Gorgeous 9 bedroom chalet with indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, lovely views, wi-fi. Available on a catered basis only during the ski season. more info...
The Rhone Alps are famous for world-class skiing resorts and picturesque mountain villages, but this dynamic French region offers more than just thrilling slopes. In summer, the Rhone Alps are ideal for hiking or climbing, while year-round the Rhone Alps' cities, like Lyon and Grenoble, offer excellent shopping, dining and cultural activities.
Sharing a border with Italy and Switzerland, the Rhone Alps are dominated by the stunning peak of Mont Blanc. Quaint resort towns abound in the areas near the ski slopes; Chamonix, Morzine and Val d'Is?re are among the best-known, but many smaller, quieter villages are found here too. All make great bases for a skiing holiday in winter, or a hiking and climbing holiday in summer. For a treat after your mountain adventures, head to popular spa towns like Evian and Thonon, both known for their healthy waters.
Yet there's more to the Rhone Alps than mountain peaks and ski slopes. Bustling Lyon is the regional capital of the Rhone Alps. Split by the Rhone river, Lyon is a picturesque city with many public gardens, plazas and sidewalk cafes. It's known as the gastronomic centre of France, and eating here is a real treat; no matter what your budget or taste, you're sure to find something to please. If you've got the budget, indulge yourself in a meal by one of the famous Michelin-starred chefs, which seem almost too common here. Shoppers will be in heaven with the wide range of boutiques, antique shops and artisan markets, while those looking for a cultural indulgence can stay busy in Lyon's museums and grand opera house. Other cities in the Rhone Alps, like Grenoble and St.Etienne, are worth visiting too.
High in the Rhone Alps, expect cold, snow-filled winters ideal for skiing. Down in the resort towns you'll need to dress for the crisp winter weather, but the sun often shines and temperatures are regularly above freezing during the day, making the weather here pleasant if you're prepared with warm coats, hats and gloves. In summer, the Rhone Alps are warm and sunny, with temperatures dropping as you gain altitude.
Off the mountain peaks, expect warmer weather. Winters are cold but not biting, while summers regularly see temperatures rising above 85?F. Spring and autumn tend to be pleasant, though be aware that snow in the Rhone Alps may not melt until early summer, making hiking at times difficult. Also beware of the Mistral winds, which can blow year-round, especially in the valleys.
The Rhone Alps are well-connected to the rest of France and to Switzerland by air and by highway. The Mont Blanc tunnel, which burrows through the Alps to link France and Italy, makes it possible to drive here from other places in Europe.
Most visitors to the Rhone Alps fly into either Lyon or Geneva, just across the Swiss border. Numerous cheap flights head to both destinations from the UK; flying time is about 2 1/2 hours from London.
Once in the Rhone Alps you may want to hire a car, especially if you're planning to explore the villages and natural parks of the area. If your plan is to find a lively resort and stay put, then taxis and public transportation (there are excellent train services) should be fine.
Without a doubt, the Rhone Alps area is best known for its incredible downhill skiing. Resorts like Chamonix and Morzine have international reputations as top skiing resorts with challenging slopes and lively town centres. With the variety here (the Rhone Alps is the largest skiing area in the world), it should be no surprise that skiers from all over the planet are drawn to the Rhone Alp ski slopes. Other winter sports, like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, are also popular, especially in parks like the Vercors Regional Natural Park and in the Haute-Savoie sub-region.
After the snow melts there is still plenty to keep you busy. Hiking, mountain biking mountain and climbing are popular in the Rhone Alps, and in summer the ski resorts change their tones slightly and host legions of mountaineering enthusiasts. Numerous guide companies and outfitters can provide you with equipment and route advice. River sports are also popular; melting snow causes high water levels ideal for rafting. In smaller streams, you can fly fish too. And the abundance of resort towns means that golf courses, spas, and swimming pools are never far from reach.