Where to Go in the French Alps

BY OuiPlease TIMEApril 1, 2022 PRINT

The French Alps are a mountainous region in southeastern France. The villages of Chamonix, Annecy, and Grenoble are terrific destinations to add to your travel itinerary.


Megève is one of France’s leading winter sports resorts, offering opportunities for downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding. The quaint medieval village of Megève dates back to the 14th century and offers an authentic Alpine experience.

As a typical mountain village, Megève has narrow cobblestone streets, a main town square, and a historic parish church. The atmosphere is charming and vibrant, and the village is also well developed enough to handle the influx of seasonal visitors to the ski resort, with many modern hotels, exclusive boutiques, and upscale restaurants.

Although the skiing at Megève is limited because of its low elevation, the extensive ski domain incorporates areas in the nearby towns of Combloux, Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc, Saint Nicolas de Véroce, and Les Contamines Montjoie, with the skiable terrain encompassing eight mountain peaks.

Megève is also popular in summer for outdoor activities. Things to do include hiking, white-water rafting, mountain biking, and rock climbing.


ed at the base of the magnificent Mont Blanc. Chamonix’s Vallée Blanche is known for some of the world’s best skiing and alpine hikes. The year-round destination hosted the first ever Winter Olympics.

There is no sight to put the world into perspective than the view at the top of Aiguille du Midi. From the town of Chamonix, take the cable car to the top and Step Into the Void. Literally that is what it is called. This magnificent structure is a glass box that hangs over the precipice at approximately 12,600 ft. elevation. You feel like you are suspended in the air overlooking the snowy peaks of The French, Swiss and Italian Alps.

Hint: Go on a clear day for the best viewing. At the ticket counter, there is a description of the weather at the peak. If is not clear, you are totally engulfed in clouds, which is an experience, but the best experience is a clear day.

Another Chamonix experience is the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) glacier. Take the Montenver’s railway train and view a glacier that is 4 mile long, 650 deep and is the largest glacier in France. At the Glaciorium at the Mer de Glace you can learn more about the glacier and walk through the ice cave filled with ice structures. Be like the French and stop for long relaxing lunch at Le Panoramique Mer de Glace. Try the fondue, bon appetite!

For those who want to keep their feet on the ground, the town of Chamonix is perfect for a stroll taking in the mountain vistas and alpine shops.

Annecy, the “Venice of the Alps”

Located on the shore of the Lac d’Annecy is a picturesque medieval village located between the Bornes and Bauges mountain ranges. The city has canal-lined streets along the River Thiou, the shortest river in France which gained its prominence during the Middle Ages. A hilltop castle towers over the city, former home to the Counts of Geneva, who resided here to enjoy the mountain air.

Walk the old town of Annecy and view the Palais de l’Isle, a 12th-century prison residing on an island surrounded by the clear waters of the canals.

Visit the L’Imperial Palace with its 100-year plus history of hosting guests such as Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin.

Lac d’Annecy is on the Europe’s purest lakes. There are small boat for rent which you can cruise around on the lake at your leisure or there are larger boats tours which take tourists the western shore of the lake to view the Tournette mountain, resembling the shape of an armchair.

There is a market every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday morning from 7:00 to 1:00. Tuesdays is only for food and local Savoyard products. Try the locally made saucisson or Savoyard chesses. Do not miss the Reblochon which comes from the word “re-boucher” meaning to mild for second time.

Hint: For lunch eat tartelette made with the locally make Reblochon. C’est délicieux!

On Fridays and Sundays, the market expands to include textiles and manufactured products and antiques.

Grenoble “the capitol of the Alps” 

Grenoble is home to several popular museums including the Musée de Grenoble which has an expansive collection of everything from Baroque to Renaissance to contemporary works of art.

Grenoble is crossed by two rivers, the Drac and the Isère (“the lion and the serpent”), and is surrounded by three mountain chains, the Vecors, Chartreuse and the Belledonne.

To get an incredible view of Grenoble and the surrounding area, take le téléphérique de la Bastille (the Grenoble Bastille cable car) which was the first urban cable car. The locals call it “the Bubbles” because gondolas lifts are round and has clear sides. The cable car takes you to Fort de la Bastille.

This mouthwatering specialty from this region are time squares of pasta made with wheat flour and filled with Crème Fraiche, Comté cheese and Emmental française, covered in butter-browned parsley.

To digest all these delicious foods – try Chartreuse.

Chartreuse is a green liquor made from hundreds of herbs, plants, and flowers. Produced in the Chartreuse Mountains about 25 miles from Grenoble, Chartreuse is considered the “elixir of long life”.

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