5 outdoor family experiences in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Get away from it all in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. This vast area of central and eastern France includes the world-famous Alps mountain range and the less well-known Massif Central, as well as the vineyards of the Rhône Valley, lavender fields to the south, and the iconic extinct volcanoes of Auvergne. An ideal family playground – here are five ways to explore!

1/ Hike in the Alps mountains

The Alps are far more than just a winter destination. With summer activities such as hiking, mountain biking and paragliding, there are plenty of ways to soak up the stunning scenery with your children. Dominated by Mont Blanc, the dramatic skyline of rugged peaks and glaciers, crystal-clear mountain lakes and green meadows will amaze and invigorate the whole family. The ski lifts offer an easy ride up to the peaks without wearing yourself out. There are numerous pedestrian trails with signposts to keep you on track, and guides are also available in many resorts.

Find out more: savoie-mont-blanc.com (External link) and iser-tourism.com (External link)

2/ Swim in the Alpine lakes

One of the most vivid features of the summertime Alps are its turquoise lakes, offering a wealth of activities for the whole family including sailing, waterskiing, kayaking and paddleboarding. Lake Annecy (External link) is one of the region’s most popular, and considered one of the purest lakes in Europe. At Lac du Bourget, also glacier-fed and the largest and deepest lake in France, take a dip and enjoy the soothing and healing properties of the waters. Then there’s Lake Geneva – or Lac Léman – which forms a natural border with Switzerland. All lakes have well-maintained sandy beaches.

3/ Marvel at the Auvergne volcanoes

The Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park (External link) is a unique natural and geological treasure in Europe. The Puy de Dôme, the most famous of these vast sleeping giants, rises to 1,465m and offers an unrivalled panoramic view of the 80 surrounding volcanoes in the UNESCO-listed Chaîne des Puys. The Panoramique des Dômes train takes you up to the summit. Enjoy an interactive look at volcanoes across the world at Vulcania, a unique visitor centre built below ground at the heart of the volcanic landscape, with plenty of entertainment designed for children.

4/ Cycle on the ViaRhona route

Stretching for 815km along the River Rhône from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean, this cycle route (External link) passes the regional capital of Lyon and through a diversity of beautiful landscapes. There are plenty of ‘green way’ sections to choose from, all secure for little pedallers and broken into manageable stages of 15 to 25km, with places to picnic en route. You can also hire trailers for bikes, which are much more comfortable and fun than travelling with a child or baby seat.

5/ Spot wildlife in the national parks

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is perfect for animal-loving families too. There are wonderful opportunities to spot rare animals, from birds in the Parc des Oiseaux – one of Europe’s largest bird sanctuaries – to pine martens, marmots, chamois, ibex and even magnificent lynx that make their home in the Vanoise (External link) and Écrins (External link) National Parks. These and the 10 additional regional parks work hard to protect and develop the natural heritage of this exceptional area, having reintroduced many species previously threatened by extinction.