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  • High in France’s Rhone-Alpes region, the Haute-Savoie department is a world of lakes, waterfalls, caves, gorges, glaciers, nature reserves, perfect ski slopes and, of course, majestic mountains. Back in the 18th century, the English came to Haute-Savoie to admire the glaciers. Now, this beautiful natural landscape is a top destination for tourists.

    The town of Chamonix is probably one of the most popular Alpine ski resorts, having played host to the first Winter Olympics in 1924.  Nestling in a valley, it is surrounded by stunning mountains – including the famous Mont Blanc - with nine ski areas that offer some of the best skiing in Europe.

    The capital of Haute-Savoie is Annecy, an elegant, fashionable city with a friendly ambience. Annecy’s network of canals make it a truly romantic setting – think Venice plus crisp mountain air and snow-capped Alpine peaks! A 15km long lake adds to the romance and is a great setting for hiking, gliding or cycling.

    In the north of the Haute-Savoie lies Evian-les-Bains, close to Lake Geneva. Yes, this is the Evian famed for its springs, where water is bottled and sent around the world. A visit to the factory is a must as you can sample the famous water at its source. Also on the lake is the enticing medieval stone village of Thonon-Les-Bains.

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  • High in the snow covered peaks of the Rhone Alps is the Savoie - a land of wild, majestic beauty and our region of the month. For skiers, this area is a Mecca, and superlatives abound. It is home to Mont Blanc, the mother of all French mountains, contains Les Trois Vallées, one of the largest connected skiing areas in the world and features L'Espace Killy, known as the most beautiful ski centre in the world.

    There’s been plenty of snowfall recently, so the ski season will extend well into April, giving you time to book a self-catering stay at one of our traditional ski chalets and apartments. Chambery is the region’s capital and plenty of ski resorts are within a short driving distance of its airport. You can also get a low-cost flight to Lyon and drive south from there. When booking, don’t forget to ask owners for tips on travel.

    When the weather gets warmer and snow leaves the lower slopes, Savoie is also a great destination for walking, cycling and boating, for enjoying clear mountain air, breathtaking scenery and wide open spaces. If you’ve never been to the French mountains in summer, you have a treat in store. Grassy slopes and meadows with snow-topped peaks, stunning lakes that evoke a sense of deep peace, a magical landscape with views that you just want to sit and soak up.

    Our photo shows views of glaciers from Ste Foy, a charming, unspoilt ski resort that is home to Chalet and Apartment Morion.

    And all year round you can savour the local cuisine – fish and game dishes, fabulous cheeses - and discover some delicious local wines exclusive to the area. The very names make you want to try them – white wines include Altesse, Chasselas and Roussane while Savoie reds have a ring to their names of Mondeuse and Persan. Salut!

  • Bradley Wiggins’ historic Tour de France victory has inspired many of us to get on our bikes. If you’re an even half serious road cyclist, what better way to pay homage than to follow in the great man’s tracks by taking a cycling holiday in France?

    Make your base a self-catering property in one of the great cycling areas of France and you have maximum freedom and flexibility to plan your timetable and routes. In the evenings, there’s a choice of relaxing by the barbecue while you massage those weary legs, eating out locally for a change of pace and scene or falling into bed at an early hour to be ready for the next day’s fun.

  • This old monastery in the Rhone Alps is now a village after it was sold of in parts after the French revolution.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez"][/caption]   Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez, located in the Loire department of the Rhone Alps is an unusual village in that the whole village is actually an old Carthusian monastery. The monastery was founded in 1280 and prospered for 500 years until the French revolution when it was confiscated and sold off by auction in 44 lots. The above picture is copyright and courtesy of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France organisation.
  • Recently I went to Morzine-Avoriaz and had a great time! This was the first time skiing in France, we took a flight to Geneva and drove up the mountain to the resort.Recently I went to Morzine-Avoriaz and had a great time! This was the first time skiing in France, we took a flight to Geneva and drove up the mountain to the resort. Morzine is set between Geneva and Mont Blanc, the resort has wide range of slopes, snowboarding park, where you can ski for miles, we skied to Switzerland one sunny day. Morzine is more tailored for the beginner / intermediate skier whereas Avoriaz has a wide range of sweeping red and challenging black runs for the more adventurous skier and if your brave there is the wall! The great thing about Morzine is that it's a well established French town with some lovely local restaurants and some good shopping for the non skiing hours. Whereas further up the mountain to Avoriaz which is accessible by cable car that's more like a typical ski resort. Avoriaz is not as pretty as Morzine, but what Avoriaz lacks in beauty compared to Morzine is more than made up for with the buzzing apres ski.
  • While I was in the Ardèche last month, I set out on a mission to find the actual location of the remarkable Chauvet Cave, with its 36,000 year old paintings. I wanted to know how it felt to be in the very spot where our Ice Age ancestors created remarkable art with such inspired creativity, to feel what was special about this place.

    The Ardèche department is part of the Rhone-Alpes region and lies in south east France, roughly between the cities of Lyon to the north and Avignon to the south. Its own capital is Privas, a market town set amidst dramatic scenery of hills, forests, farms, vineyards and rivers that really typify the whole, sparsely populated area.

  • Our October featured region is the Drôme in the gloriously scenic Rhône-Alps just north of Provence. Many visitors prefer the southern  Drôme to Provence, enjoying its laid back atmosphere, pretty villages, mountain scenery and sense of history, and it’s in the south that most of our holiday lets can be found.

