Imagine waking up on a cold morning to the dew and frost of the surrounding mountainscape, sipping your cup of coffee while surveying the slow-paced commotions coming to life to start a new day, proceeding with such grace and elegance as beautiful as the fairy tale-like backdrop. This is the imagined life at the French Alps. But reality is much more beautiful.
The Alps are not entirely French. The ranges are shared as well by Switzerland and Italy. The portion however that stands with France are collectively called the French Alps, and is home to notable photogenic towns such as Grenoble, Chamonix, Annecy, Chambéry, Évian-les-Bains and Albertville.
Because of their crystal clear lakes, magnificent hilltop views, and pristine forests, the French Alps is a favorite destination among visitors who want to commune with nature.
Source: Daily Express
All year-round, the Alps is filled with tourists and French locals looking to participate in some adventure on the ice. Various outdoor activities are touted from white water rafting to paragliding, sledding, and skiing. And the place is absolutely magical it simply takes your breath away! No exaggeration in that statement - perhaps even an oversimplification.
If it's your first time traveling around the Alps, it's easy to get lost in the choices. There are absolutely plenty of things to do around the area but our most recommended places and activities are condensed to the following.
Source: Alps in Luxury blog
The scenic town of Chamonix is located at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. All year round, the Mont Blanc's peak is covered in snow. Because of its position of eminence, sitting at an altitude of 4,807 meters, it offers an unparalleled view of the alpine mountains, easily drawing crowds from all over the world.
There are various spots of interests in Chamonix, aside from being the center of skiing and other activities in the area. Les Houches, for example, is frequented by both locals and tourists because of its village-like appeal composed of chalets you can rent out, hamlets, restaurants, shops, and farms!
You can also visit the Aiguille du Midi summit which is accessible via a 20-minute cable car ride. The summit gives you purely unhindered views of the Mont Blanc and the Glacier des Bossons.
Charmingly nicknamed "Little Venice," this town set by the lake is one of the prettiest villages you can find in France. Aside from its location in the French Alps, which perfectly compliments small town bridges with snow-capped mountains, the whole village seems to rise right out of a children's picture book. The lakeside promenade constitutes of wildly blossoming geraniums, especially in summer, swimming swans that elegantly glide through the waters, charming cafes, and cobblestone alleyways. There's nothing not to love in this old medieval quarter.
Head over to the Rue Sainte-Claire to grab some refreshments and take a leisurely walk at the lake shore parallel to the Avenue d'Albigny. You can also seek out the majestic architecture in town including the 15th-century Church of Saint-Maurice and the 16th-century Cathedral of Saint-Pierre, the 12th-century Palais de l'Isle, and the Musée du film d'animation.
Indeed, such richness for a small town.
Find the best French Alps accommodation here.
The Évian-les-Bains or commonly known as Évian located on the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is situated at the southeastern region of France. It's a commune like a civil township that is widely regarded as an upscale holiday resort and spa town.
Seated on the shores of Lac Léman or Lake Geneva, it is known to be frequented by guests that include royalty and high-profile celebrities.
With aesthetics that easily resemble that of Cannes’, this lakeside town features a gorgeous landscape with charming buildings and a superb promenade. The views are overwhelming spectacles, even at night.
In the lake, you can take a pedalo and go swimming. The marina offers a diverse variety of sumptuous lunches. You can also visit via your own yacht and find a mooring space for around €13 a night.
If you're up for a rewarding little adventure, the "little red train" in Chamonix is a worthwhile mention for this list. The train takes you on a short trip from Chamonix to a spot where you can view a large portion of the glacier and the surrounding terrain.
In Montenvers, there are two fine restaurants that serve great food. You will have to catch the gondola down to the ice caves which are close to the glacier. A great adventure and experience.
Aix-les-Bains is world-famous for its restorative leisure activities. Its natural mineral spring waters have been used since antiquity, dating back to the Roman times. In fact, the ruins of the Roman baths, along with other attractions such as the Temple of Diana, and the Arch of Campanus are open to the public.
Aix-les-Bains is known as a spa town with its modern thermal baths and spa establishments. The goal is to reinvigorate. After all, isn't that what vacations should be all about? Here, the services vary and a combination or a complete array of said services may be offered by each individual establishment. These include massages, saunas, spas, and steam rooms.
Of course, the spa rooms are not the only spots of interest in this area. Head over to the park of the Villa Chevalley in the Thermes Chevalley and you will be greeted into awe by splendid vistas of the Lake Bourget and the surrounding mountainscape.
The town hall was originally a 16th century structure called Château des Marquis d'Aix which boasts a magnificent staircase made entirely of stone.
If you're looking for art museums, the Musée Faure in 10 Boulevard des Côtes will be a point of appeal with its impressive collection of Rodin sculptures, faience ceramics, and Impressionist paintings.
Source: Les Plus Beaux Villages de France site
Proclaimed as one of France’s most beautiful villages, the village of Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval features 24 small hamlets that is cocooned by natural forest and a stunning waterfall, the Cascade du Rouget. The every day scene in the village feels like living within a dream.
The Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval is considered a municipality in the Haute-Savoie department within the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southeastern France.
The village sits inside the huge limestone mountain area of Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval. All around breathes the very idea of peace: idyllic alpine flora, snow-capped mountain peaks, mesmerizing flowing waters.
If you're coming during the summer, one of the most must-visit places is the Col du Galibier, located on the sunny valley of the northern Dauphiné district. Breathtaking views of the cool, green mountains and the neighboring ranges are sights to behold, making both ascent and descent leisurely and picturesque.
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Around July or August, the tourism department of the French Alps offer a set of different activities you can engage in, a recommended one if you’re visiting with family or friends. These include activities as diverse as wine tasting, nature walks, folk dancing, craft workshops, boules tournament, wild marmotte spotting, etc. They also offer recreational outdoor games.
Contact the local tourist offices here to inquire ahead about upcoming activities.
Source: Mountain Haven
Perhaps one of the best things in France is that, no matter where you are, you will always find good food. Even in the mountains! And the whole Rhone-Alps region is especially not an exception. Their delectable choices of gastronomical delights include Fondue, Raclette, Tartiflette, and famous mountain cheeses like Tome de Savoie or Beaufort as well as popular local wines Mondeuse and Genepi.
When it comes to restaurants, the French Alps don’t fall short of giving you enough options. There are restaurants for whatever budget you may have and the dishes never disappoint. Hop from one town to the next and you will find a great place to eat in.
Another great place to discover local food are the local markets which don’t only sell food but also different kinds of arts, crafts, and curious merchandise.
Source: The Denver Post
If you happen to be visiting the Alps around July, you will have the opportunity to witness the global spectacle of Tour de France, an annual multiple stage bicycle race held to be one of the most prestigious bicycle races in the world and participated by athletes from countries around the world.
The unmissable event and the crowd that goes with it is heavily anticipated and prepared for by the locals in the area. Restaurants are frequented, the chalets and rentals are mostly occupied, and merchandise are solid in quaint little shops. You will absolutely love the festive atmosphere and the lively crowd.
For more information about the route and dates, click here.
The French Alps are full of majestic corners to discover. It’s hard to see them all in one day. Take your time to explore the different places and participate in different activities to truly immerse in the lifestyle.
There are many ways to explore the rich landscape. The little train from Chamonix is one way to take in the great mountainscape vistas. If you prefer to take it slow, stroll around and get intimate with the places you choose to get to know, and if you’re up for some speed, go on a bike tour. It’s an exciting way to get involved, not to mention, to create a worthwhile experience that is one for the books.
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