No part of France has more dramatic scenery than the Alps; the western ramparts of the mountains and their foothills are truly majestic. From the Mediterranean to the Rhine, they stretch along the southeastern flank of France. The skiing here is the best in Europe. Some resorts are legendary, such as Chamonix-Mont Blanc, the capital of Alpine skiing, with its 19km (12-mile) Vallée Blanche run. Mont Blanc, at 4,810m (15,780 ft.), is the highest mountain in western Europe.

Popularized in the 1920s, especially by the 1924 Winter Olympics, the resorts of the French Alps offer some of the best skiing in Europe. There are now dozens of resorts providing year-round activities in addition to the over 1,000 ski slopes. Snowshoeing, hiking, biking, rock climbing or visual thrills can be had by rising in the Chamonix cable car or by cruising along the Route des Grandes Alpesfrom Lake Geneva to the Riviera.


From January to March, skiers flock to Chamonix-Mont Blanc, Megève, Val d'Isère, and Courchevel 1850; from July to September, spa fans head to Evian-les-Bains and Aix-les-Bains. Grenoble, the capital of the French Alps, is the gateway. Grenoble lies 30 minutes by car from the Grenoble-St-Geoirs airport, 40 minutes from the Lyon-Satolas international airport, and 90 minutes from Geneva's Cointrin airport. The city is connected to the Paris-Lyon-Marseille motorway on the west and to the Chambéry-Geneva motorway on the east.