Scenic Rhone Alpes
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Day 1: Talloire/Annecy for 1 night
Arrive Geneva Airport
Pick up your rental car
Peugeot 508 or similar Full Size Class – Automatic Transmission, CDW & theft included
Stop and visit the town of Yvoire’s on Lake Geneva a member village of « Les Plus Beau Villages de France »
stone houses with wooden balconies and its narrow streets decked with wisteria and geraniums are just two of the reasons that have earned it the name of « pearl of Lake Geneva » (Lac Léman in French). The village was once a fishing and boatmen’s port overlooked by a square keep which today is one of the relics of Yvoire’s medieval past. In 2006, Yvoire celebrated the 700th anniversary of its fortifications that were built by Amédée V the Great, Count of Savoy.
Suggested visit the Garden of 5 senses
The drive to Talloires is about 1 hour
1 duplex suite, with balcony and lake view, breakfast & taxes included at Auberge du Père Bise****
Auberge du Père Bise is located on the banks of Lake Annecy, in the Bay of Talloires. It has a terrace and private gardens. Free Wi-Fi is available in the rooms.
Each du Père Bise is air-conditioned and has an en suite bathroom and TV.
Guests are invited to dine in the hotel’s restaurant, which serves seasonal cuisine. Guests can also have an aperitif or after-dinner drink in the bar.
Dinner reservations at the hotels gastronomic restaurant
Morning private guided tour of Annecy le Vieux and its Wednesday food market (2 hours)
Start your day with a visit to the Old Annecy Town in the morning with your English-speaking guide. Fall under the spell of medieval arcades, lively street markets and historic bridges arching over the crisscrossing canals. You will be led through the quaint streets and quays burgeoning with flowers. Take a one-hour boat cruise on Lake Annecy, which affords stunning views of sovereign Alpine peaks. The piercing emerald waters will make it clear why it’s earned a reputation as Europe’s cleanest lake.
Suggested lunch in one of the many restaurants in the center of Annecy
Afternoon private boat tour of Lake Annecy to discover the villages and beaches around the lake (2 hours)
Private tour of the region in a 2cv historic French Citroen automobile (5 hours)
Possible theme tours:
The 2CV in the vineyards
Off we go to the Savoy vineyard. We’ll stop off at Apremont to visit the house of the Savoy wines and enjoy a nice tasting.
– We’ll drive through Apremont’s vineyards, and past Lake St André with the overhanging mountain Le Granier. And we’ll head to Chignin and its nice vineyards.
– We’ll stop off at this exceptional place…
– And we’ll go for tastings at a local wine grower where you’ll be able to buy some wines if you wish.
– Then, it’ll be time to come back, taking the opportunity to drive round Mount St Michel…
The Gourmet 2CV
Not only will you be driven to the pass of Bluffy and past the castle of Menthon Saint Bernard, but you will also stop off to taste the country products at the terrace of « L’Auberge des Dents de Lanfon »
– Here you’ll taste the country’s specialties (salt meat, « tartiflette » – a dish made of potatoes and melted cheese – green salad, dessert, all served with a glass of red or white wine…)
– After this nice and traditional meal with a nice view on the lake, we’ll head to the chapel Saint Germain on the hills of Talloires to admire the stunning view of the lake.
– Back to town with a glimpse of Mark Veyrat’s restaurant and the lakeside.
Lake Bourget, Chanaz, Seyssel, Vineyards
– The 2CV and its driver will take you to the region of the « Val de Fier » so as to discover the Chautagne region.
– We’ll make a first stop either at the village of Seysell to taste the Royal Seysell wine and other Royal and fantastic bubbles, or at the Chautagne cellars.
– We’ll then drive across the river Rhone and stop at the charming village of Chanaz linking up the Rhone and Lake Bourget.
– We’ll make the most of the village and get a fine café offered in the coffee-roasting shop « Artisans Torréfacteur » (traditional exceptional Café / single-origin Café)
– After the stroll around Chanaz, we’ll drive towards Lake Bourget taking the pass of « Chambotte » with its magnificent view on the lake.
– Finally, we’ll get back to Annecy.
Day 4 – Megeve for 3 nights
The drive to Megeve is about 1 hour 15 minutes
Megève, a village and its history. A charming, elegant and prestigious ski-resort with Mont Blanc as a background. The opportunity to stay in an authentic savoyard village, rich with traditions and local history and situated in a unique natural environment which will welcome you in any season. Historically an important leather tannery town, Megeve’s role as a ski resort was established at the beginning of the 20th century by the Rothschild family. It is now considered by many to be one of the most beautiful ski-resorts in the world.
