Best Things To Do In Rhone-Alpes: The Perfect Vacation Destination!
Updated On: January 27, 2022
With an excellent location on the map, neighboring Italy and Switzerland while setting between Paris and the French Riviera, it is safe to say that the Rhone-Alpes region is at Europe’s crossroads. The beautiful region of Rhone-Alpes in France is a crucial European transit hub, which links northern France and Europe to the Mediterranean area.
As you can get from the name, the region was named after the Rhone River and the famous mountain range the Alps. With so many activities and things to do in the region, Rhone-Alpes has the sixth-largest economy of any country in Europe.
The region is full of breathtaking mountains and pure water lakes, and some imposing panoramas that would just make you fall in love with the region instantly. Full of amazing things to do, here are our suggestions for the top things to do in Rhone-Alpes.
Winter Sports…. Oh Oui, S’il Vous Plaît!
One of the major touristic attractions in the Rhone-Alpes region is winter sports, and the region has a plethora of those. The Rhone-Alpes is one of the biggest regions in Europe for skiing as it has 173 alpine and Nordic ski resorts. There are also vast ski areas connected to village resorts.
Famous for the quantity and quality of the snow and skiing in there, the French Alpes has the three largest ski areas in the world. You can also enjoy skiing on the five mountains of Auvergne; they are a more on-budget option for skiing that you should consider.
A Cable Car at the Aiguille du Midi
With a view that will surely sweep you off your feet, the Aiguille du Midi is one of the best places in the world that you must have on your bucket list. On top of the things we recommend you do to truly enjoy the majestic beauty of Aiguille du Midi is to take a cable car to reach its stunning 3,842-metre-tall peak.
The cable car is only 20 minutes away as you can take it from the center of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. The cable car ride is the highest climb by a cable car in the whole world…… How awesome is that! Once you reach that engrossing peak, take a step back and feast your eyes on the 360° views of the Alps, and breathe in the mountain pure air at the top of the beautiful Aiguille du Midi.
In case the adrenaline kicks in while on the top, then you might want to try the famous “Step into the Void”, which is a glass room with a glass floor, located on the uppermost terrace of the Aiguille du Midi. Step into the alleged “highest attraction in Europe” and enjoy the view of the highest peaks in Western Europe. This is an exhilarating experience that you will never forget.
Have a good look, and photos as well, of the magnificent Mont Blanc, this is probably the closest you will ever get to Europe’s highest mountain without having to climb it. We also recommend trying to have a meal while up there, what a better view for your meal than this!
A reminder: Since you will be 3,842 meters up high, make sure to have sunglasses and warm clothes with you. You don’t want to end up being too cold to enjoy the view!
Lac du Bourget …. The Gray Lake
Circled by mountains all over, Lac du Bourget is a marvelous feat that you should absolutely visit. Lac du Bourget is the deepest and biggest natural lake in France. The place is just the right spot to try some great water sporting activities.
If you are more into exploring, then we recommend renting kayaks, boats, or paddles to float on the natural lake and enjoy the view of the mountains…. How relaxing!
Lyon……Home of Lights!
If you want to really discover Lyon city, then there is no better way to do this than to start with visiting the ancient remnants of the World Heritage site. The city is well-known for its city centre and the incredible Bartholdi’s Fontaine.
While setting up your itinerary for the city, make sure to include a trip to the neo-renaissance Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière; this is a distinguished landmark that includes a museum of sacred art. You should also check the city’s La Croix-Rousse, the city is famous for its history with the Canuts, workers weaving silk.
Your trip would be even better if you can make it in December, that way you will have the chance to attend the Festival of Lights. During the festival, the whole city gets decorated and illuminated with light displays by well-known artists from around the world.
Lac d’Annecy…. The cleanest lake in Europe
Lac d’Annecy is France’s second-largest glacial lake and it is named after the city of Annecy. The lake is famous for being “Europe’s cleanest lake” thanks to the strict environmental regulations that were imposed in the 1960s.
The lake is fed by mountain springs, and it is a great spot to just go relax and have a good swim. You can rent any kind of vessel you want while there, or better try wakeboarding…This is the best location to do wakeboarding.
Venice of the Savoie!
On the northern shore of the lake, there sets the city of Annecy, the beautiful city is labeled as the “Venice of the Savoie”. We recommend strolling in the city and enjoying its picturesque location with enchanting medieval buildings, canals, and many other relaxing spots to explore.
On Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays the city’s central cobblestone streets get filled with tables selling fresh produce and regional delicacies like cheese…. Make sure to get some cheese, they are to die for! The city is also a nice place for hikes, where you can go hiking on the River Fier or up to the Tournette peak for a wonderful view of the lake.
Gorges de l’Ardèche
Regarded as “European Grand Canyon”, Gorges de l’Ardèche are located in the French department of Ardèche. The thirty-kilometer-long-canyon runs from Vallon-Pont-d’Arc to Saint-Martin-d’Ardèche. The canyon is a grand touristic site attracting a million visitors per year for kayaking, sightseeing, and hiking.
