A roundup of the 20 Best Places to Visit in the French Alps in 2023!
With France being on many people’s bucket lists, I wanted to help break down the main towns, cities and areas that make up the French Alps to help you plan your holiday better.
Table of Contents
1. Annecy | Scenic Lakeside Town
Annecy is the largest city in the Haute-Savoie region of France. It’s nicknamed “Pearl of French Alps”, and we have to agree. Annecy is a gorgeous lakeside city with breathtaking views and a charming old town. You will see snowcapped mountains in the distance as you drive in, giving it the perfect fairy tale appearance. The medieval township of Annecy (Le Vieil Annecy) is situated on the North Side of Annecy Lake. It was established in the 14th century, and as such, there are plenty of old buildings and twisting laneways.
You could be forgiven for thinking this is the Venice of the Alps, with the canals of Thiou River winding through the old town. It’s very picturesque. Beautiful white swans glide through the canals and into the lake, and in summer there are bursts of colour at every turn. Pots of geraniums are kept in windowsills and at entranceways, it adds a lovely ambience.
Dining in Annecy
Restaurants and cafes dot the sidewalks, my favourite place to sit with a glass of rose and people watch is Le Lilas Rose. Try to get a table outside if the weather permits. They also serve plenty of local French food and have a great Menu Del Dia.
If you are looking for traditional Savoyard cuisine, I suggest Le Chalet in the old town of Annecy. The Tartiflette there is fantastic!
When French food gets too much, there are also other options in the old town. Little Italy is great for pasta and all things Italian Food, while Casa Santa Clara provides tasty Spanish tapas.
Things to do in Annecy
Along Avenue, d’Albigny is a bike path that is shaded with trees and allows for a complete circumnavigation around the entire Annecy lake. You can hire a bike and ride the entire 40kms distance, or take a leisurely ride part of the way and turn back. It’s a beautiful ride and is mostly flat.
The top tourist attraction in the old town is the twelfth century Palais de l’Isle, on an islet in the Canal du Thiou. The structure was initially a jail and later utilized as the Palace of Justice. Today the Palais de l’Isle shows an assortment of displays of the region’s history and architecture.
Families and friends spend a lot of time at the lakeside in the area called Jardins De L’Europe. You can hire small boats and travel around Lake Annecy, or you can sunbathe and relax. There are small food carts in the area too for light refreshments and coffee.
Inside the old town, a particularly awesome spot to meander is along the Rue Sainte-Claire. This particular road highlights sixteenth to eighteenth-century structures that presently house many shops and eateries.
Annecy has two historic churches, the 15th-century Church of Saint-Maurice and the 16th-century Cathedral of Saint-Pierre. Entry is free but check first that there are no events being held at the time.
If you are looking for something a bit further out, the Château d’Annecy is popular. which dates back to the 13th century and was once the residence of the Counts of Geneva. Today, the château is a museum devoted to local history, medieval sculpture, landscape paintings, and contemporary art. It costs €5 to get in and has mixed reviews from travellers.
2. Chamonix | French Alpine Ski Resort
At the foot of Mont Blac, the biggest mountain in the Alps lies the village of Chamonix. Chamonix has been a favourite for generations of travellers seeking snow and summer activities. The lush green slopes in summer are popular for bikers and hikers, while the towering peaks provide ample rock climbing and Via Ferrata options for other summer travellers.
Chamonix is the home of an internationally renowned ski resort offering some of the best skiing in Europe. There is 23 kilometres of resort skiing along with the Vallée de Chamonix between Les Houches and Argentière.
The best resuarants in Chamonix
Dining in Chamonix gives you a large array of cuisines and styles of food. French food and especially alpine favourites such as Tartiflette and Fondue can be found in local restaurants all over the town. But there are also several fine dining options if you are interested in degustation menus and fine wines. Chamonix boasts 3 one-star Michelin Restaurants and 5 Bib Gourmand restaurants.
Book early, if you wish to dine at Petite Royal, Albert 1er or Le Serac the most popular fine dining restaurants in Chamonix. Expect to spend around €200per person for a meal and inform the staff before arriving if it is a special occasion.
For casual dining, I recommend Le Monchu for fondue and Poco Loco for their monstrous burgers. Perfect after a day on the slopes!
Things to do in Chamonix
One of the most popular activities to do in Chamonix is visiting the Aiguille du Midi peak (at 3,842 meters high) with unique perspectives on Mont Blanc and the Glacier des Bossons. From the focal point of Chamonix, the Aiguille du Midi is open by a 20-minute trolley ride over high-mountain woodlands.
Another great way to appreciate unimaginable vistas is on the Panoramic Mont-Blanc gondola. This invigorating, tourist detour crosses above ice falls and chasms, with a vantage focussing towards Pointe Helbronner in Italy.
