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On the road

Closest KM: Orcier, at KM 46, is just 10 km away from Thonon-les-Bains on the shores of the lake

The Tour du Lac Léman is a real gem among cross-border routes! This route stretches for 177 km and offers breathtaking views of the blue waters and Alpine peaks where France meets Switzerland. The highlight of the Swiss side of the border is definitely the climb on the hillsides, among the terraced vineyards of Lavaux. It is a steep slope, but the magnificent environment —a UNESCO World Heritage Site— makes it well worth a visit before plunging to Montreux, famous around the globe for its jazz festival. Truly audacious riders will challenge the Cinglés du Léman, a group of enthusiasts of the Tour du Lac who keep records on the number of laps completed throughout the year. The 2022 winner did 34 laps around the lake, amounting to 6,181 km! Cyclists who prefer a leisurely pace can extend their journey on the French side on the ViaRhôna or stay in Switzerland: the country boasts over 12,000 kilometres of marked cycling tourism routes.


Departments: Ain, Allier, Ardèche, Cantal, Drôme, Isère, Loire, Haute-Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône, Métropole de Lyon, Savoie, Haute-Savoie.
Population: 8 million
Prefecture: Lyon
Area: 69,711 km2
Specialities: Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône and Savoie wines, Lyon specialities (quenelles, cervelles de canut, saucisson.), potée auvergnate, Savoyard specialities (raclette, fondue, tartiflettes, diots, crozets), cheeses (beaufort, reblochon, cantal, bleu d'Auvergne, Salers, saint-Nectaire...), green lentil of Le Puy, waters (Evian, Thonon, Volvic) verbena, chartreuse.
Sports clubs: Olympique Lyonnais, AS Saint-Etienne, Clermont Foot 63, Grenoble Foot 38 (football). ASM Clermont, Lyon OU, FC Grenoble, Stade Aurillacois, US Oyonnax (rugby union), ASVEL Villeurbanne (basketball), Chambéry (handball), Brûleurs de loup Grenoble, Pionniers de Chamonix (ice hockey)
Competitions: women's football world cup, ski competitions (critérium de la Première neige in Val d'Isère), Tour de France passes, Critérium du Dauphiné.
Economy: (8e European region) high-tech industries, automotive (Berliet), metallurgy, rubber, plastics, chemicals, electronics, food processing, textiles, digital, banks, universities, administrations, viticulture. tyres (Michelin). Design. New technologies (Inovallée) Winter and summer tourism. 
Festivals: Fête des Lumières in Lyon, Nuits de Fourvière in Lyon, quais du polar in Lyon, biennale du design in Saint-Etienne, classical music festival in La Chaise-Dieu
Tourist sites: old Lyon and Croix-Rousse, Puy-en-Velay cathedral, Lake Annecy, Chambéry castle, winter sports in Isère, Savoie and Haute-Savoie, Cantal, thermal resorts, Auvergne volcanoes. Caverne du Pont d'Arc. Castle of Grignan. Bastille of Grenoble. Vulcania. Parc des Oiseaux.
Websites and social networks:


