Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Road Trips

Best French Alps Road Trip Itinerary: Annecy to Chamonix


Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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The French Alps is an incredible region of amazing landscapes, fairytale towns, and natural wonders perfect for nature lovers. The French Alps is a popular destination during the ski season, but anyone yet to visit the French Alps in summer is certainly missing out.

Are you planning a trip to the French Alps in the summer? This French Alps road trip from Annecy to Chamonix covers the French department of Haute-Savoie and allows you to experience the most iconic places in the region behind the wheels. This road trip through the French Alps is an ideal self-drive vacation for those who love sightseeing, nature, and good food.

This 7-day French Alps road trip itinerary is one of the best road trips in France. Read more about road tripping in France:

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Road Trip French Alps – Overview

If you are looking for pretty mountain villages, gorgeous nature, and scenic drives in France, consider this French Alps road trip itinerary from Annecy that lasts 7 days.

  • Start: Annecy
  • Finish: Chamonix
  • Duration: 7 days
  • Suggested Route: Annecy – Yvoire – Avoriaz – Samoëns – Chamonix
  • Total distance: 308 km, 6hrs 10min drive in total
  • Regions covered: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
  • Best for:  landscapes, small towns, hiking, outdoor sports

Map of the French Alps Road Trip

Map of French Alps road trip made with Google My Maps

Click here to view this Map of the French Alps Road Trip on Google

7-Day French Alps Road Trip Itinerary

This road trip French Alps takes you over 308km through one of the most beautiful regions of France. Pass green meadows, deep blue lakes, mountain passes, and bustling villages.

For this French Alps road trip, you don’t need the car until you leave Annecy. If you need to hire a car, wait until then to pick up your rental car in Annecy.

We recommend booking your car with Discover Cars. This site is great because it takes all major rental companies, such as Hertz, Avis, and more, and compares prices for you. Check out our best tips for renting a car in France.

Click here to rent a car in Annecy

Day 0 | Arrival at Annecy

The starting point of this itinerary is Annecy, where we recommend spending two days exploring this Alpine city and its surroundings.  

For your stay in Annecy, book a room at the beautiful Black Bass Hotel, a lovely property located by the lake just out of Annecy and with free public parking available on site. The hotel has comfortable and stylish rooms, a pool, and beautiful grounds with lake views.

Click here to book your stay at Black Bass Hotel

Day 1 | Annecy

Fairytale Annecy is one of the most beautiful cities in France and a must on any trip to the French Alps in the summer. Located by the lake of the same name, Annecy has many historical and natural highlights. Annecy is also an excellent place to enjoy great regional food and wines.

Above all, Annecy is known for its Old Town, which is particularly beautiful to discover. The first day of this itinerary necessarily involves a walk around its medieval city center, with narrow winding streets and colorful architecture. During your walk, don’t miss the Palais de l’Isle (the symbol of Annecy), the 16th- century Cathédrale de Saint-Pierre, and the imposing Château d’Annecy.

Often nicknamed the Little Venice of the Alps, the canals of Annecy offer great viewpoints of the city. Take the time to look for the prettiest canals, always full of flowers, for some perfect postcard pictures.

For more ideas for your stay in Annecy and places to eat, check out this Annecy itinerary.

Day 2 | Lake Annecy

The second day in Annecy is used to exploring the lake’s surroundings. If you love biking, there are 42 km of cycle paths for your delight. You can decide to do the lake’s full tour to explore the lake’s small towns or spend a lazy day at one of the beaches.

We did a combination of both and found in Plage du Château the perfect spot for a picnic on the grass and a bath with a view. The castle in the background is Château de Duingt, built on a small peninsula.

Day 3 | Yvoire

Yvoire - French Alps

Day 3 of this French Alps road trip takes you north to the lovely Yvoire. This picturesque village located on the French shore of the Lac Léman (Lac Genève for the Swiss) is listed as one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France.

For your stay in Yvoire, book one night at Villa Cécile. This property is located a mere 6-min walk to the lake, offers chick and cozy rooms, and has a swimming pool and a spa. The on-site restaurant overlooks the lake and serves traditional cuisine and local wines.

