If adventure is what you’re craving, you won’t find a better home base in France than Lyon. Offering access to beautiful parks and reserves, scenic lakes, winding rivers, and snow peaked mountains all within a few hours’ drive, it’s a solid option for tackling the natural world no matter what time of year you plan to visit (and that’s not even taking into consideration all that there is to discover within the city itself).
For those whose idea of getting into the outdoors consists of hiking, biking, camping or horseback riding, Lyon’s got you covered. To the south and east, the often overlooked Bauges Mountains, Parc du Pilat and Chartreuse Park provide stunning scenery, rugged trails, caves and waterfalls (Cirque de St. Meme), giving visitors a natural alpine experience without hordes of other English speaking travelers. Venture westward, and the rolling hills and woodlands of Livradois-Forez and Auvergne reward your trek with the panoramic pastoral beauty of central France. Want to get out on the water? You’ve got plenty of options there too, ranging from the tranquil and water sport friendly Lake Geneva to the frigid rapids of the Isere River.
And speaking of Isere, the world renowned skiing and boarding at both Val d’Isere and Mont Blanc are just a 2 hour drive away from Lyon, solidifying its role as the major urban gateway to France’s premier downhill destinations. Couple all this with a vibrant urban center and a bourgeoning population inching closer to 1 million residents and you’ve got yourself a world class adventure destination and a fantastic reason to check out east-central France.