14 High Trip Locations within the French Alps

The Alps are the most important mountain chain in Europe – and one of many longest and highest mountain ranges on the earth. Their majesty stretches for greater than 700 miles throughout eight international locations, with the very best peak, Mont Blanc, sitting close to France’s border with each Italy and Switzerland. Mixed with its proximity to Lake Geneva, the French portion of the Alps gives a number of the most picturesque ski resorts, alpine villages and trip alternatives on the earth.

Snowboarding, whereas not required to get pleasure from your go to, is a big a part of the French Alps tradition – as is the après-ski (actually “after-ski”), which is what occurs when the skis come off. In the summertime, it is all concerning the Tour de France, an annual males’s biking competitors that passes by means of the Alps. Vacationers can soak in pure sizzling springs to unwind after a day spent hitting the slopes, exploring by cable automotive or doing nothing in any respect. Strap in your skis and pack your mountaineering boots for these prime locations within the postcard-worthy French Alps, the most effective locations to go to in France.

(Observe: A few of the following actions, points of interest and places could also be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. New insurance policies could also be in place, together with capability restrictions, reservation necessities or masks mandates. Test with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, the U.S. Division of State and native tourism boards earlier than touring.)

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

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The primary Winter Olympics have been held in 1924 in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. The city, extra generally known as Chamonix, sits within the coronary heart of France’s Haute-Savoie division, a subdivision of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes area (like how the U.S. has counties inside states). A century after these incipient Olympic Video games, this scenic space in southeastern France – bordering Italy and Switzerland – continues to welcome guests from all over the world to participate in its premiere snowboarding and snow-gazing alternatives. You will discover the nation’s highest cable automotive in Chamonix on the Aigulle du Midi mountain. Superior skiers and people merely courageous sufficient to take the journey will enterprise greater than 12,600 ft into the sky to the place to begin for the Vallée Blanche. This “off-piste” space of the French Alps – the place the snow isn’t specifically ready for snowboarding – gives up glacial snowboarding and celestial vantage factors from the foot of the Mont Blanc massif mountain vary.

For these extra snug on rails somewhat than skis, e-book a journey on the Montenvers-Mer de Glace practice. This cherry-red cogwheel practice carries passengers from Chamonix to Montenvers for entry to the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), the largest glacier in France. Guests could have the chance to go to an ice cave within the glacier and study extra about each its historical past and future amid local weather change. Once you’re carried out exploring, heat up with a standard meal on the Refuge du Montenvers restaurant earlier than heading again to Chamonix.

Aix-les-Bains

Hautecombe Abbey on the edge of Lac du Bourget in Aix-les-Bains.

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Set on the japanese shore of Lac du Bourget – France’s largest pure lake – Aix-les-Bains is an inviting Savoy resort city within the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes area. It as soon as hosted the summer season escapades of royalty, together with American writer Mark Twain. The glacial waters of the Lac du Bourget set a relaxed ambiance, simply found by strolling the Esplanade du Lac, a lakeside park and walkway shaded by timber. The rugged mountain panorama might be glimpsed throughout the lake in addition to the Hautecombe Abbey, a former monastery the place many members of the Home of Savoy are buried. Mont Revard is a first-rate instance of the limestone cliffs present in Aix-les-Bains. The ski station on the prime boasts a formidable community of cross-country ski trails for winter guests, whereas in summer season expert cyclists try the ascent – together with the rivals of the Tour de France, which has been held right here quite a few occasions. Guests declare the views are stupendous, even when you arrive by automotive.

In the event you search a extra low-key trip in Aix-les-Bains, whereas away the times on the Musée Faure, an artwork museum, that includes the works of Rodin and impressionist work, or take a daylong soak within the restorative waters of the spa city’s thermal baths. Those that admire architectural aesthetics will probably be in awe of the Roman ruins right here, just like the Temple of Diana, discovered alongside belle epoque buildings together with the On line casino Grand Cercle and the resort Le Mirabeau.

Alpe d’Huez

Stunning winter landscape and Alpe d'Huez ski resort at sunrise.

