Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is a region of France created from the merger of Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes. The region borders Occitanie and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur to the south, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté to the north, Nouvelle-Aquitaine to the west, Switzerland (Cantons of Geneva, Valais and Vaud) and Italy (Aosta valley and Piedmont) to the northeast and east.
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes covers an area of more than 69,711 km2 (26,916 sq mi), making it the third largest region in metropolitan France, with a population of 7,695,264, second only to Île-de-France.
Things to do in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
There is so much to do in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. From walking in the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Nature Park or the Vanoise National Park to cross-country skiing in the Bauges at Aix-les-Bains.
You can try rock climbing across the Mont-Blanc massif, or swimming in the lakes of Annecy, Aiguebelette, Aydat, Le Bourget, Grangent and Chambon. This large region is a delight for those who seek their recreational pleasure in the outdoors.
But Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes also has a remarkable heritage of castle forts, Romanesque churches, villages and towns of architectural and cultural importance. Explore Annecy, Chambéry, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Le Puy-en-Velay, Montluçon, Moulins and Riom.
South of Lyon, on both flanks of the Rhône valley, are two renowned destinations: Drôme, with its charming villages, gently rolling hills, lavender fields and mountains. And the Ardèche on the other, famed for its gorges so loved by kayakers, characterful villages, volcanic sites, medieval castles and stunning panoramas.
Foodies will love the region, too, tempted by chees from Auvergne and Savoie, green lentils from Le Puy, Lyonnaise salad, and potée Auvergnate stew.
You can also enjoy poultry from Bresse, tartiflette, raclette and fondue. Don’t moss out on wines from Côtes du Rhône and Saint-Pourçain, Montélimar nougat, Saint-Genix cake and pompe aux pommes, a delicious local apple tart.
Departments in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Ain: The Brou royal convent, Gothic masterpiece, the Dombes lakes, the Saracen chimneys in Bresse, and the charming medieval town of Pérouges are among the gems to be discovered.
Allier: Unspoiled nature, magnificent forest of Tronçais oaks, castles and fortresses.
Ardèche: Mountains, captivating villages, chestnut groves, the Ardèche Mountains Regional Nature Park, spas, and of course the famous Ardèche gorges.
Cantal: Wild landscapes abound, mountain massif of the Monts du Cantal and its famous Puy Mary, chestnut grove, medieval villages, typical dishes and renowned cheeses.
Drôme: Diverse landscapes, ranging from the hills and villages of the Provençal Drôme to the Vercors Pre-Alps massif, wild and unspoiled place great for walking and bird watching.
Haute-Loire: In the south of Auvergne, the Haute-Loire forests, high plateaux and verdant prairies, charming villages, medieval castles and the City of Art and History, Puy-en-Velay.
Haute-Savoie: Mont-Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe, dominates Haute-Savoie. Then there is Lake Geneva lined with spa towns, prestigious winter and summer sports resorts. And the city of Annecy, the Venice of Savoie with its wonderful lake.
Isère: Vercors massif, the City of Art and History of Vienne, the Chartreuse Regional Nature Park, and Grenoble, a city of art rich in museums.
Loire: a great place for walking among Pilat mountain area, the Loire gorges, Grangent lake, and Saint-Etienne, the city with seven hills.
Puy-de-Dôme: Situated in the heart of the Massif Central, the Puy-de-Dôme holds a splendid natural heritage. You should see the Monts du Dôme, the first volcanic mountain range in Europe, the Monts Dore and the Artense plateau…and don’t overlook Clermont-Ferrand, capital of Auvergne.
Rhône: Famous for its major city of Lyon, with an historic site inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Rhône is also renowned for its gastronomy and for its famous Beaujolais vineyard.
Savoie: ski resorts attracting skiers from all over the world, and the Vanoise massif, a paradise for the fans of VTT (mountain hiking).