Donned the "crossroads of Europe," this southeastern region of France is famous for its wondrous winterscapes and majestic vernal beauty. With borders touching Switzerland and Italy and the dramatic Alps rising out of the deep canyons of the Rhone and Saone valleys, the Rhone-Alpes province is truly spectacular. The eclectic villages that occupy the crevices of the rugged mountain terrain offer a taste of culture unlike any other, but this is no isolated place; Rhone-Alpes is home to France's second-largest city and is the sixth-largest economic region in all of Europe.
Some of the must-see sights, activities, and attractions in the Rhone-Alpes region include:
-Lyon: This regional capital is the second-largest city in France and boasts outstanding restaurants featuring local and international cuisine, world-class art galleries and museums, and a unique European charm that is both old-world and cutting-edge.
-Mont Blanc: Standing over 16,000 feet tall, Mont Blanc is the region's best-known mountain and one of the tallest peaks in the world. If you're not adventurous enough for mountaineering, you'll at least have some spectacular photo opportunities.
-Lake Paladru: A glacial lake, Lake Paladru makes for the ideal place to spend a quiet day paddling on the water.
-Winter sports: With alpine peaks like this, it's easy to see why the region has attracted the Winter Olympic Games three times in its history.
-Gastronomic delights: The Rhone-Alpes region is known as a center for food and drink, and the area is particularly famous for its sausage, Bresse poultry and many varieties of cheese. The wine-producing region of Burgundy also abuts Rhone-Alpes, so there's no shortage of famous French wine.
If you visit in December, be sure to experience the Fete des Lumieres or "Festival of Lights." While fireworks dance across the crisp winter sky and the frost tickles your toes, warm up with a cup of hot regional wine, sure to warm you to the core.
A vacation rental is the ideal accommodation for your Alps holiday. Whether it's a stylish apartment in cosmopolitan Lyon or a quiet cabin in the mountains, there are plenty of options available no matter your tastes or budget.
If you want to explore further, cross the eastern border into Switzerland or Italy to take in more of the Alps. Both nations are easily accessible by train or air from Lyon.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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