French Alps Travel Guide

The breathtaking French Alps are a playground for winter sports enthusiasts and hikers and, apart from the world-renowned ski resorts, there are charming medieval villages, beautiful lakes and ancient cities such as Grenoble to be explored.

First and foremost, any mention of the French Alps summons images of idyllic skiing and snowboarding on some of the best and most extensive slopes in Europe. There is an amazing variety of resorts to choose from. Young resorts such as Flaine (purpose-built, modern and extremely user-friendly, with access to all the wonders of the famous 'Le Grand Massif' ski area) will impress seasoned skiers. Lesser-known gems such as the small Samoëns, a picturesque medieval village and the only French resort to be designated an historical monument, will delight those who demand culture as well as sport.

The French Alps are also popular in the summer months when sailing and hiking become the activities of choice. Visitors flock to the beautifully situated lake-side and mountain villages of the region for picnics, walks and some historical sightseeing among the natural splendour.

Best time to visit the French Alps

The French Alps get a lot of sun during the year and the most popular time to visit for hikers and climbers is between July and September, when the weather is warm and predictable and the high snows have melted. The ski season runs from late November to April and the slopes are busiest over the Christmas and Easter holidays.

What to see in the French Alps

-Sightsee in the picturesque old town of Briançon, the highest town in France.

-Visit the beautiful Parc Naturel Regional du Vercors.

-Go museum-hopping in Grenoble, the 'Capital of the Alps'.

-Share a kiss on the Lovers' Bridge in Annecy.

What to do in the French Alps

-Take a cruise on Lac du Bourget, the largest natural freshwater lake in France.

-Enjoy the spa facilities at Evian-les-Bains.

-Hike up La Tournette mountain, near Annecy, for glorious views.

-Hit the ski slopes of Chamonix or the Trois Vallées ski area.

Getting there

EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, located on the border of Switzerland, France and Germany, is one of the best airports servicing the French Alps region. The airport is under four miles (6km) northwest of Basel, Switzerland, and 14 miles (22km) southeast of Mulhouse France, and there is a regular bus service to numerous French villages and resorts. Chambéry-Savoie Airport, located six miles (about 10km) north of Chambéry, is another option. Alpes-Isere Airport, located 28 miles (45km) from Grenoble, is a small but very popular airport.

Did you know?

-The highest peak in the Alps is Mont Blanc, which stands at 15,771 feet (4,807m), making it the highest peak in Western Europe.

-Snow rests permanently on the French Alps above the altitude of 9,186 feet (2,800m).

-Grenoble is the biggest city in the Alps, with about 500,000 inhabitants.