The Chamonix golf club is a popular summer retreat and provides stunning mountain views as you tee off.
If you are in Chamonix to party, there are plenty of options. The most famous bar is La Folie Deuce where the rich and beautiful pop bottles of champagne and dine on oysters and caviar. It’s a really fun place if you are with a group of friends.
3. Courchevel 1850 | High End Chalets and Restaurants
The playground of the uber-wealthy, Courchevel is synonymous with gorgeous high-end chalets, Michelin restaurants, Louis Vuitton and very expensive champagne. Celebrity spotting is a fun pastime in Courchevel 1850, with many famous people visiting during the ski season for lavish parties and “to be seen”. For many, this is one of the best places to visit in the French Alps.
It is renowned for having one of the longest ski seasons and the best snow cover in the whole of the Alps. It is also home to the world’s largest ski area – Courchevel sits within the Three Valleys, which boasts 600km of pistes and an interlinked lift system, with over 170 lifts.
Restaurants in Courchevel 1850
Of course, you wouldn’t come to Courchevel without booking a Michelin star restaurant or two.
There is 1 three-star Michelin restaurant in Courchevel 1850: Le 1947 Cheval Blanc and a handful of other fine dining options. I like Koori, a high-end Asian fusion restaurant it doesn’t have a Michelin star, but it is recognised in their latest guide.
Cheap eats are possible in the centre of town. Try Ineos Club House or The Burger Factory.
Things to do in Courchevel 1850
Generally, people visit Courchevel to be seen, so dining out is one of the bigger draw cards.
If the weather isn’t looking so great, the bowling alley in the centre of town gets popular.
Courchevel has operational lifts in both Summer and Winter, so the usual alpines sports are possible: Mountainbiking, canoeing, rock climbing and hiking and of course, the many snow sports. You can hire electric snow scooters to race or take around the mountain for a different experience. There is also a whole host of other snow friendly activities across the Three Valleys. Some of these include Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledging, ski touring, tobogganing, Nordic walking and ice skating.
4. Saint-Gervais-Mont- Blanc | Thermal Park Village
The town of Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc is located in the Haute-Savoie region of the French Alps. It has been a popular holiday destination since the early 1900s, and I can see why! The picturesque village sits nestled in the mountains and is easily accessible from Chamonix and Annecy.
It is a popular destination in both summer and winter and appeals to a wide variety of people. I would suggest booking your accommodation early here because options get very limited during peak travel seasons.
Where to eat in Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc
There are many great little cafes and restaurants around the village of Saint Gervais. Some of my favourite casual dining spots include 4 Epices restaurant crêperie for delicious crepes and coffee and the Boulangerie d’Antan Jérôme Lesève for fresh bread and pastries.
If you are looking for fine dining options Le Sérac is perfect. It is nestled between the church and the Town Hall and boasts a bright dining room set in contemporary decor overlooking the Mont-Blanc range. The menu is contemporary French cuisine and they are featured with 1 star in the recent Michelin guide.
Activites in Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc
In winter Saint-Gervais is part of the Evasion Mont-Blanc ski area, with more than 400 kilometres of tree-lined ski slopes and breathtaking panoramic views. All of the usual snow sports are available to do in Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc resort areas but there are some additional fun things to mention too. If you are a daredevil, you may enjoy bungee jumping, or paragliding, both of which can be done in from Saint- Gervais.
The Thermal Park has been operating since 1807 and is naturally hot, rich in minerals and trace elements, it is recognized by the national academy of medicine. You can spend the day here in the relaxing hot pools, or have additional treatments done by onsite practitioners. It was very recently renovated and looks amazing!
One of the most popular activities to do in Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc is The Mont-Blanc tramway. This is one of the last remaining cog railways which carries skiers and hikers up the highest railway track in France. The views are stunning, do not forget your camera!
5. Val d’Isère | Picturesque French Alpine Village
Val d’Isère looks a lot like a film set when you first drive-in. Its perfectly curated chalets are especially aesthetically pleasing after a light dusting of snow. The village is small and walkable which makes it perfect for family holidays, it has all of the charms of a typical Savoyard village.
Val d’Isère is also a true paradise for beginners and lower level skiers. From the village itself, you can walk straight onto the piste into an area with four free lifts and gentle slopes to safely start skiing. Val d’Isère is also known for its off-piste slopes. And boasts some of the worlds best lift-accessed off-piste and has many independent instructors and guides who specialise in off-piste tuition and guiding.
The far-reaching Tignes/Val d’Isère Ski Resort is situated in the Tarentaise Mountains at a height of between 1,550 meters and 3,500 meters.