    This is a land of rivers - the Drôme, Aigues and Rhône all run through the department. They make for some breathtaking scenery and every view is enhanced by the dramatic backdrop of the Alps, ever changing with the seasons. There’s plenty of potential here for year-round holidays when you can enjoy sightseeing, exploring history and countryside, hiking, cycling, golf and gastronomy, as well as a growing interest in ecotourism and organic food.

    Among the top ten places to discover are the town of Montélimar, capital of nougat, where you can visit nougat factories, enjoy a coffee in the “Allées Provençales” and see the contemporary art museum. Nyons is famous for its olive groves, Mirmande for being home to potters and a fortified village of exceptional beauty, the whole Drôme area is celebrated for its castles and there’s even a crocodile farm with 350 of the toothy reptiles and, last but not least, a shoe museum to visit.

    Drôme wines are of a high quality, including the sparkling Die wine, and lovers of good food will want to indulge in a visit to Pic in Valence, run by Anne-Sophie Pic, the only woman in France to have won three Michelin stars in recent times. Simple yet charming Bistrots de Pays offer hearty food at excellent value all over the region.

    The nearest airport is Grenoble, which has budget flights during both winter and summer, and Lyons-St Exupery is also accessible. The TGV train from Paris to Valence takes just over 2 hours and by road it’s around 580 km from Paris.

    Our holiday lets in the Drôme range from mountain chalet apartments to charming country gîtes and gorgeous period houses and villas with pools. In the colour-washed village of Saillans, for instance, you’ll find both La Source,a villa for 10 people, and La Maison Rose, a period property that sleeps 12. Both have loads of character, their own swimming pool and stunning views across to woodland and the Alps and both are close to all the shops and Sunday market of this pretty village shown in the photo.

    Browse our guide to Drômeand find more places to stay

  • We know that regular visitors to France love to discover new regions off the main tourist routes and our region of the month for October is a real gem. The Drôme (department number 26) is named for its river and located in the Rhône-Alpes, just north of Provence. In fact, the southern Drôme Provencal enjoys a Mediterranean micro climate and is abundant with olives, apricots, aromatic herbs and lavender fields stretching right to the foot of the mountains.

  • It’s time for ski holidays and France’s Savoie region is a brilliant destination to get your thrills on the slopes. We’ve chosen Savoie in the Rhone Alps as our region for January because it is easily accessible and boasts miles of ski and snowboarding slopes, glorious scenery, friendly villages with cosy chalets and apartments, great apres-ski, fabulous food and wines exclusive to the area.

    The Savoie is home to Mont Blanc, the most famous of all French mountains. It also contains the massive and beautiful ski areas of Les Trois Vallées and L'Espace Killy. Both offer world class winter sports and facilities.

    Chambery is the region’s capital and plenty of ski resorts are within a short driving distance of its airport. You can also get a low-cost flight to Lyon and drive south from there. Savoie is about nine hours’ drive from the ferry ports or tunnel or you can opt to take a ski train. When booking, don’t forget to ask owners for tips on travel.

    Once you arrive, there’s the thrill of the ski lift, the winter sun on your face, the brilliance of all that snow and the exhilaration of flying through crisp mountain air. Even when your landing is less elegant than you hoped, you can take comfort in a rich hot chocolate by a blazing fire, a hot shower and later the amazing tastes of the Savoyard cuisine, especially cheeses, and local wines.

    When the weather gets warmer and snow leaves the lower slopes, Savoie is also a great destination for clear mountain air, breathtaking scenery, outdoor activities and wide open spaces. We highly recommend discovering the French mountains in summer.

    We have a great range of self-catering accommodation in the area, for couples, families and larger groups. Chalets and apartments are located in both popular resorts and traditional villages with a typically French mountain flavour. See more in our guide to the Savoie and our guide to the Rhone-Alps.

  •  As a ski holiday location, France’s Savoie region really has got it all. This is a land of wild, majestic beauty dominated by the snow covered peaks of the Rhone Alps - especially Mont Blanc, the mother of all French mountains. Easy accessibility, miles of ski and snowboarding slopes, glorious scenery, friendly villages with cosy chalets and apartments, great apres-ski, fabulous food and wines exclusive to the area. No wonder the Savoie is our featured area of France this month.

    My first introduction to skiing was when my neighbour tried to teach me knee bends and leans in her spacious living room, using broom sticks as props. It was nothing like as much fun as being shown the moves by a handsome French ski instructor with a voice just like Yves Montand. Then there’s the thrill of the ski lift, the winter sun on your face, the brilliance of all that snow and the exhilaration of flying through crisp mountain air.

    Even when your landing is less elegant than you hoped, there’s the compensation of a rich hot chocolate by a blazing fire, a hot shower and later the amazing tastes of the Savoyard cuisine. Personally I’ll pass on the fricassee of frogs legs with garlic, onions and vinegar, but give me perch poached in red wine or just about any local game dish followed by a taste of the region’s delicious cheeses. Washed down, of course, with a soupcon of mountain wine... Generally unobtainable outside the  Savoie, the local wines are becoming more sophisticated as growers concentrate on raising their production from jolly nice plonk to high quality vintages.

    There is a terrific range of ski accommodation in the area, from popular resorts to traditional villages. Our photo shows Le Hameau des Airelles, a chalet holiday rental at St Martin de Belleville.

    Savoie is about nine hours drive from the ferry ports or tunnelor you can grab a low-cost flight.

    See more in our guide to the Savoie and our guide to the Rhone-Alps.