enough. The traboules hide behind open and closed doors, crisscross the city and form a tangled labyrinth. In addition to the well, in some of the courtyards you can find completely incredible structures. Towers, for example.

Image: OCEANIZM, 2015

In addition to old Lyon, modern Lyon is also interesting. An entire neighborhood is given over to modernity here, the Confluence, the confluence of two rivers, the Rhone and the Saône. Futuristic glass buildings, home to trendy lofts and contemporary art galleries. Confluence is home to a unique museum where you can learn about the history of the origin of human civilization, told in an unusual language. The modern presentation, lighting and style will appeal to people of all ages, and children especially will love the opportunity to touch a real meteorite and even a piece of the moon!

Image: OCEANIZM, 2015

10. The tastiest point of the itinerary

Chef Paul Bocuse is a hereditary chef and one of the most famous chefs of the 20th century. He did a lot for Lyon’s cuisine and the city in general – thanks to him, Lyon is considered the gastronomic capital of France. In the city you can find a street art depicting Bocuse and the culinary institute named after him. But the most famous place is probably the Paul Bocuse market. This is where all the major restaurateurs in Lyon shop.

The best farmers from all over the region come here to present the freshest wines, cheeses, sausages and even oysters to the public. You can look at, taste, smell, and ask the salesperson about the products and, of course, take them home – the cheeses are vacuum packed on request, so they will definitely live till you get there.

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