Restaurants in Val d’Isère
There are a few small restaurants and bars lining the slopes on the edge of the village. They all offer similar food and drinks. It’s a great area to pull up a seat outside and watch the skiers go past- make sure you order a mulled wine to keep your hands warm!
Val d’Isère has plenty of casual dining restaurants within walking distance of the ski resort. Croque Monsieur and Pizza are popular choices. And the menu of the day is always a good deal. I love La Grande Ourse for its courtyard dining and great views and Cocorico Apres Skiing for its unique location.
There is a 1 star Michelin restaurant if you are after fine dining. La Table de I’Ours is in the centre of Val d’Isère. If you are wanting something with a more interesting location, I’d suggest Le Panoramic which is situated up the mountain. You will need to use the chair lifts to get there, but the view is worth it.
The best activities to do in Val d’Isère
There are a host of activities to do in Val d’Isère during both the summer and winter months.
During late spring, Val d’Isère draws in numerous travellers with its lively mountain view and open-air exercises, for example, climbing, horseback riding, mountain trekking, and hiking. It’s likewise a great region for comfortable nature strolls to see wildflowers and birdlife.
Of course in winter, everyone comes to Val d’Isère to ski! With its lovely village atmosphere and charming way of life, it is a perfect winter destination. The Ski Schools in Val d’Isère are fantastic and many people get ski lessons while they are here.
6. The Chartreuse Mountains | Monks and Mountains
This is the perfect spot to visit in France during Summer. In fact, during winter it is a ski field, and inaccessible by car. It’s a short day trip out from Grenoble and there are tour companies who provide guided day trips in the region, or you can easily self-drive.
There are limited dining choices once you are up in the mountain area. Restaurant la Pierre Chaude and OREADE Balnéo Restaurant are really popular for day trippers coming from Grenoble.
Activities in the Chartreuse Mountain area
Everyone who visits the Chartreuse Mountains wants to spend some time wandering the grounds of the Monastery of the Grande Chartreuse. Its beautifully preserved architecture and gardens are worth the effort to visit. It is a 4-hour hike, or you can take a public bus.
A visit to the Museum of la Grande Chartreuse is one of the most popular day trip in the Chartreuse Mountains. It is a unique site that is just 2 km from the famous monastery founded by Saint Bruno in 1084. The present museum, located in the ancient annexe of Chartreux Monastery, provides visitors with a wealth of insight into the monk’s human and spiritual adventure. It is only open from April till November, and on special days, so you should check opening hours before your visit.
There are hiking trails all over the Chartreuse Mountains, you could easily spend a week in the region hiking each day. The Pump Track de Saint Pierre de Chartreuse (by Gilson) is popular for mountainbikers. It is a moderately technical pump track, fairly short bumps, fun to ride for all levels.
7. Aix-Les-Bains | Lakeside Roman Ruins
Aix-Les-Bains is a gorgeous lakeside town next to the largest freshwater lake in France, Lac du Bourget. It’s an easy drive over from Chambery if you were to take a long weekend escape or a detour on a longer French road trip.
The town’s natural hot springs have been used for remedial purposes since Roman times. The ruins of Roman baths, the Arch of Campanus and the Temple of Diana, are open to the public. Because the hot springs are open to the public, it is often one of the main reasons tourists visit. Aix-les-Bains is an internationally renowned spa town. Roman settlers since the 1st century visited for the bath, and there are some fascinating clues about their presence around the resort today. History buffs will be delighted!
Restaurants in Aix-Les-Bains
This little spa town has a couple of Michelin Star restaurants if you are looking for something special. Le 59 Restaurant and L’Estrade both have been mentioned in this year’s Michelin guide. And offer reasonably priced fine dining options.
I think the Brasserie de l’aquarium and Restaurant LA PLAGE is the best for their outdoor dining options with sweeping patios and plenty of fresh air.
There are several other notable restaurants in Aix-Les-Bains, Restaurant Le Rouet which serves delicious Savoyard cuisines and Le San Fermin with its picturesque dining.
Interestingly, Aix-Les-Bains is host to plenty of foreign restaurants. There are several Indian curry houses, sushi restaurants and kebab shops. This makes for a welcome change if you have been eating French food in the Alps for a while.
Activites you must do while in Aix-Les-Bains
Visit the Musee Faure: The museum proposes a good collection of impressionist paintings and also some Rodin sculptures on the third floor. The artworks were donated by a wealthy businessman and the museum was set up in his honour. It’s nicely laid out over three floors with new artworks being showcased on the first floor. It’s defiantly worth spending an hour or so wandering around.
The Via Ferrata in Aix-Les-Bains is a great summer activity if you like rock climbing. It has a breathtaking view of Aix Les Bains. While it is not a very difficult course, it should be noted that there is a 70 m drop below your feet. Course well secured and not monotonous. Expect to walk around 30 min to get to the start of the Via Ferrata.
