This past month, a few ladies and I spent a week exploring the food, wine and spas of France’s famed Rhone-Alps region, home of Cote de Rhone and Beaujolais wine, Evian water, the world’s most famous mountain range, and more than 65 Michelin-starred restaurants. Like many people, I originally thought of the Alps as a primarily winter destination – known for skiing and scenic mountain towns where I’d snow bunny it up by day and eat fondue by evening. What I didn’t know? France’s second most popular tourist region has a wealth of experiences to offer all year round, and the northern part of the region is the perfect place for a girlfriend or romantic getaway. Whether you’re planning a long weekend as part of a trip in France, Switzerland or somewhere else in Europe or you’re using this as the bulk of your destination, the region has a lot to offer.
Here are 10 of our favorite things to do in the area:
1. Lyon. Start your trip in Lyon, a city of vibrant arts, culture, and of course, food. Shop for Hermes (their scarf factory is in Lyon), stroll the winding streets, and walk the scenic Rhone riverside. It’s your first day, and you must be tired.
2. Daniel et Denise. This traditional Bouchon in Lyon has a cozy ambiance – think red checked tablecloths and vintage posters on the wall – as well as a lively, local-filled atmosphere.
3. Go Wine Tasting. Taste your way through the Beaujolais vineyards with the help of the Beaujolais wine app – free in the Apple app store. You can search by vineyard and city name. We’d suggest a visit to theChateau de la Chaize in Odenas and the Chateau de Montmelas in Montmelas, both of which boast friendly staff and beautiful vineyards.
4. Visit a luxury hotel built in 1030. The Chateau de Pizay, one of the area’s most lovely luxury hotels boasts a large spa with a variety of vinotherapy treatments.
5. Try a bed and breakfast with a Michelin-starred chef. Visit the tiny town of Clochemerle and the Auberge de Clochemerle, a seven-room inn owned by a husband-and-wife team. The restaurant just got its first Michelin star this year and serves contemporary French cuisine with a local and sustainable twist.
6. Visit a true French Love story. Stop at the Royal Monastary of Brou, built by Margaret of Austria for her deceased husband, Philbert of Savoy, a gorgeous medieval monastery and spectacularly-preserved historic specimen.
7. Take a Resort Vacation at the Georges-Blanc Parc & Spa. Don’t miss the gorgeous spa, with treatments by names like Carita, as well as the three pools. We’d suggest a leisurely meal at L’Ancienne Auberge, which serves the famed Bress Chicken, a dish invented by Blanc’s family. If you’re in the mood for something truly special, book a table at the gastronomic restaurant, a Michelin three-star experience.
8. Experience one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France” in Yvoire, a small town along the banks of Lake Geneva. Stroll the cobblestoned streets before feasting on a lunch of fried perch – a lake delicacy – and pomme frites at the Hotel-Restaurant du Port.
9. Sample the real Evian. Don’t miss a visit to Evian-les-Bains, home of the famed Evian water. This lakeside town is bustling with warmth and charm. Stroll along the lakefront, visit a local market, or play the famed golf course at the Evian Royal Resort, which also offers the Evian Spa Source.
10. Visit Buddha Bar – the Spa. You’ve been to Buddha Bar, the restaurant. Now try the spa. The only spa by the famed chain, Buddha Bar spa is located in the Hilton Evian and offers treatments that mix Asian sensibility and relaxation.
Fly direct to Paris from more than a dozen US gateways on Air France. Serving up some of the sky’s best service, you’ll enjoy traditional French fare and clean, updated planes, plus a variety of connections once you arrive at Charles de Gaulle. We’d highly recommend upgrading to their Premium Economy (Premium Voyageur) or Business (Affaires) class, as you’ll enjoy much better seating, upgraded dining, fine French wines and champagne as well as great Clarins amenity kits. To get to the Rhone-Alps region, you’ll connect in Paris to Lyon or take the train from the airport.
Don't miss this great video series from one of our travel companions, Travel Therapy's Karen Schaler.