A preferred destination for lovers of mountain landscapes and outdoor leisure activities, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and its exceptional natural heritage are a haven for hikers who love protected, unspoilt countryside and sportier visitors in search of thrills.
From walks in the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Nature Park or the Vanoise National Park to cross-country skiing in the Bauges, through rock climbing in the Mont-Blanc massif, canoe-kayaking in the Sioule gorges or swimming in the lakes of Annecy, Aiguebelette, Aydat, Le Bourget, Grangent and Chambon, you’ll be spoilt for choice at holiday time. Skiing fans will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of winter sports resorts in the French Alps! Less athletic visitors can also enjoy the wonders of nature by travelling along the famous Route des Grandes Alpes, an exceptional itinerary dotted with mountain passes at over 2,000 metres in altitude! And to unwind, you can’t beat a rest on the lake shores of the Massif Central and the Alps, or a pampering break in the thermal spas of Aix-les-Bains, Brides-les-Bains, Bourbon-l’Archambault, Chaudes-Aigues, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, Royat, Uriage-les-Bains or Vichy.
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes also boasts a remarkable built heritage. Its castle forts, Romanesque churches, typical villages and towns of great architectural and cultural importance, like Annecy, Chambéry, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Le Puy-en-Velay, Montluçon, Moulins and Riom, are sure to wow you! History enthusiasts and lovers of old buildings mustn’t miss the chance to visit some major heritage sites, like Lyon’s historical city centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the archaeological site of Saint-Romain-en-Gal, Souvigny Priory, Orcival Basilica, Brou Royal Monastery, the medieval towns of Charroux and Salers, the picturesque villages of Balazuc, Bonneval-sur-Arc, Labeaume, Pérouges and Yvoire, and the castles of Anjony, Crussol, Murol, Tournoël and Le Touvet.
South of Lyon, on either side of the Rhône Valley, stand two favourite destinations for holidaymakers: Drôme on one side, with its charming villages, gently rolling hills, lavender fields and mountains, and the Ardèche on the other, with its famous gorges so loved by kayakers, characterful villages, volcanic sites, medieval castles and superb panoramas.
Iconic and legendary, the famous French Riviera is a top destination for holidaymakers, nestled between the Alps, the Italian border and the Mediterranean Sea. Enjoying a mild and sunny climate all year round, this pleasant territory stretching along the Var and Alpes-Maritimes coast offers no shortage of sites to discover! Always popular with fans of sightseeing and sunbathing, the Côte d’Azur is famous the world over for its famous destinations like Cannes, Nice, Monaco and Saint-Tropez. The lively seaside resorts like Juan-les-Pins, Sainte-Maxime and Hyères, beautiful sandy or stony beaches, the wild creeks of the Estérel, prestigious Baroque heritage, and charming villages like Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Èze and Bormes-les-Mimosas, are among its many must-see attractions.
In between visits to these attractions, you can enjoy some delicious regional products and famous specialities. Cheeses from Auvergne and Savoie, green lentils from Le Puy, Lyonnaise salad, potée auvergnate stew, poultry from Bresse, tartiflette, raclette and fondue, Romans ravioles, wines from Côtes du Rhône and Saint-Pourçain, Montélimar nougat, Saint-Genix cake and pompe aux pommes (a local apple pie) are all packed with flavour to tickle your taste bud!
Another major destination in the region, the famous Provence, so highly prized by artists and lovers of old buildings, is always a byword for charm and the good life. With its peaceful hills where you can hear the crickets chirping, its wonderful fields of lavender and olive trees, its maquis scrubland fragrant with the scent of thyme and rosemary, its impressive Verdon gorges, exceptional calanques (rocky inlets), secluded creeks and sandy beaches, it has something to amaze every visitor. This sought-after land has many attractions, and you can’t talk about Provence without mentioning the magnificent hillside villages of Luberon, the old city of the Avignon popes, the old town of Aix-en-Provence, the ancient arenas of Arles, the famous Sainte-Victoire mountain immortalised by the painter Paul Cézanne, the charming small town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, the majestic citadel of Sisteron or the ceramics made in the picturesque village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.
The PACA region also includes the Alps and therefore appeals to lovers of the mountains and outdoor activities, with its countless hiking paths weaving through Mercantour National Park, Le Queyras Regional Nature Park and Les Écrins National Park, its renowned ski resorts such as Serre Chevalier, Montgenèvre, La Foux d’Allos, Auron, Isola 2000 and Valberg, as well as the magnificent Lake Serre-Ponçon, a veritable sea in the mountains that’s ideal for water sports!
Also popular for its tasty food and ancestral traditions, Provence-Alps-French Riviera clearly has everything a visitor could wish for, with its colourful markets and flavoursome specialities like olive oil, tapenade, tian, Sisteron lamb, Banon cheese, Cavaillon melon, Menton lemons, Calissons d’Aix biscuits and Provence honey.
The third biggest island in the western Mediterranean, after Sicily and Sardinia (183 kilometres long, 83 kilometres wide and 2,706 metres above sea level at its highest point), Corsica is a true natural paradise where the heritage is wonderfully well-protected. Very attached to its traditions, this characterful land clearly deserves its nickname, “the island of beauty”! Located around 180 kilometres from the French Riviera, the birthplace of the famous Napoleon Bonaparte has no shortage of unique sites to enjoy.
Particularly popular with lovers of outdoor pursuits, this unspoilt land invites you to discover its charming mountainside villages, little wild creeks, nature reserves full of fauna and flora, golden beaches with crystal clear waters (ideal for sunbathing), colourful sea beds, mountain lakes and magnificent hiking trails, like the very famous GR20 that runs across Corsica from north to south. From renowned seaside resorts to mountain heights, the diverse and varied viewpoints are among the island of beauty’s many strong points, along with its pleasant climate.
Corsica is also famous for its cities, and if you’re spending a few days in this magnificent region, you simply must drop by Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi, Corte, Porto-Vecchio and Sartène!
The local gastronomy is also an important part of the area’s appeal to tourists, whether it’s cheese, charcuterie or chestnut specialities. Brocciu, coppa, figatelli, as well as polenta and fiadone, are a treat for visitors looking to sample the authentic flavours of the region.