Gorges de l’Ardèche is home to the Ardèche department’s symbol Pont d’Arc. Pont d’Arc is a gripping geological phenomenon. It is 60 meters large and 54 meters high dug by the Ardèche river; it was turned into a stone archway past the river. The place is labeled as the ‘natural gateway to the Ardèche Gorge”.
The place is a must-visit, and one of the best things to do while there is rent a canoe for two days at least and enjoy camping overnight under the stars. You can also check the gorge’s dusty trail to track down the most breathtaking vistas in the area.
Bastille Fort of Grenoble…. A Beauty to Behold!
With beauty and strategic location that qualified it to be the capital of the former Dauphiné province, Grenoble has no shortage of activities to do or see, especially that enthralling Bastille Fort of Grenoble.
You can reach the fort by the cute little round cable cars or “Bubbles” as the locals call them. You can take them from the center of the town to the hill of the Bastille, where the fort is located. The cable cars’ ride is a joy on its own and you get to see an amazing view of the town and the countryside around it.
Once on the top, you can enjoy some thrilling sports activities or relax and enjoy a good cup of coffee or a meal with that captivating view from the top. Being only a few minutes away, the Bastille Fort of Grenoble is the perfect getaway from the city for both locals and tourists.
Le Palais Idéal Du Facteur Cheval
Okay, we know this is going to sound weird, but there is this ideal palace of a postman! Yes, you read that right, a postman! But this was no ordinary postman, and his palace certainly deserves the visit. Ferdinand Cheval was a French postman who built Le Palais idéal in thirty-three years.
The palace is a unique masterpiece of naïve art architecture. Located only a one-hour drive from the south of Lyon and Le Palais Idéal Du Facteur Cheval is a historical monument in Hauterives.
The palace is one-of-a-kind featuring some dazzling columns and arches, mythical beasts and farm animals, balconies, and gigantic statues, and all of them are encircled by greenery. In addition to that, there are temporary exhibitions and workshops for children that take place annually.
Le Palais Idéal Du Facteur Cheval is one the most spectacular places that you will visit, and we highly recommend adding it to your list.
Vulcania… A Theme Park from Another World
Vulcania is a special theme park that gives you the chance to learn about volcanoes in a fun way. During school holidays, there are busses from the station to the park for you and your children. A visit to the park is a superb choice of activity for your children as there are games, rides, scientific explanations, educational walks.
As for young children who are 3 years of age or more, there are some fun things to do like the Cité des Enfants program, where they can use gears and pistols to play with water and light.
Another Fun Thing to Do for the Whole Family
One of the top activities to do with your family while you are in Rhone-Alpes is to spend the day at Le Pal. This is an amusement park and a zoo that has plenty of thrill rides and animals. The amusement park is a 2-hour drive from Lyon. If you or any of your family members are not into walking, then you can rent a pushchair for the day inside the park.
Le Pal is full of fun things to do for you and your family, our favorite was the Down the Colorado River ride and the Goldhunters’ Lake, make sure to check them out, you will really enjoy them!
Saint-Étienne Mine Museum
If you are in the mood for something a little bit different, then we recommend you check the Saint-Étienne Mine Museum. This is not your typical kind of museum as this not-so-old of age museum was built in 1991. Inside the museum, you will see some interesting power rooms, hoists, and washrooms, with miners’ overalls still hanging above the showers.
Categorized as a “Grand National Site” in France, Puy Mary is the highest volcano in whole Europe. The site welcomes over 500,000 visitors every year. The mountain is a 6.5-million-year-old extinct volcano with unspoiled and beautiful natural dormant slopes.
You can reach Puy Mary through Pas de Peyrol, the highest road pass in the Massif Central. Before going to the summit, we suggest taking a tour at the Pas de Peyrol Site House, open from May to the end of October, where you will learn about the story of the volcano through an audiovisual show. Visiting Puy Mary is one of the best activities to do while in the Rhone-Alpes region.
Taking you on a tour to a hundred million years ago, Aven d’Orgnac is a vast cave with tons of formations. You can start your activities at the cave by watching the introductory film that shows how caves were formed in the Ardèche. This is the fit warmup before coming face to face with the subterranean landscapes in the cave.
The cave is divided into three chambers, the first of which is the De Joly Chamber, which includes a majestic 10,000 m² rocky landscape with ceilings reaching heights of up to 30 meters. The chamber includes a number of remarkable concretions varying from the colossal to the extremely delicate.
The second chamber is called the Chaos Chamber. The chamber is full of different illuminated sections, and inside the chamber, you will find out how water has sculpted the limestone rock over time molding a magnificent masterpiece with translucent tinges of purple, brown, and ochre.
The third and final chamber is called the Red Chamber where you will be approaching the secure walkway’s end. The chamber is a marvelous journey on its own taking you to the original gallery carved by the underground river that flowed in the same place over 6 million years ago.
Whether it is the winter sports or the grandiose landscapes and places, the Rhone-Alpes region should be on the top of your travel list. Full of amazing things to do and many activities for both adults and children, the Rhone-Alpes is fun for the whole family.