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At greater than 6,000 ft above sea stage, Alpe d’Huez is a year-round resort city within the French Alps. Its Pic Blanc glacier reaches practically 11,000 ft and is accessible in winter or summer season. Alpe d’Huez has earned the nickname “Island of the Solar” for its ample days of sunshine on the slopes, which heat skiers and snowboarders of all ages and skills.

It’s possible you’ll begin your keep by marveling on the Grotte du Glace, an ice cave on the prime of one of many ski lifts that options sculptures. The lifts proceed to function even in July and August for hikers and mountain bikers seeking to benefit from 21 thrilling hairpin bends often employed within the Tour de France. The lifts additionally grant entry to the smaller Alpine villages of Vaujany and Ouncesen Oisans from Alpe d’Huez. Whereas most native eating places on the town are recognized for cream- and cheese-based delicacies, the newly renovated Le Génépi serves a menu of plates made with contemporary, native substances. Current patrons name the restaurant a much-needed infusion of culinary excellence on this French Alps city with its distinctive dishes and scenic views from the terrace.

Chablais UNESCO International Geopark

The mountainous space generally known as the Chablais UNESCO International Geopark is about on the France-Switzerland border and spans greater than 60 French cities. The Chablais’ title means “head of the lake,” referring to Lake Geneva. The UNESCO recognition acknowledges the world’s tens of millions of years of geological historical past alongside cultural heritage similar to native cheese- and wine-making practices. The Chablais was designated a “geopark” to spotlight the bond between folks and nature right here, one thing evident all through the French Alps given the emphasis on water and pure springs. UNESCO gives a tourist map online that showcases a number of the many locations to go to all through the Chablais – abbeys, castles, museums and extra. Guests to the Musée de la Musique Mécanique (Mechanical Music Museum) in Les Will get have been stunned by the ample devices it shows, with loads of quirky and vintage contraptions to spend an hour ogling.

Évian-les-Bains

Lakefront view of Évian-les-Bains.

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Inside the Chablais UNESCO International Geopark, Évian-les-Bains is extensively recognized for its mineral springs – you may additionally acknowledge it because the namesake for a preferred water bottle firm – however this quintessential French spa city quenches a thirst for magnificence in addition to water. Situated on the southern shore of Lake Geneva, Évian-les-Bains was a favourite of the Lumière household: the exact same Lumières credited with serving to invent fashionable cinema. Villa Lumière was the household’s summer season residence, and self-guided excursions of the now-hotel are allowed on weekdays. The Palais Lumière, which constituted the formal thermal baths through the early twentieth century, homes cultural and artwork exhibitions at this time. The neoclassical-style theater, courting to 1883, was created by a scholar of Charles Garnier, the architect who constructed the Opéra Garnier in Paris.

The Pré Curieux water gardens in Évian-les-Bains, in the meantime, are a singular lakeside habitat used for analysis however open to visitors who come by solar-powered boat with a information from Might by means of October. In the event you search one thing to do across the winter holidays as a substitute, try Le Fabuleux Village des Flottins, a pageant of magical creatures created out of driftwood from the shores of Lake Geneva and elevated with mild shows. Previous contributors rave that the flottin sculptures are uncommon and breathtaking – and advise to not miss the stalls of “vin chaud” (sizzling mulled wine) and pancakes alongside the parade route. Everytime you go to this quaint French Alps vacation spot, do not miss a Michelin-starred meal on the restaurant Les Fresques.

Courchevel

Winter view of ski lifts with pine trees in background in ski resort Courchevel.

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Courchevel is a snowboarding fanatic’s dream, with one resort unfold throughout six villages close to Vanoise Nationwide Park, a nature protect that was France’s first nationwide park. This French Alps ski resort is a part of Les Trois Vallées (the Three Valleys), which is the most important linked ski space on the earth. There are greater than 100 ski runs – and loads of moguls for snowboarders and snowmobilers – throughout a wide range of expertise ranges. Skiers preferring ample off-piste territory ought to give close by resort Val Thorens a attempt. Méribel, in the meantime, one other ski resort in Les Trois Vallées that neighbors Courchevel, caters to households. A part of the attraction of ski tradition is the choices while you’re carried out with the slopes; après-ski at Courchevel contains the bustling Le Tremplin restaurant and the Copiña Courchevel bar, the place tapas, beer, wine and cocktails are served in a smooth setting. Company say the pleasant employees, scrumptious drinks and upbeat ambiance – typically with reside music – made them return to Copiña Courchevel time and again.