1 double prestige room, breakfast & taxes included at Hotel Alpaga*****
Alpaga features south-facing balconies overlooking the Val d’Arly in the French Alps. It offers hotel rooms and self-catering apartments and features an indoor swimming pool, spa treatments at Spa La Colline, a hot tub and a Scandinavian bath.
The accommodations are decorated in cool, neutral tones and all feature views of the surrounding mountains. Each has a flat-screen satellite TV, an iPod docking station and free Wi-Fi access.
Guests can choose to eat at the Michelin-starred « La table de l’Alpaga » restaurant, which offers continental breakfasts and gastronomic food, or at L’Onyx, a lounge restaurant. You can dine on the outdoor sun terrace in warmer months.
Popular outdoor activities include fishing and hiking and the hotel sells ski passes. Guests also have access to the on-site fitness centre and tennis courts.
Hike the Calvary trail from town
The Calvary trail is a walk up the lower slopes of Mont d’Arbois which passes 15 chapels and oratories. These chapels mark the Stations of the Cross, the route that Jesus took on his way to be crucified. The chapels and oratories were built between 1840 and 1878. Each chapel is different and they borrow a range of styles and house lots of statues, frescoes and trompe -l’oeil.
The Cross of Saint Michael is on the Calvary. As well as admiring the religious buildings the route has splendid views of the valley of Arly and the foothills of Mont Blanc.
Spend the day in Chamonix
At the foot of Mont Blanc (4808m or 15,770ft), the highest mountain in western Europe, Chamonix’s alpine town atmosphere and spectacular scenery attract people from all over the globe. It boasts one of the highest cable cars in the world.
Chamonix is best known for two things: Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in France, stands at the edge of the town; and for being a very popular Alpine Ski resort. Not just in the winter – the town is busy all year round with those seeking to enjoy outdoor activities in the stunning settings that surround the region.
Chamonix the town has a history dating back 500 years, and whilst the town has grown it has retained a real alpine charm and wandering through the town is a real pleasure. More than most ski resorts, you do get some sense of history from staying in Chamonix and there are some traditional buildings in the centre.
The transition from quiet village to major resort started in the early 20th century, culminating in the Winter Olympics at Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (the name had changed in 1916).
Take the Aiguille du Midi cable car which leaves from the centre of Chamonix Town (1035m) up to the summit of the Aiguile du Midi (3842m).
It is a two-stage journey. The first leg brings visitors to the Plan de l’Aiguille (2,317m). The second stage, without any support pillar, traverses Les Pelerins glacier before rising up the North Face of the Aiguille du Midi at the top station (3778m). A footbridge connects the cable car top station with the Central Piton terrace. An elevator inside the rock rises the visitor the final 42m to the top terrace at an altitude of 3,842m.
The Aiguille du Midi is a 3842m peak in the Mont Blanc massif of the French Alps. This is the closest you can get to the summit of Mont-Blanc without hiking or climbing.
The Aiguille du Midi is the highest mountain peak served by an aerial lift system. The name translates literally to « Needle of the Mid-day ». The mountain lies to the south-east of Chamonix and when viewed from in front of the church it indicates that it is noon when the sun passes over its summit. When you get to the top there is a spectacular viewing station giving 360° views over Mont Blanc and the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. From here you can get another cable car to Pointe Helbronner in Italy.
Another excursion is to take the Montenvers – Mer de Glace railway from Chamonix to the Sea of Ice. A grotto is cut into the heart of the glacier each year allowing you to stand right inside the glacier. There is also an exhibition showing the best of the crystals found on the slopes of Mont Blanc.
Suggested day trips:
South of Megeve
Vanoise National Park is an extensive protected area in the Alps in the south-east of France, east of Chambery and along the Italian border. This park is in the département of Savoie, in the Rhone-Alps region, entered via Modane to the south, Bourg-Saint-Maurice to the north and Moutiers to the west.
There are more than 100 mountains over 3000 metres altitude here, with the highest being the Grande Casse at 3855 metres above sea level.
The most important towns in the region are the gateway towns (Modane, Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Moutiers) and the ski resorts. Otherwise there is little in the way of development within the park itself.
There are several villages in the region which are usually small, often in splendid settings, and provide an interesting glimpse of the harshness of mountain life – remember, many of the tracks now covered by well-equipped hikers were originally tracks used by the villagers to pass from one region to the next.
Bonneval-sur- in the Vanoise national park is a member village of « Les Plus Beau Villages de France »
For 6 or 7 months of the year in Savoie, in the Haute-Maurienne Valley, Bonneval-sur-Arc quilts its stone-built houses with their stone-slab roofs in a thick snowy mass from which only the typical chimneys and church spire emerge.