Population: 862,000
Prefecture : Annecy
Sub-prefectures: Bonneville, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Thonon-les-Bains.
Number of municipalities: 279
Area: 4,388 km2
Specialities: AOC/AOP cheeses: Reblochon, Abondance, Tomme, Tome des Bauges, Beaufort, Chevrotin, Emmental of Savoy, Raclette. Savoie AOC wines, Ayze, Royal Seyssel, Roussette de Savoie. Other labels: Berthoud (STG), Savoy appels and pears (IGP). Specialities and traditional dishes: Génépi, Crozets, Tartiflette, perch fillets (lake fish), diots, blueberry pie, Savoyard fondue, potato fritters, honey, bidoyon (artisanal cider), gentian. 
Sports clubs: headquarters of the French ski federation. Football Club Annecy, GFA Rumilly Vallières (football). Thonon Evian Grand Genève Football Club. FCS Rumilly (rugby union). US Annecy Rugby. Black Panthers of Thonon-les-Bains (American football). Annecy CSAV Handball. Annemasse Basket Club. Chamonix Elite Hockey Club "Les Pionniers". Pays du Mont Blanc Hockey Club. Haute-Savoie Nordic Team
Competitions and major events: Kandahar-World Cup Alpine Skiing (Chamonix Mont Blanc Les Houches). Greenweez Maxi-Race (Annecy). Alps Bike Festival (La Clusaz). Mountain Bike World Cup (Les Gets). Climbing World Cup (Chamonix Mont Blanc). Megève international show-jumping. Evian Championship (golf). Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc (Chamonix). Biathlon World Cup (Le Grand Bornand). Telemark World Cup (Samoëns and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains). High'Five Festival (Annecy). Rock the pistes (Portes du Soleil). Critérium du Dauphiné. Ski mountaineering World Cup (Flaine). Grande Odysée Savoie-Mont-Blanc. Tour de l'Avenir. Tour des Pays de Savoie
Heritage: Lake Geneva, Mont Blanc and Aiguille du Midi, Lake Annecy. Castle of the Sires of Bonneville. Castle of Clermont. Plateau des Glières (national necropolis). Montenvers train (Mer de Glace) and Mont Blanc tramway. Castle of Ripaille. Aravis pass. Village of Flottins. Pont des Amours (Annecy). Father Christmas' hamlet. Annecy Castle. Quail Bridge. Basilica of the Visitation. La Tournette. Col de la Forclaz. Abbey of Abondance. Cachat bar of Evian waters. Castles of Allinges. Baroque chapels of St-Gervais. Aulps Abbey. Thermal baths of St-Gervais Interpretation centre of the contraband in the mountains
Festivals: International Animation Film Festival (Annecy). Montjoux festival. Guitare en Scène (Annecy). Nomade Reggae Festival. Rock'n'Poche. Megève International Jazz Festival. Pleins Feux Festival. Village des Flottins. Morzine Harley Days. Musilac Mont-Blanc. Radio Meuh Circus Festival. Mont-Blanc Humour. Paradisio Annecy. Les Grandes Médiévales in Andilly
Main tourist sites: Lake Annecy, Annecy Castle, Mont Blanc and the Sea of Ice, Aravis, winter sports resorts of Chamonix, Saint-Gervais, Megève, Les Gets, Morzine and Avoriaz.
Economy: watchmaking (Cluses), screw-cutting, mechanics (Dassault, Alcatel), agriculture and agri-food (Reblochon milk production, tome, Evian water), mountain tourism, sports industry (Dynastar, Salomon, Mavic). Outdoor Sport Valley Cluster, for the economic development of the outdoor sector. Major facilities (Rochexpo, etc.)
Websites, etc.  / / /    

Rich in heritage, extraordinary landscapes, quality agriculture and culinary specialities, Haute-Savoie is an attractive department with an established quality of life. It is thanks to the diversity of its territory that Haute-Savoie is able to make the most of it: mountain landscapes, exceptional lakes, dynamic valleys, etc. From the north to the south of the department, inhabitants and visitors alike benefit from and enjoy a remarkable living environment. 

Haute-Savoie is a true cycling region and since 1947 has provided 21 Tour de France stage towns and 30 of its mountain passes have been ridden by the Tour.

Since 2021, the Haute-Savoie Departmental Council has implemented a genuine policy in favour of cycling. Whether it is in supporting the projects of its 279 communes through the "Savoir rouler" operation set up for schoolchildren or thanks to the hosting of numerous cycling events, Haute-Savoie is fully committed to the practice of cycling.

Km 2.5


Contamine-sur-Arve is the seat of a former priory affiliated to the Abbey of Cluny, which housed the burials of the Sires of Faucigny. It is also the seat of one of the largest hospitals in the region. It was in this hospital that poet and pioneer of the New Novel Michel Butor died in 2016. 

Villy Castle
Construction: 11th, 18th and 19th centuries.
History: the lower part of the tower is said to have been built in 1084 by Bishop Guy de Faucigny. In 1721, the Marquis de Sales had the south-western part of the tower built on top of the hovels built in the 16th century. Claude-François Vuy, syndic of Contamine, had major repairs carried out by masons from Val Sésia in 1791. Emile Périllat, of Contamine origin, having made his fortune in Paris, acquired the estate in 1896. He rebuilt the castle, raised it by one floor, restored the facades, embellished it with large windows and installed luxurious flats with stylish fireplaces, added the terrace, the stoop and a round turret leaning against the keep.
Current use: after having hosted holiday centres for the Villefranche-sur-Saône town council, the castle has become a municipal property which hosts sports associations and local events. In poor condition, it is being renovated, but its park can be visited.