Serre Chevalier

Beautiful view from top of ski station in summer in Serre Chevalier.

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Inside France’s Haute-Alpes division are 4 communes (the French equal of cities) that make up the Serre Chevalier valley and ski resort, the place sunshine is plentiful all year long. Within the valley of the Guisane river, between the Cerces mountain vary and Écrins Nationwide Park, you may discover the commune of Le Monêtier-les-Bains, a former Roman metropolis full with thermal baths that at this time are open from Might to December. Spagoers at Les Grands Bains du Monêtier word that the services can get crowded however a soak is a should, particularly after a day spent snowboarding or mountaineering.

One other commune, Briançon, serves as a UNESCO World Heritage Web site with loads of historical past to discover; it is also one of many highest cities in Europe at an altitude of greater than 4,300 ft. On the summit of Serre Chevalier, absorb a panorama of Écrins from 3,600 ft up in your manner down {the summertime} zip line. When you have youthful relations in tow, children aged 4 to 12 could make use of the valley’s high-altitude picket playground known as Marmot Camp, named for the squirrel-like alpine marmot.

Val d’Isère

Evening landscape and Val d'Isère ski resort in French Alps.

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Festivals preserve issues vigorous year-round at Val d’Isère, a French ski resort city close to the Italian border. In the summertime, sporting and cultural occasions like races and festivals entertain locals and vacationers alike. Val d’Isère is without doubt one of the prime hosts of FIS Alpine Ski World Cup competitions, and it is famed for high-difficulty and off-piste snowboarding. However you do not have to know what you are doing to benefit from the snowboarding right here, which guests name seamless and user-friendly, with loads of instructors for all ranges of capacity and fairly priced elevate tickets. The Alpine resort city additionally prides itself on its après-ski scene: The beautiful Bar de l’Ouillette, for instance, serves crepes lakeside. Les 3 Caves – comprising three places at La Folie Douce – boasts a high-altitude wine cellar, a cave for cheese and one for cigars.

Saint-Gervais-les-Bains

View of cottages on hillside in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains.

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About 40 miles from Geneva, Switzerland, sits Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, a small French city that makes a pleasing jumping-off level for daytrips to Chamonix or longer sojourns to the Swiss metropolis of Lausanne or Turin, Italy. Saint-Gervais, surrounded by Mont Blanc amongst different towering peaks, can be a prime French Alps vacation spot in its personal proper, with bountiful eateries and loads of mountain air to inhale. Take a 70-minute journey on the Mont Blanc tramway for scenic views; a 30-minute stroll from the highest will get you to the Bionnassay Glacier. You may also head to the cable automotive on the western a part of Saint-Gervais to ascend to Le Bettex, a small village within the mountains. Cease right here to dine at La Flèche d’Or, a resort and restaurant serving conventional Savoie dishes with native produce, then proceed within the cable automotive to Mont d’Arbois for one of the best views. Again in Saint-Gervais, Les Bains du Mont Blanc is a world-class thermal spa making use of the area’s naturally heat water.

Mercantour Nationwide Park

Mountain landscape with lake view in Mercantour National Park.

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Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, essentially the most southeastern area of France, homes the long-lasting French Riviera (Côte d’Azur) alongside a stretch of the Alps. Unfold throughout the area’s Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence departments is Mercantour Nationwide Park, about 30 miles from Good. A number of valleys, together with the Ubaye Valley, are a part of this greater than 250-square-mile nationwide park, which is residence to greater than 2,000 species of flowering crops in addition to hundreds of petroglyphs from the Bronze Age. Park trails protecting practically 400 miles will expose you to the biodiversity of this unspoiled pure haven within the southern French Alps. Vacationers could get pleasure from kayaking the turquoise waters of the Verdon River by means of the Verdon Gorge or mountaineering across the rim of the canyon. The wild and unspoiled Ubaye Valley attracts out of doors fans, who discover their technique to its city of Barcelonnette to hike, canoe and ski.

Grenoble

Grenoble in winter at sunset, Haute-Savoie, France.