Click here to book your stay at Villa Cécile

Yvoire is one of the prettiest medieval towns in France, with over 700 years of history, and we are sure you will enjoy visiting its ramparts, medieval castle, fortified gates, and cobbled streets.

Don’t miss the Jardin des Cinq Sens, in the heart of the village, listed as a remarkable garden by the Ministry of Culture. The Old Town also has many pretty shops to buy souvenirs and regional products. In the afternoon, enjoy a drink or dinner on one of the terraces by the lake.

Not far from there, Plage d’Excenevex is a natural sand beach with shallow waters that welcomes beach huts and beach volleyball all summer long. Here, you will have your feet in the warm sand and your eyes on the Alpine peaks… the place is unique!

Day 4 | Avoriaz

From Yvoire, take road D1005 then road D902 to Avoriaz. This is a 61 Km drive that takes around 1hr 10 minutes.

Avoriaz is one of the best ski resorts in the French Alps, born from the audacity and dream of a local man from Morzine, the town below. Read the story below:

Jean Vuarnet was an outstanding skier and Olympic champion from Morzine. After skiing all over the world, Morzine wanted to keep him in the village to develop a new ski resort.

Jean Vuarnet then set himself the challenge of creating an ideal ski resort from scratch, high up in the mountains, where the snow is exceptional, and the panoramas are grandiose.

He had to convince bankers to help him carry out this risky bet, as this was a hostile and inaccessible area in winter. The team attracted ambitious and avant-garde young architects, Jacques Labro in the lead, to build a station with innovative and contemporary architecture, a ‘snow metropolis’ far from the traditional Savoyard style, but integrated into the landscape and the context of the mountain.

The first modest ski station opened its doors in 1967 with a hotel (the Hôtel des Dromonts) and a few slopes. Over the years, the station grew from bottom to top with new areas and facilities with a unique result.

Its originality has never ceased to be debated. Avoriaz, you love it or you hate it, but you can’t remain indifferent! Avoriaz still remains modern and avant-garde. In 2003, it even received the label Great Achievement of the Twentieth century.

Day 4 explores Avoriaz and its surroundings. There’s no snow in Avoriaz in the summer, but plenty of fun activities to keep you busy for a while: hiking, canyoning, rafting, paragliding, kayaking, golf, and yoga.

For your stay in Avoriaz, we can only recommend the iconic Hotel des Dromonts, the heart of that former ski station. Since its construction, the hotel has been renovated but still keeps its sixties atmosphere, excellent service, and all the comforts of today for a cozy stay. Book two nights.

Click here to book your stay in Hotel des Dromonts

Day 5 | Samoëns – Cirque Fer à Cheval

Day 5 of this French Alps road trip itinerary visits Samoëns – Cirque Fer à Cheval on a day trip from Avoriaz.

Day Hike at Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval

The Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval is the largest mountain cirque in the Alps. Lying at the eastern end of the Giffre Valley, the Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval forms an immense amphitheater almost 5 km across and bounded by 500- to 700-m high limestone cliffs. The Cirque is breathtakingly beautiful throughout the year, but it is most spectacular in the spring when melting snow swells its waterfalls to majestic proportions. There are more than 30 waterfalls in Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval!

The Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval is part of a nature reserve, and it is not uncommon to discover, clinging to the vertiginous cliffs, several ibexes and marmots.

To explore this wonderful area, we recommend this easy hike (9,3km round trip, 3 hrs 30 min) which starts from Fer-à-Cheval’s car park (GPS Coordinates (WGS 84) of the Starting Point: 46.077278, 6.836917). Pic de Tenneverge (2989 m) and Tour du Prazon (2929 m) dominate the landscape during the greater part of the itinerary.

Or Visit Samoëns

Samoëns - French Alps

If you prefer a more tranquil day, visit Samoëns, a lovely mountain village renowned for its traditional stone masonry-based architecture. The village resort offers a wide range of activities on land, water, or in the air, all in an absolutely superb setting.

