AttractionsHaute-Savoie (French Alps)
The department of Haute-Savoie in the French Alps lives up to its name. Haute means upper in French and Haute-Savoie shares the highest mountain summit in Western Europe and the Alps - the Mont Blanc (view from the Aiguille du Midi). The Aiguille du Midi is accessed via the Téléphérique de l'Aiguille du Midi and has access to the world's highest sky-walk.
As Haute-Savoie is in the French Alps it is along with its sister department Savoie home to the largest ski area in the world, with an almost unlimited number of ski resorts to choose from. The short list of ski resorts is Avoriaz, Chamonix, La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, Les Contamines - Montjoie, Les Gets, Les Houches and Megève. Chamonix was home to the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924.
Even if skiing isn’t your thing, there is still a lot to do in Haute-Savoie. Of course being in the Alps there are hiking trails and other outdoor actives for all levels and family members. A great summer activity for kids of all ages is summer luge, Bob-luge d'été in French. Many ski resorts have summer luge tracks. Not only is there summer luge for the non ski months but as with most departments in France there are lots of festivals. Even in small villages, for example the village of Evires has a yearly American West gala - Evires City in late July.
There are also two unique train rides you can do, the Montenvers and the Tramway du Mont Blanc. Both take you way up into the mountains next to the Mont Blanc. The Montenvers ends at the Mer de Glace glacier. It’s possible to walk into the glacier.
Haute-Savoie also boasts the ‘Venice of the Alps’ Annecy and its lake – Lake Annecy, with water so clean that the city uses it for drinking. Nearby Annecy you can visit the Gorges du Fier. Haute-Savoie in addition shares Lake Geneva (or as locales like to say Lac Léman) with its Swiss neighbors to the north. It’s always better to say Lac Léman to locales!
Along the cost of Lake Geneva you will find Yvoire one of the loveliest villages in Haute-Savoie and Evian. Yes, that Evian where the bottled water comes from. Also near Geneva you will find the Genevois. The Swiss-French cross boarder region that surrounds the City of Geneva and offers the best view of Geneva.
Not far from Geneva you will find the town of La Roche sur Foron, reported home to the first street lighting in Europe with a medieval town center that overlooks the Arve Valley and a yearly Bluegrass festival. Also within driving distance of Geneva and La Roche sur Foron is the Plateau of Glieres. The Plateau of Glieres was the site of a WWII battle between Free French forces and German/Vichy troops.
Haute-Savoie isn’t just about tourism as the Arve Valley is home to a manufacturing center that specializes in the production of precision parts for the automobile industry. Haute-Savoie has a long and rich history but was one of the last departments to be added to mainland France. What is now Haute-Savoie became part of France in 1860 along with the department of Savoie and Nice as part of the Treaty of Turin.
Grands Montets: Cable Car used by skiers and hikers.
Château de Montrottier: Medieval castle near Annecy.
Thônes: Capital of the Aravis Mountain Range and Reblochon cheese.
Parc de Merlet: Small animal park near Chamonix.
Évires City: Yearly country and western fair.
Fête des Vieux Métiers: Old Trades Fair takes place yearly in Cornier.
Les Gorges du Pont du Diable: Devil's Bridge Gorge located near Morzine and Lake Geneva in the French Alps.
Not in Haute-Savoie but a nearby local event in Geneva - Expat Expo. See a short video from the 2011 Expat Expo.