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Grenoble, France, is the European Inexperienced Capital for 2022, that means this vacation spot is an eco-friendly possibility for a French Alps trip. The mountains and the metropolitan metropolis work in concord, providing guests the eating places and lodging of an enormous metropolis together with the pure sights of protected environments just like the close by Chartreuse Regional Nature Park. Talking of inexperienced, the Grande Chartreuse monastery – located within the Chartreuse mountain vary north of Grenoble – is the house of the Carthusian monks who safekeep the key recipe of inexperienced chartreuse liqueur to this present day. The monastery is not open to the general public, however you may go to the close by Grand Chartreuse museum to study extra concerning the Carthusian Order.

The Belledonne mountain vary, in the meantime, is understood for breathtaking vistas, together with swirling sunsets. Past biking, mountaineering and snowboarding, thrill-seekers can paraglide right here or take it sluggish within the winter with snowshoeing. Within the metropolis itself, La Bastille is a fort on the middle of Grenoble, excellent for a day spent above town – a cable automotive will take you there, or you may hike to the highest. About 10 miles south of Grenoble, the French-style gardens and chateau of Domaine de Vizille are so elegant you may not count on the Museum of the French Revolution is housed right here, however artwork and artifacts mix within the fortress’s galleries to stroll you thru that historic interval. Children will love recognizing the swans, geese, deer and different animals that roam freely on the protected grounds.

La Clusaz

Gondola above the village of La Clusaz in summer.

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Wine and cheese – a number of the finest you’ve got ever tasted – are ample all through France. And in line with La Clusaz, a commune roughly 40 miles west of Chamonix within the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes area, these French staples are one thing to be celebrated. The annual Fête du Reblochon (Reblochon Pageant) exalts cheese and the native farmers who produce it with demonstrations, tastings, a parade, and loads of folks dancing and merriment. Other than cheese, chocolate truffles, white vermouth and sure wine varietals are all native specialties.

Current guests to La Clusaz name it a beautiful little ski city with ample eating places and comfortable bars to maintain refreshed. If you wish to burn off some energy du fromage, head to Col des Aravis for mountaineering trails with iconic French Alps views: the white-capped Mont Blanc, pine timber, mountain flowers, a glacial lake and even a tiny chapel. Journey lovers visiting La Clusaz could need to check out equestrian skijoring, which is the game of being pulled by a horse by means of the snow on skis – not for the faint of coronary heart.

Megève

Winter wonderland in Megève.

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Megève has been the stage metropolis for the Tour de France solely twice, however its elegant ambiance makes it a good selection for internet hosting occasions that draw crowds from throughout the nation – and the globe – together with the annual equestrian Leaping Worldwide de Megève. When there may be not a prestigious sporting occasion on the town, vacationers in Megève can nonetheless discover world-class eating and purchasing. For instance, chef Anne-Sophie Pic, essentially the most Michelin-starred girl on the earth, helms La Dame de Pic – Le 1920, the restaurant on the 4 Seasons Lodge Megève. The village retailers span vintage furnishings to native produce to in style style manufacturers. Once you want a relaxation from purchasing, cease in for tea by day and Champagne within the night at Le Georges within the luxe Lodge Mont Blanc. A wide range of baby and teenage programming in Megève invitations the entire household to trip, with a wide range of sports activities programs and cultural workshops.

Yvoire

Small alley in town of Yvoire, France.

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Usually thought-about considered one of France’s most stunning villages, Yvoire is a part of the Chablais UNESCO International Geopark space for good cause, contemplating its 700 years of historical past and present-day attraction. Like so many basic French Alps cities, Yvoire is nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva; its nickname is “gem of the lake.” Inbuilt 1306, Château d’Yvoire (Yvoire Citadel) is a landmark within the medieval city that is still standing at this time; whereas not open to the general public, it makes for a formidable {photograph}. However, the Jardin des Cinq Sens (Backyard of the 5 Senses) entices sightseers with gardens to discover by means of contact and odor. Guests to the gardens point out that it’s tucked away, however as soon as you discover it your senses will thanks. This romantic vacation spot within the French Alps reserves its streets for pedestrians, so you may stroll hand in hand to your coronary heart’s content material. What’s extra, flowers are so plentiful in Yvoire that it’s usually known as the “French flower village.”

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