Aqualac is a favourite spot for families as it is a large swimming pool complex. There are heated pools in the winter and swimming pools for kids of all ages. Aqualac has waterslides and an outdoor pool. There is also a picnic spot, trampolines and 2 playpark areas.
If you are looking for a day spa vibe, the modern facilities at the Hôtel Marina Adelphia include a wellness centre with therapeutic baths and an upscale spa with a sauna and Jacuzzi.
8. Grenoble | A City of Science and History
Often called the Capital of the Alps, Grenoble is the largest city in the region and it is steeped in history. Grenoble’s history goes back over 2000 years and the city has grown to be one of Europe’s most important research, technology and innovation centres. You can still see remnants of the Roman walls, while also seeing the huge technological advancements being made in this major scientific centre.
It is a cutting edge city yet additionally with a rich verifiable legacy. Walk around the city’s historically significant area to find Grenoble’s legacy with Place Saint-André or the fountains on Place Grenette.
At an elevation of 475m, the Bastille stronghold rules and offers a superb all-encompassing perspective on the city of Grenoble and the Isère valley.
Savoy wine is grown near Grenoble, and a day trip out to the various chateaus is always a good idea. The AOC of Savoy has unique wine varieties such as ripaille, marin, marignan, or montmélian.
The best Grenoble restaurants
For dining, Grenoble has Maison Aribert a 2 star Michelin restaurant. There is also a handful of other noted Michelin restaurants in the most recent guide, including some bib gourmands.
I absolutely have to recommend Kai iwi Café a New Zealander owned cafe offering amazing breakfasts and good coffee among other things. Ka Pai!
Chez Le Pèr’gras has perhaps the most beautiful view of the city. It is a fine dining restaurant that is perched above the city by the Bastille. be sure to book ahead to get a good table outside.
The city has many foreign restaurants and bars, so you will be able to satisfy almost any food craving you may have.
Popular activities in Grenoble
Travel on the “Grenoble-Bastille cable car“, a transparent egg-shaped cable car, known to locals as “Les Bulles” (the bubbles). You will have an excellent view of the Isère river. At the top are two restaurants and the Bastille Art Centre. Where you can see contemporary art exhibitions.
The Musée de Grenoble is one of France’s most significant expressive arts exhibition halls. The assortment incorporates compositions by extraordinary experts, including Rubens, George de La Tour, and Philippe de Champaigne, as well as nineteenth-century craftsmen like Delacroix and Monet. Current workmanship is addressed with works by Picasso, Matisse, and Léger, among others.
Book a day trip out to the Savoyard wineries, or self-drive. You can tour the vineyards of the Abymes and Apremont, at the foothills of Mont Granier and stop at the church Our Lady of Myans. There is also wine tasting in the city with a self-service wine bar. It’s called Chez Le Per’gras and is a fun and economical way to try various french wines.
9. Évian- Les- Bains | Lakeside Retreat
Settled in the green mountain fields of the French Alps, the town of Évian-Les-Bains is encircled by a beautiful landscape, on the south side of Lake Geneva with its perfectly clear blue waters.
Évian-Les-Bains is a famous wellness resort town and has a rich history that traces all the way back to the middle ages. You can see this evidenced in the cute laneways in the old town even today.
A day trip here from Geneva or Lausanne is very popular, and the town is accessible by boat on Lake Geneva. Évian-Les-Bains offers a good mix of stunning natural beauty, Belle Epoque glamour and history, sport and delicious food and wine from the Haute-Savoie, making for a fun and easy getaway for either romance, groups or families.
And yes, this is the home to Evian, the bottled water company.
Restaurants in Évian-les-Bains
Make sure you order a serving of local fried breaded fish, it’s the speciality of the town, served with a slice or two of lemon and a dipping sauce. Delicious!
Au Jardin d’Eden is a popular French restaurant in the old town, along with Restaurant Le Muratore “Bistrot Culinaire” both offer a local menu with Savoyard cuisines and a menu of the day.
Strolling around the town will allow you to find your own hidden gems.
Activities and things to do in Évian-les-Bains
Most people visit Évian-Les-Bains to relax and unwind. The bigger hotels have day spas within them complete with therapeutic massages and saunas.
Being on the side of Lake Geneva means water sports are common. You can hire a boat for the day to explore or go fishing with locals.