North of Megeve
One hour drive from Megeve is the town of Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval also a member village of « Les Plus Beau Villages de France »
This is a strange name for a village but it hasn’t stopped it from being labelled a Grand Site ! Although the Cirque du Fer à Cheval has made Sixt famous, it is not its only treasure. The Cascade du Rouget waterfall, nicknamed Queen of the Alps, and the nature reserve that covers most of the district add to the site’s exceptional character. The architectural heritage is not to be left out either as shown by the priory and church stemming from the former abbey founded by Ponce de Faucigny.
Abbeys and churches : 13C church and priory
Day 7- The Beaujolais country for 2 nights
The drive to Bagnols in the Beaujolais country is about 2 & 1/2 hours
Bagnols is a beautiful little village with an attractive church and a castle in the centre. The main square, called the Place du Chateau has the Chateau running along its lower edge and the village Mairie on one side. These as well as all the other buildings in the village are built in a beautiful golden stone which comes from the quarries just above the village.
There is a large stone cross on the square which was erected during the role of the Emperor Napolean (1804).
A small bar/restaurant on the square gives you the chance to relax and take in your surroundings.
At the top of the village is the church which was built in the 15th century. The church windows have a very pale stained glass giving the interior a very light and airy atmosphere. It is very unusual but makes a pleasant change from the darker interiors more common in churches..
Bagnols is surrounded by vines used to make the lovely Beaujolais wines of the region. Historically the village grew up around the main trades of wine-making and stone-cutting as a result of the vines and the quarries in the neighbourhood. The quarries have closed now but wine making is still an important industry.
Bagnols chateau has been renovated and restored by an English couple, Peter and Helen Hamlyn, and is now a luxurious hotel decorated with fabulous period furniture and surrounded by attractive French-style gardens. Famous guests include Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Bruce Willis.
The chateau dates from the 13th century and has a wonderful Renaissance mantelpiece carved with the Arms of France for a visit by King Charles VIII.
Chai suite, breakfats & taxes included at Chateau de Bagnols****
Located in the heart of the Beaujolais, Château de Bagnols is an historical monument with over eight centuries of history, as well as a prestigious hotel-restaurant. Its moats, surrounding walls, towers and golden stones are surrounded by vines and set amid French style gardens.
Each room and suite at Château de Bagnols has an individual and refined décor. Rooms and suites are furnished with restored antiques and mural paintings.
For a unique candle-lit dinner, guests can dine in front of one of the largest gothic chimneys in Europe in the fine-dining restaurant. The restaurant offers guests traditional local cuisine with a contemporary twist, inspired by the quality and abundance of the produce of our local markets.
Guests have free access to the property’s spa with an indoor swimming pool, a hammam, a fitness room. Massages and a nail corner are available for an additional cost. In summer, they can also enjoy Roman outdoor swimming pool. Guests can contact the concierge to arrange activities such as skiing, horse riding, and hot-air balloon trips.
Château de Bagnols is 19.9 miles from Lyon.
Visit the charming villages known as « Les Villages des Pierres dorée » (villages of golden stone)
Theize has been populated for centuries. Neolithic people left flints as evidence of their presence. Some of the paving stones in the village date to Roman times and Theizé’s castle and chapel date to medieval times.
The large stone cross on the village square dates back to 1567 but the little niches underneath the cross were not filled in until 1996. The figures in the niches are: the virgin Mary, Saint Claude, Saint Roch and the village saint – Saint Antoin. This cross is the Stone Mason’s Guild cross. Also in the village centre is the Gothic church of Theizé.
At the top of the village see the old church and the Chateau de Rochebonne. The Chateau de Rochebonne was destroyed during the Hundred Years War in order to stop it falling into English hands. It was rebuilt in the 15th century. The ancient church which was once the chapel of Rochebonne contains 17th century frescoes
Theize is in the area known as the Beaujolais Region of Golden Stone as the buildings are made from lovely golden stone from a nearby quarry. The countryside arround consists of rolling hills many of which covered by grapevines and dotted by peaceful villages made of the lovely local stone.
Not far from Theizé is a 16th century Chapel the Chapelle of St Hippolyte. There are also various ‘cadoles’ – small dry stone shelters, and you can also visit Chateau de Rapetour, an 18th century castle with an interior courtyard and Renaissance galleries.
Theizé is in the Beaujolais wine region making a spot of wine tasting high on the priority list.
