France's largest region in terms of size and second largest in population, the Rhône-Alpes region is a very attractive place for travelers.
The Rhône-Alpes region has a huge diversity of landscapes due to its climactic and topographic variation.
The topography of the Rhône-Alpes region consists of two areas of high elevation divided by the Rhône Valley, which runs north-south. The western mountains are part of the Massif Central. It is an area of high hills and plateaus, mostly made of old, acidic metamorphic rock. East of the Rhône Valley plains are the Alps. these tall, young mountains are themselves very diverse and should be divided into at least two groups. A central part of the region is occupied by a north-south line of well-defined mountainous massifs: from north to south, Bornes, Beauges, Chartreuse, Vercors, Baronies. These mountains are mainly made of limestone and are becoming a karst landscape. Another, less prominent valley divides this central area from the eastern part of the region, the Alps proper, which contains some of Europe's highest mountains, such as Mont Blanc. These mountains are made of acidic rocks such as granite.
The diverse climate of the Rhône-Alpes region is due to a blending of four weather influences: Mediterranean to the south, Alpine to the east, Continental to the north, and Atlantic to the west.
The easiest way for people traveling from abroad to arrive is through one of the major international airports in the region which include: Cointrin International Airport in Geneva, Switzerland (IATA:GVA) , Bron International Airport in Lyon (IATA: LYN) , and Grenoble Isère International Airport in Grenoble(IATA:GNB) .
Europe in general and France specifically has a wonderful network of high speed trains that can bring you into the region in a matter of hours from such far flung places as Belgium and Germany.
All the ski resorts of the region are connected by major highways and paved mountain roads, be sure to carry change though as the motor ways (denoted by A## are pay roads). If you're not travelling by car, then the most convenient way to access these sites from major airports and train stations is by private taxi. Chambery Airport features a handy multi-lingual taxi service, Taxis Savoie , which can provide drivers fluent in English, German, Spanish and other European languages. An other less convenient but also less expensive option are the SAT buses.
Mont Blanc, the highest point in all of Europe, it can easily be visited from the mountain town of Chamonix. A popular activity is to ride the tram to the top of the Aguille-de-midi above the town on clear days and ride the cable cars across to the Italian side of the mountain spanning the massive Mer-de-glace glacier with only one support tower.
Explore Chamonix, a little village near Mt. Blanc, also don't miss the scenic and serene Vallee Du Giffre with its tiny French mountain villages located between the Chamonix valley and Portes du Soleil. Visit Annecy, with its charming old town and stunning lake, and paddle boat rentals. Other charming alpine towns include, Les Gets, Samoëns, Morillon, St. Gervais, La Clusaz,Albertville and Morzine.
In the winter months this is the heart of Skiing in France with many of the largest and most well developed resorts located here including: Chamonix, Portes du Soleil, Le Grande Massif, Flaine, La Clusaz, Megeve, Les Trois Vallee, Les Grandes Montets, Les Houches, Les Contamines, St. Gervais.
In the summer the region is also well know for Paragliding, lovely hiking in the Cirque Du Fer-A-Cheval national park, and of course year round traditional dining.
Raclette, Gratin Dauphinois, Ravioles, Caillettes, Tartiflette, Fondue, Local smoked meats and sausages, As well as Numerous kinds of local cheese including: Comté, Tomme, Gruyère, etc... The Valrhona chocolate (created in 1922), Nougat de Montelimar (which is white nougat made with sugar, honey, white of egg, vanilla, almonds, pistachio nuts or crystallized fruit), The Pogne de Romans (large Brioche made with eggs and flavoured with orange flour and rum. The origins of this dish lie in the middle ages.), La Caillette de Chabeuil (an excellent little paté made of liver and pork meat flavoured with herbs.)
The main wine appellations in the area are Vin de Savoie, Vin de Savoie Mousseux, crépy Roussette de Savoie, and seyssel. Vin de Savoie, the area's main appellation, is for dry wines-white, red, and rosé. The grapes for red wines are gamay, mondeuse and pinot noir. Many wine aficionados prefer the Mondeuse-based wines. White wines make up 75 percent of the production. They're made primarily from jacquère but aligoté, altesse, chardonnay and chasselas are also used. The Vin de Savoie Mousseux AC is for sparkling wines made from Altesse, Molette, and Chardonnay.
This is a relatively low crime area, one notable issue being occasional ski theft during the winter sports season.