10. Bourg St Maurice | A hub city for the French Alps
The often-overlooked town of Bourg-St-Maurice also happens to be one of my favourites. It doesn’t have the same ski-in ski-out vibe that other alpine villages have, but it does offer a few extra unique points that make it a destination in itself. For one, it is easily accessible by TGV from Paris, London or anywhere in between. It also offers Airbnb properties which allow you to have budget ski holidays easily, as you can self cater. I like that Bourg-St-Maurice does have some chalets in town, and if you want to stay in the township, everything is within walking distance and well priced.
The funicular starts near the centre of town and can take you all the way up to Les Arc 1600 for €5. Much easier than getting a bus or self-driving each day, although you can if you wanted to. It’s such an underrated destination in the French Alps, but I think for a budget-conscious traveller, it’s the perfect place for a winter ski holiday.
It should be noted that Bourg-St-Maurice is the stepping off point for many travellers visiting the Les Arcs resort.
The best restaurants in Bourg-St-Maurice
Local Savoie dishes are available at almost every restaurant in town. I like to eat at La Refuge or le chalupot in the main town. They both offer fantastic menus of the day while also being true to the Alpine cuisine.
There is a row of great restaurants by the roundabout that is perfect for outdoor dining on the patio. I like Le Tonneau and Snack Ski Roc. Just across the street is another great cafe, that has the best coffee in town- Pause Coffee.
There are no fine dining options in Bourg-St-Maurice, but I like it that way! Everything is accessible here, and not at all pretentious. The food that is served is good quality because the town survives on locals who live there, now tourists who only stop for a week and leave.
The top activities to do in Bourg-St-Maurice
There are plenty of activities that you can do around Bourg-St-Maurice. The township itself is cute to stroll through and be sure to check out the market in town on Sunday mornings. There is also a popular Co-op for Beaufort Cheese and other local foods in the town near the train station. Expect to queue for at least half an hour on Saturdays as holidaymakers get ready to leave.
Take the Funicular up to Les Arcs and buy a ski pass. The ski area consists of 106 runs, 54 lifts, and 200 kilometres of descent. Generally, Les Arcs is a good ski area for beginners. There are plenty of wide, high-altitude blue runs to progress to, giving a real sense of exhilaration. Arc 1800 has the best of the area’s dedicated beginner’s skiing, with its new development at Mille8 having a special peaceful zone for beginners.
Mountainbiking around Bourg-St-Maurice is very popular in summer. There are several companies that offer bike hire and guides if you need them. If you prefer to organise yourself, there are currently 22 marked VTT trails in operation that are detailed on the summer piste map.
11. Tignes | Glaciar Skiing
Tignes comprises 5 Villages; Tignes Val Claret, Tignes le Lac, Le Lavachet, Tignes Les Boisses and Tignes-les-Brévières. Most tourists opt to stay at Tignes Le Lac which is situated by the lake and has plenty going on. It is the main town and everything is really accessible. Others stay at Val Claret which also offers plenty of restaurants. It’s also where the funicular to the Glacier leaves from.
Tignes is both a summer and winter destination, with many people using it as a base for altitude training for summer sports. It’s also home to the second-highest golf course in Europe.
Come winter, Tignes really comes alive. Together with neighbouring Val d’Isère, it forms the “Espace Killy” ski area. The proximity of two resorts offers one of the most seamless links between ski areas in Europe, in effect creating a single skiable area of over 300 km piste. The terrain of the valley lends itself to more challenging skiing, with advanced skiers often opting for the resort as their preferred ski area. In saying there, there have been improvements to create additional beginner runs.
The best restaurants in Tignes
Tignes has an array of restaurants catering to all budgets and diets. I particularly like Tignes Cusine, a low key outdoor restaurant with Thai curry and Noodle soup on the menu.
There are a few fine dining restaurants in town, including Le Kaya which has an Asian fusion menu. Val Clart has a one Michelin star restaurant with Ursus. The degustation menu starts at €98 and covers an array of Savoyard dishes that represent the trees and the area surrounding Tignes. Like many of these alpine fine dining restaurants, they are only open during the winter season.
Activities you much do while in Tignes
A visit to the Grande Motte Glacier in Tignes is possible almost all year round. Take the funicular up to The Panoramic restaurant, and enjoy the sights. From there, there is a cable car that takes you up to 3453m. From here, you can see many other places to visit in the French Alps in the distance.
Yes, you can ski in Summer in the French Alps! From mid-June to the end of July, the Motte Glacier is open for summer skiing. You can also do glacier hikes and guided glacier climbs.
Within the resort area, you can hire sleds, ski equipment and even snow tubing. When the lake has frozen over, there is a path to walk across, and igloos for kids to play in. The town puts on a few small events at various times too including musicians and free mulled wine or hot chocolate.
Tignespace is one of the region’s biggest indoor sports complexes. There is a rock climbing wall, trampolines, a skate park, Squash courts, tennis courts and a gym among other things. It’s open year-round.