Oingt is located in the Beaujolais vineyards of the Rhone, 25 kilometres northwest of Lyon. Oingt had its period of greatest prosperity from the 12th-14th centuries at which time the castle was also built, but from the 16th century, the village was ravaged by the plague and very much damaged in war and attacks.
The regeneration of Oingt started in the middle of the 20th century with the restoration of several of the key buildings such as the castle’s chapel and many of the streets (eg Rue Trayne Cul) and buildings that comprise the village.
The ‘regeneration’ of the village culminated in the 2007 inclusion of the village as a « Plus beau village de France » ‘most beautiful village of France’.
The village buildings are constructed (and restored) in the local honey-coloured stone. The village climbs uphill along narrow streets to the church and tower at the top of the village. A pleasant and pretty town to explore, Oingt also has far-reaching views from across the Azergues valley and southern Beaujolais region – especially from the castle keep.
Oingt originally developed around its chateau and the castle’s chapel became the village church. The tower in Oingt was the dungeon of the castle and was built in 1193.
Saint-Verand village boasts lovely floral displays and a surprising number of squares, each with its own special feel:one bustling with shops, one shady and relaxed, and one in front of the church. After visiting the church you could take a walk in the Forêt de la Flachère or go wine tasting in the local cooperative winery.
Sainte-Paule village snuggles around its 12th century hilltop church (worth visiting). Not far from the church you’ll see a 16th century cross depicting the Virgin Mary crowned by angels and St James of Compostella baptising a pilgrim. Why not take one of the footpaths which lead to the top of the Col du Chatoux and try a Beaujolais speciality, a ‘mâchon’ (snack composed of charcuterie and served with Beaujolais wine).
Ternand a fortified medieval village built on a rocky promontory, Ternand has managed to keep all of its old world charm. There are two parts to the village: the modern part, Les Grandes Planches, down in the valley and the Vieux Bourg, the medieval part up on the rocky spur; a themed trail will show you how to get there. Once there you will go back in time as you wander through narrow cobbled streets, see the ruins of the the former castle and its dugeon, the church of St-John the Baptist, magnificent houses with 14th/15th century façades, mullioned windows, iron work, 14th century doors. Of particular interest are La Brèche and La Maison du Tailleur (the tailor’s house). Exhibition Centre (Maison des
Expositions) open weekends from May to October with local artists’ work on show. If you’ve been taken with this journey back in time make a date to come and see the Medieval Festival during the first weekend of July.
Day 9 – Lyon for 2 nights
The drive to Lyon is about 30 minutes
Drop-off your car after checking into your hotel
1 double deluxe room, breakfast & taxes included at Villa Florentine****
This splendid villa, offering sublime panoramic views of Lyon, certainly lives up to its name. Our Villa boasts 28 comfortable rooms as well as a restaurant, seminars rooms and a fitness centre. Everything from its elegant façade to its sunny rooms, furnished with a mixture of Renaissance refinement and contemporary design, has a sumptuous Florentine feel to it. Savour refined cuisine and superb Rhône vintages at the restaurant Les Terrasses de Lyon, while contemplating the city lights twinkling below.
It has one of the best reputations in France, and indeed the world because it uses top quality regional produce and products. We are located here at the crossroads of several unique food-producing areas: Charolais beef, poultry from Bresse, cheese from the Auvergne region and fresh fish from the lake regions located in and around the French Alps. Our gastronomy is based firmly around this excellent local produce, it’s a simple style of cooking that shows off our local products to perfection.
There are plenty: Lyon offers a range of restaurants for all tastes, from the traditional « bouchon » to fine dining, not forgetting our local Asian restaurants!
For the local bouchon restaurants, I’d recommend the inimitable Café Comptoir Abel, Lyon’s oldest bouchon: where they truly serve excellent cuisine. You could also try the Café des Fédérations, Garet, Brunet’s, Meunière or Jura. In a completely different style, the Brasserie Georges offers a superb 1930’s setting and a menu with both traditional French dishes and Alsatian specialties. The Potager des Halles, my favourite restaurant in Lyon, offers a new take on French cuisine centered on the product itself.
Old Lyon Walking Tour (2 hours)
This Renaissance district, listed by Unesco, is the largest area of this kind in France… It covers 24 hectares along the banks of the Saone river. Old Lyon’s urban development took place principally in the 15th and 16th centuries. After visiting the Gothic cathedral, wander through the narrow cobbled streets and passageways called « Traboules ». These famous covered passageways which lead from one street to the next via corridors through residences, superbly hide renovated architectural treasures: inner courtyards, covered Italian archways, spiral staircases.
In the afternoon visit the Lyon Gallo Romain Museum and Amphitheater
Suggested taxi to Lyon St Exupery airport
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