Things to See and Do in the Rhône-Alpes

Things to See and Do in the Rhône-Alpes

Unmissable events for your diary, sites to explore, plus art, sports and culture

Related article: Beyond the Mountains in the Rhône-Alpes


The Traboules of Lyon

Lyon has more than 500 covered passageways, galleries, courtyards and staircases that create a network beneath and through many of the city’s oldest buildings. Some 40 of these traboules are open to the public. Meet your guide from the tourist office at the Avenue Adolphe Max exit to Vieux-Lyon métro station. €12.

Musée gallo-romain de Saint-Romain-en-Gal

The archaeological museum and site of Saint-Romain-en-Gal, 30km south of Lyon, stands on what was once the residential and commercial centre of one of the wealthiest cities in Roman Gaul. Only discovered, by accident, in 1967, this is one of the most important Roman sites in France.

Institut Lumière

Lyon’s tribute to the Lumière brothers, the cinematography pioneers who lived and worked in the city, offers a cinema, a museum and a library dedicated to the art of film.

Caverne du Pont d’Arc

This replica of the Grotte Chauvet, the famous prehistoric art cave, only opened in 2015 but has already become one of the best tourist attractions in Rhône-Alpes.

Saint-Étienne has a state-of-the-art planetarium that is the envy of all France

Saint-Étienne’s many museums

Saint-Étienne is engaged in a vast programme of urban renovation and boasts a number of excellent museums, including: the Musée d’Art et d’Industrie, the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, the Planétarium de Saint-Étienne, the Musée du Vieux St-Étienne, the Musée de la Mine, and the Site Le Corbusier in nearby Firminy.


Institut Paul Bocuse: Established by the world-famous Lyonnais chef, this is a professional school that also runs courses for amateurs.

For less formal tuition, try Délicieusement Vôtre, which even offers courses for children.

In 2019, La Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie will open in Lyon’s Grand Hôtel-Dieu, offering culinary exhibitions, demonstrations, workshops and tastings, as well as a restaurant, café and shop.

Love your digestifs? Then you really ought to tour the Chartreuse cellar in Voiron, home to the famous green liqueur originally distilled by Carthusian monks. Tastings at the end, of course.

Sit in a Citroën 2CV and you can’t help feeling like a local. One tour company, Les Deuches du Lac, offers Rhône-Alpes wine and food tours in 2CVs. Chauffeurs are provided, which is just as well as the tours include trips around the vineyards and restaurants of Savoie.

The Grotte de Saint-Marcel is a network of underground caverns, galleries, pools and waterfalls in southern Ardèche. Winemakers keep their product here, and offer tastings, which means you can sip wine while admiring the cave’s subterranean wonders.

The region is famous for its wine and excellent cheese


This Drôme town is home to the famous nougat. The tourist office recommends tours of both artisanal and industrial factories. It all depends on how much you plan to consume.


It’s not every day you get the chance to visit a nuclear power facility. There are a handful of these along the river Rhône which offer public tours on certain days. Try the Centrale Nucléaire du Tricastin in Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, or the Centre Nucléaire de Saint-Alban/ Saint-Maurice in Saint-Maurice-l’Exil. Protective suits are, fortunately, not obligatory.


Just south of Villars-les-Dombes, in the middle of the hundreds of lakes of La Dombes, is a great bird park. Open April 8 to November 12.


Right on the river Rhône, just north of Valence, is the pretty town of Tain-l’Hermitage. Between April and  September, for €6, you can tour the town and its vineyards on a motorised train, Le Petit Train des Vignes de l’Hermitage.

Culinary legend Paul Bocuse


Every November, the good denizens of Beaujeu, a village near Villefranche-sur-Saône, celebrate Beaujolais nouveau by downing industrial quantities of the stuff at their festival, the Sarmentelles de Beaujeu.

Late winter is truffle time in the Drôme département. Join in the fungal fun in early February at the Fête de la Truffe in Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux.

Even more aromatic is the Fête du Reblochon cheese festival in the Savoie ski resort of La Clusaz. There’s even folk dancing.

In October, the city of Grenoble hosts Le Millésime, a two-week festival of wine and music. Drink local vintages and dance the nights away.

Talking of dancing, in May, Lyon hosts a major festival dedicated to electronic music: Les Nuits Sonores. Next year’s roster of performers includes Air, Stormzy, Laurent Garnier, and the Chemical Brothers.

Every December in Lyon, there’s the Fête des Lumières, when light artists illuminate the city’s buildings, streets, squares and parks to quite glorious effect. There are lots of film screenings across the city, too.

Lyon also hosts two alternating biennial festivals. On even-numbered years it’s the Biennale de la Danse (in September) while on odd- numbered years it’s the Biennale d’Art Contemporain (September to January). Hundreds of thousands of people attend each event.

From France Today magazine

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