The Rhone Alps region is nestled between the south of Burgundy and the north of Provence, spreading from the Rhone Valley to the French Alps. Rhone Alps shares its borders with Switzerland and Italy.
Rhone Alps is well known for its gastronomy, famous vineyards of Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône, lavender fields and for the three largest lakes in France (Leman, Annecy and Bourget lakes). Rhone Alps is also home to the world famous Mont Blanc and to the most extensive ski area in the world.
The gateway of the Rhone Alps Region is Lyon, a UNESCO world heritage city easily accessible by train on the Paris-Marseille route.
Start the day by exploring the old Lyon, its small historic streets, the Saint-Jean cathedral and its trésor, have a break by having a lunch in a restaurant or bouchon as known locally. Indeed, Lyon is the capital of gastronomy in France with more than 30 renowned restaurants and many star rated chefs who work their magic there. Continue your trip to the impressive Basilica and the Roman ruins at the top of the Fourvière hill and enjoy the magnificent view.
Start the second day with a stroll on the banks of the Rhône and don’t forget to admire the trompe-l’oeil wall paintings. Visit the Croix-Rousse district for its history of silk industry and drop in one of the few remaining silk workshops to watch a canut (silk weaver) at work. Engage in a shopping treat in the historical Presqu’île district and its Place Bellecour. End your day with a dinner in a brasserie and taste one of the local specialities which include charcuterie and quenelles de brochet (finely minced fish meal) with a glass of Côtes du Rhône wine.
Lyon > Annecy
Travel by TER train from Lyon to Annecy, the town known as the Venice of the Alps (2h trip). From the greenish surrounding mountains, transparent lake water, pure air and azure blue sky, life is pretty much about relaxing and contemplating the natural beauty of the region. You can chill out in the small medieval town enchanted by its canals and its arcade houses with many-coloured façades.
Fancy sun bathing or something more fun? Then you can try canoeing on the crystal clear waters of the lake or you can cycle along the cycle path which runs along the shore of the lake.
Our tip: Do not miss the morning market! Dinner cruise on the lake is a must.
Annecy > Chamonix
From Annecy, take the TER train to reach Chamonix, the highest mountain town in France, overlooked by the Mont Blanc (2h trip). Chamonix is a popular destination where you will be able to hear languages from every corner of the globe.
Take the cable car to the Aiguille du Midi and enjoy the spectacular views over the Alps and Europe’s highest peak. Take the little railway line and its cogwheel train to visit the Mer de Glace, an immense glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc.
When you’re out shopping in the town centre, wherever you look up you’ll see ’it’ there… 4,810 metres of rock, snow, ice and dreams of things to come. End the trip with a typical alpine dinner.
Our tip: Don’t forget to taste a cheese fondue at the Brasserie de l’M. Take a detour to one of the micro-breweries where you will be able to enjoy brewed beer from the glacier melt water of Mont Blanc.
Events 2012To know more about the numerous events that are to be held in 2012 in Lyon, please visit the dedicated page on the city: Lyon – Events 2012.
Lake Annecy Festival > Annecy > 4th August 2012
A pyrotechnical extravaganza that takes place on Lake Annecy, with fireworks and illuminated cruises.
Mountain Guides Festival > Chamonix > mid-August 2012
A traditional ancestral festival to honour the only day in the year that the Chamonix guides can take off. There is a religious component where their ice axes and ropes are blessed, plus a mountaineering display, fireworks and dancing.
A massive celebration of mountain life and its traditions, involving craftsmen, folk groups, processions of Alpine animals and local produce tastings. There is always a wonderful atmosphere that attracts visitors from all over the world.
Les Sarmentelles > Beaujeu > 15th November 2012
Every year, tasting of the new Beaujolais wine takes place on the third Thursday in November in the bars and restaurants of Lyon and the Beaujolais region. In Beaujeu (accessible by coach from Belleville sur Saône, 32 min by train from Lyon), the most popular of all the celebrations takes place - les Sarmentelles. There is dancing and singing, a night of fun and frolics! At midnight the new barrels are opened and there is a torch procession through the streets of Beaujeu.