5 ways to soak up nature in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region’s exceptional natural heritage and stunning landscapes make it a haven for lovers of the great outdoors. From hiking in the Alps and walking in the Auvergne volcanoes to cycling the length of the Rhône and swimming in the Alpine lake at Bourget, there is no end to activities on offer. Here are some of our favorite activities.

1/ Hike the Grande Traversée des Alpes

The Grande Traversée des Alpes, which follows the GR5 hiking trail from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean, is one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. From the green shores of Lake Geneva and the snowy mountaintops of Savoie, to mountain pastures and villages by the sea, this 620km trail takes between three and four weeks to complete and showcases the many contrasting landscapes of the Alps. Grand Angle (External link) | Chamina Voyages (External link)

2/ Cycle the ViaRhôna

ViaRhôna (External link) is France’s new 815km cycle route running all the way down the Rhône from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean coast. Still under construction, this route will take cyclists on a journey from the Alps to the beaches of the Camargue, through emblematic landscapes and cities such as Lyon, Valence and Avignon, ending in either Port-Saint-Louis or Sète. The ViaRhôna will incorporate en route many historic sites, alternating between greenways and shared roads.

3/ Admire the Auvergne volcanoes

The Auvergne (External link) Volcanoes Regional Natural Park is a unique natural site and, in July 2018, the Chaîne des Puys - Limagne fault tectonic arena was added to UNESCO’s list of exceptional geological sites. The 1,465m-high Puy-de-Dôme, the Auvergne’s most famous volcano, is an official Grand Site de France®, and affords unparalleled panoramic views of the 80 volcanoes of the Chaîne des Puys.

4/ Follow the Santiago de Compostela trails

Throughout the Middle Ages, Santiago de Compostela was an extremely important destination for countless pilgrims. To reach Spain, they had to cross France, and many French historic monuments that are now listed world heritage sites were milestones on the four routes the pilgrims took. Three such sites are located in the Auvergne: Notre-Dame-du-Port Basilica in Clermont-Ferrand, and Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Hôtel-Dieu in Puy-en-Velay.

5/ Swim in the Lac du Bourget

The Lac du Bourget, France's largest and deepest natural lake, inspired Lamartine's famous poem ‘The Lake’ and has welcomed famous visitors such as Queen Victoria, who stayed in the spa town of Aix-les-Bains (External link) . Today, visitors can still enjoy the healing properties of the natural springs here as well as various activities on the lake, such as sailing, swimming and fishing.