Where to go in Rhone Valley/Alps

Nov 13th, 2002, 09:27 AM
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Where to go in Rhone Valley/Alps

We are traveling to France in May '03 and want to spend several days in this area. We would love suggestions on the towns to visit and in particular, any small towns in the Alps that would be neat to stay in (for a day or 2). If you have lodging suggestions, that would also be helpful. Thanks.
Nov 13th, 2002, 03:22 PM
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I think Briancon in the Hautes Alpes is a lovely town, which has a fortified old town section that is quite charming. Look up www.briancon.com. It's a couple of hrs, approx., from Lyon and Grenoble; we flew in to Milan to get a direct flight from USA, but it's closer to the French cities. We were there for skiing, but it is well known for its spring/summer season, too. Very traditional part of France; most of the visitors are French.
Nov 14th, 2002, 10:23 AM
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THanks Sue. Anyone else?
Nov 14th, 2002, 11:39 AM
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Another lovely route is north from Grenoble (although can also go directly from Lyon to Chambery) to Chambery and
up the valley Albertville, Bourge-St-Maurice - fantastic scenery , valleys , mts etc. be sure to make short detour to Annency - a really beautiful town - and if time permits up to Evian on Lake
Geneva (still in France). Bon Voyage !
Nov 14th, 2002, 11:53 AM
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Sue: Its not spelled Briancon but something like Besancon and called " bess ann scion " if you are taking about the University town with that large fortified castle on the hill above the city. I agree with Sue that that is a lovely place to stay - having stayed there fairly recently. I had returned to Annecy thinking I would find the lovely town that I had once been to and found that there were so many people that I could not recognise the place. Didn't think Chambery was much to write home about either. There is a beautiful little 16th century village on Lake Geneva called some like Yvoir - at least I think that is the spelling. It is across the lake from Geneva and quite beautiful and still in France. I neally fell out of the car when I drove from France into Geneva recently and was asked for 60 Swiss Francs for road Tax !!!!!! As I was just wanting to drive along lake Geneva for a few miles I decided that I would just drive out of Switzerland and forgo propping up the Swiss economy single-handedly.
Nov 14th, 2002, 12:14 PM
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it *is* spelled Briancon! Besancon is located north of Geneva.

Yvoire is the correct spelling. I agree, it is a lovely village.

Regarding the 60 Sfr. - I guess it was only 40 Sfr., which is the price for the Vignette for motorways. But you have the choice - you don't need to take the motorways in Switzerland, even if you just want to drive a few kilometers around the lake!

Nov 14th, 2002, 12:38 PM
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Liz, I know about which I write: it is spelled Briancon; Besancon, as Ingo points out, is much farther north. Briancon, as I said, is in the Hautes Alpes, which are southern Alpes, in reality. If you look on a map, you will see that Briancon is not terribly far away from the Mediterranean. It is just a few miles away from Italy, near Oulx.
Nov 15th, 2002, 07:20 AM
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OK, I'll do a little publicity pitch for my hometown, Romans, on the road between Valence and Grenoble. A charming little town, nothing much, BUT, it is home to France's upscale shoe manufacturing. So you'll have tons of outlet stores selling Jourdan, Kelian, Manoukian, Fenestrier, etc. all at 50 % off French high street prices, so I assume with an even higher discount compared to American prices.
Otherwise the Rhone Valley per se is not an exciting place, bar Tain-L'Hermitage (wineries) and Vienne (roman remains) 40 km south of Lyon. It's basically a communications corridor stuffed with an ultra busy autoroute, a major national road, the TGV line, and scores of nuclear power plants. Then, when you reach Orange, the story changes, but this is already Provence...

An unknown - to Americans, not to Dutch and Brits who are little by little colonizing the villages - region is the Ardeche departement, on the right bank of the Rhone. It's like Provence, but more rugged and authentic. The Gorges de l'Ardeche are quite scenic.

On the other side of the river, charming little alpine towns are not as common in France as they are in Switzerland or Austria. Your best bet would be in the Haute Savoie departement: La Clusaz, Morzine, Megeve. Areches, in the Savoie, is an authentic, off the beaten path village which, IMHO, produces the best "Swiss cheese", the Beaufort. But, you know what, since you are going in May, you can practice "spring skiing" in Tignes, Val Thorens (Savoie) or Les Deux Alpes (Isere): fun, warm, and quiet !
Nov 16th, 2002, 07:21 AM
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Feb 20th, 2006, 10:03 AM
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How was your trip in May '03?

My husband and I will be going to Briancon in May 06. Do you have any suggestions as to places to stay/eat?

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Feb 20th, 2006, 10:35 AM
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Abigail, I will be eager to hear of your trip to Briancon when you return; we were there in March (of 2000--wow, time flies!), and I'd love to hear what it's like in May. I'm sure it's beautiful.

We stayed at a quaint little 2 star (then family owned--no longer, I hear) right across the street from the Mt. Prorel ski lift, perfect for the skiers, Auberge le Mont Prorel. It was basic but again, perfect for our needs. You may want something a little more upscale. There are some nice restaurants in the Old Town that serve the hearty typical-of-the region fare.

You probably already know that Briancon is just a few miles away over the border from the Sestriere ski venues in the current Olympics.
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