Km 10.6


The locality is renowned for its millstone quarries, which constitute one of the main extraction sites for grain millstones in Europe. This site, which has been exploited since Roman times and reached its peak in the 13th century, has been listed as a historical monument since 2009.

Km 13.1


The granary (grain market), used until 1853 and housing grain measures, has been listed as a historical monument since 1993. The organ of the church of Saint-Maurice, given to Boëge by Napoleon III at the time of the attachment of Savoy to France, is also listed (1977).  

Km 25.7


Avully Castle
Construction: 14th century.
Style: medieval fortified house.
History: the castle was built on the former site of a Roman villa. Shortly before 1310, a family from Avully, vassal of the Faucigny family, is mentioned. By marriage, the house fell to the de Boëge family in the 15th century. In 1499, it was sold to Boniface de Saint-Michel, a citizen of Geneva. In 1536, the Saint-Michel d'Avully family converted to Protestantism, but abjured their faith sixty years later. In the mid-18th century, the de Sales family bought the castle. The restoration of the castle, abandoned since 1896, was undertaken by Jean and Yvonne Guyon.
Characteristics: Avully, with its unobstructed view of Lake Geneva, is a typical example of 13th century fortified houses, adapted over the years to the evolution of artillery. Today, it takes the form of a quadrangular enclosure 26 m wide and 34 m long, surrounded by a moat.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1974. Picturesque site of Haute-Savoie.

Km 27.8


Fessy Museum
The Museum of Regional Art and Folklore of Fessy has one of the most important collections in France devoted to the world of peasants. It was assembled by a peasant-artist from the village, Bernard Lacroix, in a 17th century house built by the Carthusian monks of Bellevaux. The collection now belongs to the Departmental Council, the buildings to the commune and the Museam association manages its operation.

Km 35.3


Col de Cou has been ridden five times by the Tour de France since 1969, but had not been used by the Grande Boucle since 1984.  

Km 52.7


Col du Feu, tackled for the first time by the Tour de France, is 6-km long, with an average gradient of 7.5 pc. From the summit, the view of Lake Geneva is breathtaking.

Km 62.4


Church of Our Lady of the Assumption
Foundation: built in the 14th century.
Style: Sardinian neo-classical.
History: built on the site of a primitive church from the 12th century.
Characteristics: the composite and eclectic architecture has strong neoclassical elements, namely three naves separated by massive quadrangular pillars surmounted by cornices, on which rest the double arches of the vault.

Km 78.2


The town, located near the imposing Môle (1,863 m), is dominated by the Beauregard castle, inhabited since the 13th century by the La Fléchère family.  

Beauregard Castle
Construction: 13th to 20th century
Style: medieval, renaissance, modern.
Characteristics: it takes the form of a flanked enclosure surrounding a fortified house. The original function of the castle was to defend the town of Saint-Jeoire-en-Faucigny. At the time, it was a simple rectangular keep which still constitutes the main body of the castle today.
History: the history of the castle, closely linked to that of the de La Fléchère family, has been very eventful. Burned and looted several times, notably by Geneva's troops or during the French Revolution, its interior had to be completely rebuilt on several occasions, although the walls remained in place. The castle remained in the La Fléchère de Beauregard family until 2004, i.e. for eight centuries.
Current destination: offered in 2004 to the diocese of Annecy, which entrusted it to a charismatic religious community of Franciscan inspiration, the Eucharistein Fraternity, in 2008.

Km 86.5


As the gateway to the Giffre mountains, its mountains and cliffs make Mieussy the ideal spot for climbing and paragliding. Mid-mountain agriculture gives the village its charm: Reblochon and Tomme de Savoie cheese are produced here.  

Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais Church
Construction: 15th century.
Style: Gothic.
History: Built in the late Gothic style. The nave and the choir each have two bays. The portal is dated 1535. It has a bulbous belfry supported by a turret with canted sides. One of its four bronze bells, dated 1559 and named "La Gervaise", was recast in the 16th century as an identical bell and in 1946 by the Paccard foundry.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1926 (bell since 1906).