Don’t miss the former indoor market and the Gros Tilleul (ancient linden tree) which still bear witness to an ancient past. Notre Dame de l’Assomption Church is a wonder and the best example of the village’s renowned stone cutters. 

Not too far away, the Jaÿsinia Alpine Botanical Garden is an invitation to relax and unwind while exploring a natural treasure right at the heart of the village.

Day 6 | Avoriaz to Chamonix

Day 6 of this road trip French Alps takes you to Chamonix, one of the French Alps’ prettiest towns and the most popular. To get there, you will take your time: the journey is as beautiful as the final destination.

From Avoriaz, take the road D902, then the D1205 direction to Chamonix. On the way, there are three lovely villages great for a break to stretch your legs and some sightseeing.

Morning in Combloux or Cordon

Don’t miss these two farming villages, well-known for their incredible views over the iconic Mont Blanc and superb baroque architecture.

Nicknamed ‘the Pearl of the Alps,Combloux enjoys an enviable position facing Mont Blanc, which takes shape between the Aiguille de Bionassay and the Aiguille du Midi.

As soon as the mountain pastures turn green, Combloux is the starting point for many beautiful hikes. The warmer seasons are also a good opportunity to enjoy local festivals and discover the Combloran heritage, the Slope Museum, and the Granite trail. In the summer, a dip in the Plan d’Eau Biotope is a must. This ecological pool, where water is filtered by 10,000 aquatic plants, is one of the most beautiful in France with the eternal snow in the background.

Cordon is another charming village on the way to Chamonix. With a superb location facing the iconic summit, Cordon is nicknamed ‘the Balcony of Montblanc’. Cordon is a place to relax and admire its beautiful architecture and unspoiled nature.

With its 89 bread ovens, bread and quality local food, in general, is a serious matter. Do not miss the walk to the Abérieux Farm to taste their traditional cow cheese.

Afternoon Saint Gervais-les-Bains

Saint Gervais is a great stop for today’s lunch break and more sightseeing. Located at 850 meters, and surrounded by 4,000-meter peaks, including Mont Blanc (4,810 meters), Saint Gervais-les-Bains has a definite alpine feel. Its name comes from the town’s 39C natural spring waters, converted today into a world-class spa.

St Gervais boasts three major tourist attractions: the Tramway du Mont Blanc, taking visitors up to the Glacier de Bionnassay (2,372m); the Bettex/Mont d’Arbois cablecar, which offers stunning views over Mont Blanc and several good walking options; and the above mentioned Thermes du Mont Blanc.

In addition, St Gervais has a number of good restaurants (including a 1-Michelin starred restaurant), cozy cafes, trendy bars, and quality food shops, being a great place to relax, soak up the mountain air and enjoy the best French produce.

Today, the journey ends at Chamonix, which really needs no introduction. For your stay in Chamonix, book two nights at Auberge du Manoir. This lovely property with a convenient location has comfortable rooms, a bar, private parking, a garden, and a terrace. If possible, book a room with a balcony-mountain view.

Click here to book your stay at Auberge du Manoir

Day 7 | Chamonix

The last stop of this French Alps road trip is Chamonix. Chamonix is a world-known ski resort that first became famous in 1924 for hosting the Winter Olympics. Nestled in the Arve Valley at the foot of Mont-Blanc, Chamonix comprises 16 charming villages and hamlets, including Argentière, Le Tour, and Montroc.

Here, the natural scenery, so picturesque under the snow, is equally beautiful in the summer and best explored by following one of the surrounding trails.

Chamonix’s main tourist attraction is l’Aiguille du Midi, which is easy to visit by cable car (30 min) from the center of the town. You can also take Chamonix’s Montenvers railway train through forests, tunnels, and viaducts to the famous Mer de Glace glacier (1,913m), the largest glacier in France.

Other fun activities in Chamonix are the Ice Cave, the summer luge (Chamonix roller coaster in the mountains!), or a stroll along the town’s pretty alleys lined up with shops and galleries.

If you have more days available, you can extend your stay in Chamonix or drive to Grenoble and then down to the coast following the Napoléon Route.

So what are you waiting for? Book this road trip from Annecy to Chamonix in the French Alps today!

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