Even non-skiers are familiar with the name of Chamonix in the department of Haute-Savoie, the famous winter sports resort and site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924. Nearby, close to the Italian border, looms the highest mountain in Europe - Mont Blanc - at 4,800m. Discover its history at Musee Alpin in Chamonix. This wonderland of dazzling snowfields in the French Alps is home to other important resorts such as Avoriaz and Megeve known as the ‘St Tropez of the Alps’.
Winter visitors to Haute-Savoie will find every kind of mountain pastime from organised ice climbing sessions and telemark at Chamonix, to snowboarding at Morzine, and snow shoe walking along winter trails. Many resorts offer shopping and a lively nightlife. In summer some resorts such as Chamonix offer golf and tennis and mountaineers take over the Alpine passes which reveal a trekkers’ paradise of foothills rich with fauna and flora, pine forests, and blue lakes and mountain streams for swimming and canoeing.
Enjoy elegant Evian-les-Bains on the shores of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman to the French), renowned for its mineral water and spa treatments. Accompany French commuters across the Lake to Switzerland and the city of Geneva with its famous lakefront and United Nations offices. Don’t miss Annecy, sometimes known as the Venice of the Mountains due to its lakeside position and picture postcard canals.
Festivals and events take place here all year such as, most importantly in this traditional dairy farming area, the Transhumance - where livestock are paraded down from their summer pastures.