Km 101.6


It has been ridden three times by the Tour de France since 2003 (Richard Virenque) and 2016, when Thomas de Gendt reached the top in the front. In 2010, Lance Armstrong had one of his rare failures in the mountains on this pass.

Km 110.9


Ville-étape pour la première fois
Station de montagne de Haute-Savoie (74)
Population : 1 230 hab. (Gê
Spécialités : fondue, raclette, polenta, croziflette, farcement, Abondance (fromage). Tomme et saveur des Gets.
Personnalités : Danielle Debernard (double médaillée olympique de ski alpin), Nicolas Anthonioz (ski alpin), Deborah Anthonioz (snowboard)
Sport : ski, parapente, parc aquatique Wibit. Pass’Portes du Soleil VTT (plus grand rassemblement de VTT en montagne).
Événements : championnats du monde de VTT 2022. Crankworx (slopestyle), La Grande Odyssée (chiens de traîneau).
Économie : tourisme, ski, agriculture.
Festivals : Festival international de musique mécanique. Lounge Music Festival. Rock the Pistes. Montreux Comedy fait du ski.
Labels : commune touristique. Famille Plus Montagne. Station village de charme. Station grands domaines. Montagne douce. Ville à vélo du Tour de France (3 vélos)
Sites web / FB / Twitter / Insta : /


Km 117.5


The Mélan charterhouse (13th century) is now a cultural centre and exhibition centre. Also worth mentioning is the church's carillon.

Km 127.1


The beautiful alpine botanical garden La Jaÿsinia, created for Marie-Louise Cognacq-Jaÿ, a native of Samoëns and founder of the Samaritaine department stores in Paris, is worth a visit. The presence of some of the deepest chasms in the world makes Samoëns a Mecca for caving. The Clos Parchet Farm, dating from 1815, is a listed building and houses an eco-museum.  

Alpine Botanical Garden La Jaÿsinia
Established: 1906.
History: it is located in the heart of the city, on a sunny hillside at the top of which are the ruins of the Montanier castle, demolished in 1476. It was created by Marie-Louise Jaÿ, founder of the Samaritaine department stores in Paris, on the spot where, as a child, she used to graze her goats. The work to develop these grassy and rocky slopes by architect Jules Allemand, who is also responsible for the rock gardens of the Ariana Park in Geneva, took two years to complete, between 1905 and 1906. Marie-Louise Jaÿ offered this garden to her native town in 1906. In 1936, the scientific direction of La Jaÿsinia was entrusted to the National Museum of Natural History, which created a botanical laboratory with a herbarium: the GRIFEM (Research and Information Group on Mountain Ecosystems), where numerous research projects were carried out.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 2016. Remarkable garden.

Km 139.8

From Samoëns, it is reached after an ascent of 11.7 km with an average gradient of 8.5 pc. It is classified as a non-category climb. It has been ridden 11 times on the Tour de France since 1978 and has seen climbers such as Peter Winnen, Angel Arroyo, Thierry Claveyrolat, Marco Pantani or Richard Virenque reach the summit in the lead, always before a descent to Morzine. The Critérium du Dauphiné has also tackled Joux-Plane four times, the last time in 2021, with Mark Padun winning the stage.

The Alps offer much more than just skiing opportunities. With picturesque villages, sprawling greenery and waterfronts - this area of France is an appealing destination all year round. On the border with Switzerland, towns like Annemasse also provide the perfect base for exploring Lake Geneva.
Of course, there's plenty for those arriving in search of snow - after all, this is home to the famous Mont Blanc. Popular ski resorts include Morzine and Courchevel, where you'll find an array of winter sports as well as charming Alpine chalets and plenty of apres-ski.
Meanwhile, the colourful towns between the peaks come to life when spring flowers bloom in window boxes and sunlight reflects off the water of lakes and canals. Take a boat trip, swim or try paddleboarding. You'll even find beautiful beaches dotted around the shorelines.

Top places to visit in the French Alps:

1. Annemasse
2. Morzine
3. Courchevel
4. Annecy
5. Yvoire


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