12. Conflans, Albertville | Medieval Village
The medieval city of Conflans offers the charm of a medieval hamlet. You can discover its narrow streets, old shops, gardens, and baroque churches easily in a few hours. It overlooks the city of Albertville and is easy to visit by self-driving. While the town is open year-round, I found that 90% of the shops and restaurants were closed when visited in Winter, I would suggest coming here in Summer for a better experience. Enjoy incredible views of the Savoie valley, with the Chartreuse mountains further in the distance.
Restaurants in Conflans
Dining options are limited in Conflans. There are several small cafes (and an Irish pub, because, why not!) situated in a small courtyard in the middle of town. If you don’t find anything open there (like I experienced!) head into Albertville for a bite to eat.
Albertville has a wide variety of restaurants including Buffalo Grill for cheap American diner-style food and all of the other fast food outlets such as Mc Donalds and Burger King. I only note this because after a while of eating French food, sometimes, you crave fast food, and Albertville is where you can get that fix.
The best activities to do in Albertville and Conflans
Visiting Conflans is the number one activity in Albertville!
Albertville itself is more of a working city. It does not have tourist attractions itself but is a good resting stop if you have been on a long road trip across France or something similar. It can almost make for an interesting base for exploring this region of the French Alps if you don’t mind the daily drive to each ski field.
An hour away from Albertville is several large ski resorts. La Clusaz is about 45 kilometres away, the ski area encompasses five interlinked mountain peaks, with 85 ski slopes covering 125 kilometres of groomed trails. You also have access to La Plagne and Les 3 Vallées ski resorts around a one hour drive away.
To check when the ski fields are open, click here.
13. Route Napoléon | Epic French Roadtrip
This popular road trip in France is a nod to Napoleon’s journey in 1815. The route is marked all the way along with commemorative plaques and monuments. Route Napoléon runs from south to north through these towns:
- Col Bayard (1,246 m)
- La Mure
The 325 km (200 mi) stretch of modern road winds through the spectacular mountains of Provence, in France, up to Grenoble. Allow yourself a couple of days for the journey if you want to make a longer road trip of it. One of the best places to visit is Corps, a pretty historic town in the Vallée des Drac. And if you have time, make a detour to the Church of Notre-Dame de la Salette. It sits at an altitude of 1,170 meters amid stunning Alpine scenery. It’s easy to see why so many people make this road tip every year and consider it Places to Visit in the French Alps.
Restraurants along the Route Napoléon
I would recommend stopping for at least a day in the Gorge Verdon region, Which has plenty of hotel options and please to eat such as Nature Cafe and Le Voute.
There is one fine dining option on the route, in Gap, called La Serafine. But there are plenty around the Antibes region if you wanted to go on a Michelin bender!
The best activites on the Route Napoléon
Stop At gorge Verdon and do some kayaking, white water rafting or canoeing. There are loads of tour agents in town who can help you book, and many of them offer the same packages. You can also bungee jump or do a Via Ferrata.
14. Châtel | A Ski resort next to Switzerland
Nestled into the Swiss border, and just down from the town of Evian-Les-Bains, is Châtel. A picturesque village in France’s Haute-Savoie region and a base for the Portes du Soleil ski area. A cable car runs from the centre to the Super-Châtel piste, which has panoramic mountain views, and summer hiking and biking trails.
Where to eat in Châtel
Châtel has a number of fantastic restaurants to eat at. The town’s layout allows many restaurants to have big expansive outdoor dining options, which makes for a change from some of the other resorts in the French Alps. Mountain Restaurant Le Fantaski and Mountain Restaurant Les Portes Du Soleil are the most notable. In town, La Poya, La Table Savoyard and La Fiacre are firm favourites.
Things to do in Châtel
Visit La Vielle Douane Museum and an amusing museum about the region’s history with smuggling salt. It’s great to amuse small children when the weather is bad. There is also a little tourist train that drives through town to keep the little ones amused.
The aquatic centre is a well-rated and popular activity in Châtel. They have a full therapeutic spa area including Hammans, saunas, jacuzzies, and massage jets. They also have an outdoor pool that is heated to 32 degrees- yes, even in winter!
If you have a bit of a daredevil attitude, you might like to try the zipline in Châtel. While it is only a short ride (around two minutes from the top to the bottom) flying down the mountain is an extraordinary experience.
Nearby Lake Vonnes offers trout fishing between May and September each year.
15. Little St Bernard’s Pass | Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard
This scenic route connects France with Italy and is not to be confused with the other end of the pass that crosses from Italy to Switzerland. This pass is only open in the summer months (May- October), and it will be signposted from Bourg-St-Maurice and Seez if it is closed due to weather.
The drive is spectacular and best done yourself by car.
