Defined on the one hand by the river Rhône and on the other by the Alps, the prosperous and pretty Rhône-Alpes region is a major hub, linking northern France and Europe to the Mediterranean. There are enough attractions here to make it a holiday destination in its own right, and it's certainly worth breaking up a trip to the Mediterranean by stopping off here for a few days to enjoy some of them.
The Rhône-Alpes landscape is dreamy - from snow-kissed alpine peaks to green valleys and aromatic fields of lavender and groves of gnarled olive trees. There's the majesty of Mont Blanc and the drama of the Ardèche Gorges with their limestone cliffs.
Then there are the vineyards stretching out for miles, producing Côtes du Rhône and Beaujolais, perfect partners for the fabulous food found throughout the region. Famous or just superb restaurants are found throughout Rhône-Alpes, but most notably in its capital Lyon, long considered to be the gastronomic capital of France. Here, there are many Michelin starred restaurants, including the legendary Bocuse, but also traditional bouchons, serving local classics such as saucisson de Lyon and regional charcuterie, tripe triple cooked with onions, pike quenelles and Poulet de Bresse. The eastern region serves some distinctively alpine fare, such as rib-sticking raclette and fondues.
Given the gastronomic temptation it's just as well as the Rhone-Alpes is such an adventure playground, with Grenoble and Chamonix providing excellent skiing in the winter and acting as bases for summer activities from hiking to rafting. There are pleasures beyond the physical too - Lyon's historical quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Annecy, set by a beautiful lake, is an utterly charming old alpine town filled with atmosphere and history.