Regions - Southeastern France - Rhone-Alps
Regions — Southeastern France – Rhone-Alps
Region at a glance
Major City: Lyon
Two hours from Paris by TGV train
Known best for the French Alps, excellent skiing, hiking, biking and outdoor activities
Gastronomic capital of France with many famous chefs
Spas and resorts
The Rhone-Alps region lies nestled beneath the impressive flanks of Mont Blanc, Europe's highest peak at 15,771 feet, and protector of the regions borders with Switzerland and Italy. The region presents an extraordinary natural environment: stunning mountains offering some of the finest and most extensive skiing areas in the world such as the Three Valleys, Val d'Isère and Chamonix, lush valleys filled with orchards and the vineyards of Beaujolais and the Rhone Valley, great riverways and scores of crystalline lakes; the deep gorges and high plateaux of the Ardèche, studded with prehistoric caves, and national parks full of deep forests and flower-filled meadows.
Apart from its spectacular scenery, Rhone-Alps's two thousand-year history as a cultural crossroads has blessed the region with a rich blend of customs, architecture and sights of interest. The city of Lyon boasts an especially diverse architectural heritage dating from Gallo-Roman remains to stylish modern buildings, with a magnificent Renaissance old city, 27 museums and a multitude of shops specializing in everything from silk to antiques to marionettes.
Not far from Lyon lie the vineyards and golden-stone villages of the Beaujolais, the Dombes "land of a thousand lakes," the medieval village of Pérouges and the Roman ruins of Vienne with its yearly jazz festival.
Eastward, toward the Alps, one finds the university cities of Grenoble, full of art and folklore museums and Chambéry, with its Chateau of the Dukes of Savoy, and Chartreuse, home of the Carthusian Monastery and famous for its distilled liquor of the same name. Here are also the turn-of-the-century towns of Annecy, Aix-les Bains, Evian and Divonne-les-Bains, the last three as popular for their casinos as they are for their spas.
But the Rhone-Alps' "pièce de résistance" is its famous cuisine. Five of France's 19 three-star chefs work their magic here, citing the quality of local produce, fish and game as the key to their success.
Places of interest
Aix-les-Bains Spa resort on the Lac du Bourget; golf, casino, boat excursions to the Royal Abbey of Hautecombe
Albertville 1992 Winter Olympics museum
Annecy Canal-filled lakeside town, 12th century chateau, old quarter
the Ardèche Deep gorges and high plateaux, rafting, prehistoric sites
Beaujolais Vineyards and golden-stone villages
Chambéry Old quarter, Dukes of Savoie chateau, Savoie museum
Chamonix Site of 1st Winter Olympics in 1924, world capital of mountain climbing at the foot of Mont Blanc, excursions by cable car to Aiguille du Midi, Mer de Glace glacier
the Dombes Land of a thousand lakes, ornithological park
the Drome Stone villages, sunflower and lavender
Evian-les-Bains Spa and casino on Lake Geneva, home of Evian water
Grenoble Site of 1968 Winter Olympics, fine arts museum, Dauphiné and Stendhal Museum, Fort de la Bastille by cable for a panoramic view of the Alps. Route Napoleon
Lyon Gallo-Roman artifacts, Renaissance quarter, Historical Fabric Museum, silk and silkworks museum
Montélimar Nougat candy capital of France
Perouges Lovely medieval village, Galette de Perouges
St. Etienne Museum of Modern Art.
Technical tourism and sports
From Lyon to Bresse and Bugey by way of the Dombes, food is an art and a science. The poultry, cheese, freshwater fish, mushrooms and wines are superb. The city of Lyon alone has over 30 renowned restaurants. Savoie produces many fine cheeses such as Reblochon and Beaufort and is famous for its fondue Savoyarde. Cured meats and Gratin Dauphinois are other regional specialties.
Beaujolais, Côte Rotie, St-Julien, Condrieu, Tain-Hermitage, Chiroubles and Julienas, among others, are the wines produced in the Rhône-Alpes.
Cooking is Provençal, characterized by garlic and olive oil with delicious sausages and smoked hams. The region produces delicious pastries and sweetmeats made from almond paste and flavored with aniseed, pistachio and orange - flower water. Fish is popular along the coast: fish soup bourride in Sète. Wines include the reds of Corbières, Minervois, and the sweet Banyuls and Muscat.
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