Hiking and cycling on The Alps’ summits

From the summits of the Alps, topped by Mont-Blanc (4810 m), to the craters of the Chaine des Puys and its iconic Puy de Dôme, via the endless fields of lavender, great alpine and volcanic lakes, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is France’s number one region for outdoor activities based on the number of open-air sports facilities (sources PRNSN) and the places to swim other than on the coast.

It is also Europe’s top mountain region: 80 % of its territory is in the mountains, with Mont-Blanc considered the “roof” of Western Europe. And it is also France’s number one region for places to swim that are not on the coast, with its great alpine lakes such as Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), Lac du Bourget, Lac d’Annecy and the volcanic lakes of Auvergne.

The region also has 826 km of cycle ways and greenways, including the legendary mountain passes of the Tour de France to be climbed.

There are two major water courses: to the east is the Rhône with its tributaries, which crosses the region from north to south and spills into the Mediterranean; to the west is the Loire, France’s longest river, with its main tributary, the Allier.

Such a beautiful natural environment means that touring holidays really come into their own, whether along the major itineraries in the great outdoors, on cycle ways or greenways, on roads (for bikes and cars) or on rivers.

And the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes has some definite advantages that facilitate touring within the area: it is one of the most mountainous areas in Europe, with two main ranges – the northern Alps and the Massif Central – ten or so regional or national natural parks and major hiking or cycle routes that are known worldwide: St-Jacques de Compostelle routes, the ViaRhôna, the Grande Traversée des Alpes, the Sur les Pas des Huguenots trail…