The more adventurous travellers might enjoy a road cycle, but an excellent level of fitness is required. Interestingly, the Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard is also often used as a stage in the Tour De France. Most recently in 2009.
Restaurants at the St Bernards Pass
At the top, you can stop at the Bar Ristorante San Bernardo, it is open year-round, and services the vehicle traffic in summer, and in winter it becomes a ski-in restaurant. Expect to pay a little more for the location, but the food is good and the beers are cold.
On the way down to the Italian side, there are plenty more restaurant options, mostly offering fresh-made pizza and delicious Italian dishes in La Thuille.
The best activities to do at Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard
There aren’t any organised activities in the area, but it is a great place to stop, stretch your legs and have a coffee. You can park your car and hike a little in the surrounding mountains if you like. Be wary of the changeable weather up here, even in summer.
In winter Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard is part of the Italian La Thuile ski resort.
16. La Plagne | The largest ski resort in Europe
La Plagne, part of Paradiski ski area, is one of the largest ski resorts in Europe 100 km2 of ski area spread across four communes (Aime, Bellentre, Champagny-en-Vanoise and Mâcot-la-Plagne). La Plagne has 225 kilometres of slopes made up of 134 slopes with a good balance of ski levels to suit everyone. There is also a large off-piste skiing area including Bellecôte’s North Face. La Plange also has A bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton track from the 1992 Winter Olympics.
There are 11 resort areas to stay within, each offering a different style and vibe. Choosing which resort to stay in is the difficult part!
The best restaurants in La Plagne
You won’t find La Plagne in the Michelin guide this year, but that’s not to say there aren’t decent dining options available. La Plagne is marketed towards the average traveller, leaving neighbouring Courchevel 1850 and Les Arcs to dominate the higher end restaurant market.
La Vache Rouge is a general favourite in the French Alps, they have several branches around and have delicious Savoyard dishes along with their famous steaks. La Métairie is also a standout fondue restaurant, both located in the main part of La Plagne resort.
La Face Nord is a popular choice for its patio dining with a sophisticated flair.
Top activities in La Plagne
Every winter sport under the sun is available in La Plagne. Even the obscure ones like Bobsledding and the Luge! You can do a solo bobsled, or opt for the raft. This steers and brakes on its own and holds 4 people for an amazing, shared experience, reaching 80 km/h in the fastest section of the descent. Considered as the “introduction” descent, it is perfect for the “first time”.
You can hire an array of other fun toys to ride over the mountains with. Motorised all-terrain Swincars, quad bikes, electric bikes, snow scooters, Moonbikes and skidoos.
The mecca of relaxation is in Belle Plagne with the 1500 m² Deep Nature complex devoted to decompressing and relaxing. Consisting of a Premium area and a Family area, with saunas, Turkish baths and indoor and outdoor pools.
17. Peisey-Nancroix | Charming Local Alpine Village
The Peisey-Nancroix area is part of the Paisey-Vallendry area and is located at the entrance to the National Park of Vanoise. It’s a peaceful area with chalets and a few small family run refuges. It is nestled between mountains so sunlight is a little infrequent, and it’s usually a few degrees colder than Les Arcs because of this. In summer the local cows graze on the fields and in winter they are turned into dos sled tracks and nordic skiing tracks. It is one of my favourite Places to Visit in the French Alps!
The best restaurants in Peisey-Nancroix
There isn’t a lot of dining options in Peisey- Nancroix as it is a place most people come for day trips. Opening hours can be sporadic for many of the businesses here but you can usually find a bite to eat at Restaurant Crêperie Chez Félix Rosuel or Restaurant Le Fer à Cheval.
I love the Le Petit Hibou a small restaurant at the top of Peisey-Nancroix. The head chef and owner is a Kiwi and her food is fantastic. It’s not open year-round, so check first, and ideally book your table, because it does fill up quickly. Service is wonderful and the menu changes frequently, but it is all beautifully presented and they have vegan options!
Activities and things to do in Peisey-Nancroix
My favourite Via Ferrata is via Ferrata Des Bettières located just within the park of Vanoise. It has three stages and you can easily opt-out between them, which is great to know if the weather is changeable or if you are unsure of your fitness levels.
In Winter the area around Le Petit Hibou is turned into a cross country ski area with several tracks for different degrees of skills. You can hire cross country skis there. Grab a mulled wine at one of the restaurants next door.
18. La Rosière | Fun for families
It was created in the mid-1950s on the site of an old village. It was connected with the close Italian ski resort of La Thuile in 1984 by means of two long drag lifts through the Little St Bernard Pass. It is a popular holiday destination for families with the Club Med hotel within La Rosière. It is only a small ski area, but it is perfect for beginners with 8 green and 25 blue slopes. There are also 35 red and 14 black runs for the more advanced skiers. KId’s all agree, that La Rosière is one of the Places to Visit in the French Alps!
