Rhone Alps, shares borders with Switzerland and Italy and can boast some of the most breath taking scenery in all of France. This region is the meeting point of northern and southern Europe and it contains a wealth of economic, historical and cultural treasures. The region is very diverse partly because of it’s sheer size and geographical features. The Massif central to the west, the River Rhone making it’s way from the Swiss mountains to the Mediterranean and on the eastern flank, and the beautiful Alps, all help to make this region one of the most unique of all the French regions.
Rhone alps is the second largest region in France, about the size of Belgium with a population of a little over 5 million people. The area holds some the best ski slopes in France, the centres at Megeve, Chamonix, Avoriaz are all well known as produce much quality skiing each year.
Holiday home ownership is also on the increase in the region although, you may find it a little expensive the closer to the alps you wish to buy. That said, there are still some absolute bargains to be found and apart from the staggering beauty, this region has much to recommend it. There are plenty of outdoor pursuits including, water rafting, canoeing, climbing, hiking, cycling not to mention the skiing of course.
Climatically, this region can be described as a typical continental region, the summers can be very hot and the winters are very cold, there are however some variations within the region, for example, the further south you go, the more Mediterranean the winters become and they are lucky not to experience the extreme cold found elsewhere. To the east of the Massif central and west of the alps, the summers are a little cooler and these areas attract many retired people or French holiday home owners who prefer to keep out of the extreme temperatures.
This is very much a happening area in France and in recent years there have been some large population growths especially around Lyon and Grenoble which have done much to attract new hi tech industries in to the area. Lyon has now established itself and Frances second city, in fact it’s population has trebled in the last 20 years and it is also the epicentre of French cooking.
The department of Ain is located towards the north of the region and is an area of sharply contrasting landscapes and many picturesque villages in which a number of British people have bought and insured holiday homes. The river Ain cuts through the region and this helps to make a fairly fertile plain which is perfect for agriculture. There are a number of vineyards in the region producing some quality wines. Towards the east of the district, the Jura mountains starts and these attract a good deal of climbers and hikers each year. Further up, Gex is a well known ski resort.
Ardeche is perhaps a little more diverse than most and is lucky to have a wonderful landscape of hills and deep valleys. There are plenty of outdoor pursuits in this department as well. Towards the north of the department, the land is very green and fertile and the weather a little cooler. If you do decide to buy a holiday home in Ardeche, you will find that the southern part of the region has warmer weather and their are more opportunities for out door activities. Around the capital of Privas, await many small but very pretty villages and in recent years, these have attracted many holiday home owners.
Drome has a population of around 500,000 people and enjoys hot summers but the winters are a little cold, it’s also a very windy region and in many of the months snow is still visible on the mountain tops. Out door pursuits are popular in this region as well and agriculture plays a big part in the local economy. Despite this, Drome is also known for it’s strong industrial output and there is a a fair amount of manufacturing carried out. Economically, this is a fairly prosperous region which to a certain extent is reflected in the property prices.
If ever a department could be described as diverse then it isere, this department has some of the tallest peaks in the French alps, juxtaposed next to some of the most beautiful plains, forests and lakes. This is one of the most important and oldest wine growing regions of France and it is well known for producing some beautiful full bodied reds. The capital of the department Grenoble has some great transport links and this has helped grow in the last few years. It has great facilities and is a place that people want to live and work. If you buy a Holiday Home in this area you will be able to benefit from the budget air flights that serve the region. The airport situated at Grenoble has brought a fairly large number of second home owners in to the region and this has pushed house prices up although there are still plenty of bargains to be had.
Loire is a historic and well known department which is crossed by the Loire river from north to south. The fertile plains located at Forez and Roanne are two of the most important agricultural districts in France. Many holiday home owners are attracted to this region at the present moment, it is home to nearly 800,000 people.
The capital of the department of Rhone is Lyon and this is one of the most happening cities in France, it is growing at a rapid pace and is a great place to live and work. Many hi tech business are relocating to the city which is world famous for it’s quality French cuisine. Good agricultural land is in abundance in the region and a variety of crops are grown, the area is most famous for it’s production of the Beaujolais wine.
The department of Savoie is located in the alps and shares many characteristics with it’s neighbours. Famous for it’s ski resorts, there is not a good deal of holiday home ownership in the region with the bulk of the activities revolving around skiing.
Haute Savoi is also bordered by Switzerland and Italy. This area contains Mont-Blanc, Lake Annecy and of course Lake Geneva. The landscape is wild, rugged and very beautiful. Haute Savoie also has wonderful ski resorts with ski villages such as Morzine & Avoriaz in the domain Portes du Soleil shared with Switzerland. These villages provide world-class skiing facilities but also a relaxing time in a wonderful landscape during the summer where walking and hiking are very popular.
If you decide that this is the region in which to buy your retirement of holiday home, you will have the benefit of cheap airline flights. Many airline fly regionally from the UK to either Lyon or Grenoble and this is one of the factors why this area has seen property price increases in recent years. The importance of good quality transport links cannot be over empathise, especially if you want to accept rental bookings for your property.
Guide to Rhone Alps, France. Departments
74 Haute Savoie
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