Travel Guide to the Rhône-Alpes
France’s sun-dappled southern regions have long been a favourite with both locals and tourists alike. Provence is perhaps too tempting while Lyon simply a gastronomic layover before the lure of Paris pleasures. We hope to entice you onto one of France’s best-kept secrets: The Auvergne Rhone-Alpes.
When to Visit the Rhone-Alpes:
Winter, spring, summer or fall, the climate of Rhône-Alpes is in one word ‘variable.’ In the summer, which is generally hot, there are often heavy storms. Winters tend to be mild, with the warm months of April–May and October–December being peak travel times. Overall, the region enjoys close to 2,000 hours of sunshine a year, and summers are hot, especially in the south. Spring and autumn are mostly mild, and the Alps are perfectly cold and snowy for winter skiing. But a variable climate, although unpredictable, is no bad thing. It means you will access a different set of activities, depending on what time of year you choose to travel to the Rhône-Alpes.
Getting Around the Rhône-Alpes
- Airports: You will have no trouble reaching Rhône-Alpes by air, as it is served by a number of major international airports including Lyon and Grenoble, as well as Cointrin in Geneva, Switzerland. Rhône-Alpes towns Chambery and Valence also have their own, smaller airports.
- Public transport: France’s network of high-speed international trains cover parts of Rhône-Alpes, and some journeys can also be made on SAT coach-style buses, which are often the longest but lowest-priced way of getting around. Taxis are readily available at airports and train stations but can prove tricky to source elsewhere unless booked in advance.
- Hiring a car: It’s easy to hire a car in the Rhône-Alpes region, with international rental firms operating out of all of the airports. Major motorways and mountain roads connect many bigger resorts. Visiting this region with a car allows you the freedom to explore pretty much everything at your own pace.
Highlights of the Rhone-Alpes
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First Stop on our Rhone-Alpes Travel Guide: Lyon
Check out our personal recommendations of the must-sees in Lyon, France including Restaurants, Hotels, Vistas, Squares and Districts.
With its ancient center bisected by narrow streets of Medieval and Renaissance houses, Lyon has much to offer the curious and hungry visitor. Often referred to as the “world capital of gastronomy,” the city owes its tasty reputation to its original guinguette’s – those welcoming and familiar outside bistros bordering the banks of the Saône. With 2000 plus years of history, Lyon is not only famous for her heritage but also for her gastronomy, as well as famous Chef sons, Paul Bocuse and Daniel Boulud and is an excellent historic and tasty home base to start your Rhône-Alpes road trip.
Our Rhone-Alpes Travel Guide heads North East and the belle epoche town of Evian-les-Bains
Heres everything you need to know for this jump-off town to the French Alpes!
Evian-les-Bains is an exciting mix of locals and tourists alike.
Ferry commuters to Lausanne, alpine hikers and skiers from Britain and Germany, spa enthusiasts taking the famous warm and soothing waters of Evian Thermal Spa, Evian les Thermes, all descend on this historic Belle Epoch resort town of 8000 residents, all the while enjoying the mountains, the lake, and of course quenching their mineral water thirst with bottle upon bottle of the town’s ‘Evian Eau’ or Evian water.
Ahhh: the Ardèche region!
Next stop on our Rhone-Alpes Travel Guide: the beautiful Ardèche region its wild and rugged character and climbing, winding roads leading the nature lover into the secluded backcountry of the rolling, curving, cliff-hugging Gorges de l’Ardèche where hiking, kayaking, Ardeche camping and field upon field of purple lavender and a Palaeolithic cave welcome both the outdoor enthusiast and the ancient history buff. Add jaw-dropping vistas, pristine lakes, a gruelling bike race careening past majestic cathedrals, quaint Ardèche villages, classic chateaux’s and majestic mountains, making this natural reserve a must on any nature-loving vacation destination bucket list.
and some hidden gems from the Rhone-Alpes Travel Guide
Consider travelling further afield and enjoy the wine, food, and hospitality of the city of Vienne, perhaps most famous for its Jazz à Vienne where at sunset, you can grab a seat on one of the sun-splashed stones of the Vienne Roman Theatre and get your jazz on with such international artists as Diana Krall, Chick Korea, Seal and Tonya Baker.
As the capital of the Drome department, Valence is known as the Town of the Romans and primarily a leather and shoemaking center. Overlooking the Rhône River and in close proximity to vineyards producing Crozes-Hermitages, St Joseph and St Peray wines, this beautiful medieval town makes an excellent stop off for wine tours of the region.
Round out your entire Rhone-Alpes Travel Guide with these handy links you may want to bookmark;
- Don’t forget travel insurance! We work with World Nomads because with their ‘Explorer’ option coverage you’ll discover how you can make a difference and make more responsible and sustainable travel choices.
- Feel reborn with the Auvergne Rhone Alpes tourist site. It is bound to inspire your trip!
- The website viamichelin.com will confirm drive times and distances to the ski hills, the wineries, the chateaux and the lavender fields including tolls, fuel costs and suggested routes.
- Renting a car is easy. We rely on Eurocar for our rental needs. This gives you the flexibility to tour at your own pace and set your own itineraries.
Please note: This post contains product links from World Nomads which are affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, we will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you) which goes towards maintaining followsummer. Merci beacoup en advance! (because we are in France after all!)
World Traveler, Writer, and Blogger, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the followsummer.com travel blog. A former Actor, current shower-singer, and non-hipster foodie. Loves his week-end house in St Marys, Ontario. Dad to Sophia, Ariel, and Hastings three of the best cats in the world.