The views over Bourg-Sta-Maurice and across to Les Arcs are really lovely- it is worth the splurge for a chalet or hotel that faces this. Getting to La Rosière is easy- You can grab a shuttle from Bourg-St-Maurice if you have arrived by TVG, or get the Coolbus shuttle from the airport.
Restaurants around La Rosière
The all-inclusive packages with Club Med are good value and handy to have as your staple while in town. Dining options outside of the resort are less numerous than at other ski resorts.
But Le Genépi, Restaurant Les Marmottes and Restaurant Le Boréal all provide fantastic French food and specialise in Savoyard dishes, they are worth the visit for a change of Club Med scenery.
Activities to do in the area
Drive out to Lac Du Roselend, a Dam about 5kms away that offers beautiful views and some light hiking trails. The road is twisty on the way out there, which makes for a lovely summer driver- it is closed in winter.
In winter there is a Village Igloo with ice carvings. It is well worth the visit, the kids love it and there is a full bar for the adults. You can even book an igloo hotel room if you are brave! Otherwise, book a table for dinner and enjoy dining inside an expansive igloo bar and restaurant. Prices are reasonable, given the extraordinary location.
Ride the XTREME Luge 4 Saisons, a short but fun ride down the mountainside. The circuit is varied with parts of it nestled in the forest and opening with beautiful breaks in the slope which allow nice alpine views. Can you go all the way down without braking? That’s their famous challenge!
19. Méribel | Chalet Ski-in Ski-out
Located in Les Trois Vallées along with Courchevel, and Le Menuires, Méribel is often noted as the more affordable ski resort in the region. While it still attracts some big names and celebrities staying in its chalets, it does have a slightly more demure tone. You can still find nice properties to stay in without breaking the bank while being able to enjoy popping over to Courchevel for a luxury experience too.
There are plenty of ski schools serving the area if you need to brush up on your ski skills before hitting the slopes.
Where to eat in Méribel
Le Folie Deuce between Méribel and Courchevel is always a hit with the apreś ski crowd. Buy a bottle of rose and enjoy the festivities.
Méribel also has an igloo restaurant which is worth a visit if you are staying in the area. You will need to hike for an hour to get there, but a delicious fondue and light beverages are included in the set dinner. Reservation is required and it is obviously only open in the winter months.
If you are looking for something low key and with a homely vibe, Aux Petits Oignons is a great little spot to visit. Try the snails, and enjoy the local alpine atmosphere.
For fine dining, book a table at Le Cepe, it has a gorgeous outdoor patio area which is perfect on a sunny afternoon. It has Michelin Bib Gourmand status currently.
The best activities to do in Méribel
The obvious- grab a ski pass for Les Trois Vallées and spend your days in the mountains. There are plenty of activities to keep you happy, even if you don’t ski. Such as horseback riding, Snowshoeing, and riding snowmobiles.
Lac De Tueda is a lovely lake that has walking tracks in the summer and Nordic skiing tracks in the winter. It’s a lovely place to visit and offers a free shuttle bus from Méribel.
20. Col de l’Iseran | A bucketlist roadtip in France
Col de l’Iseran is the highest paved pass in the Alps at 2,764 metres. It is a popular rest stop for road trippers on their way to and from Italy, but it should be noted that the Col de l’Iseran is only open in summer.
Admittedly one of the best mountains passes. Gradual, undulating, rich in detail, colour and scenic sub-genres. cyclists, motorcyclists and others carrying their drawing rooms as ‘grey nomads. There are decent signposting along the route. Plenty of crevices and other steep descents on the side make this passage among the most impressive and one of the Best Places to Visit in the French Alps.
Where to eat around Col de l’Iseran
There is a single restaurant at the summit, which has sporadic opening hours. The menu is basic, and not really accommodating for diety needs, so if you are looking for a good meal, I’d suggest eating at the towns on either side of Col de l’Iseran summit. Bonneval-sur-Arc and Val-d’Isère both have better-serviced restaurants. Albeit, with less amazing views.
The best activities to do in Col de l’Iseran
The Col is also accessible by off-road mountain paths and is the highest point both of the Alpine GR 5, a long-distance trail from Lake Geneva to Nice, and of the similar Grande Traversée des Alpes. There are waterfalls to the south of this steep descent as it enters the Vanoise National Park.
The pass has been used five times on the Tour de France since 1947. So it makes for a very popular summer destination for road cyclists taking up the challenge. It is 48kms in length one way and takes the riders from 812m to 2770m in altitude. It can be quite challenging, so come prepared.