Where Is French Alps?

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| By : Christine
I’m a retired 65 years old and I live in western Paris. Born in Alsace, I have always lived in this beautiful region of eastern France. Passionate about travel, culture and literature. Find me on Linkedin.

In my memories, the first time I went to the Alps was with my ski club in the Vosges.

I must have been 6 or 7, and we went for 8 days to a small ski resort in the Vanoise valley.

Since then, I’ve been back to these beautiful mountains many times in summer and winter.

What a pleasure to help you discover this region of France that is so special to me!

Where is French Alps in some quick Questions/Answers, straight to the point !


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Where Is French Alps ? My complete answer

1. In which country is French Alps?

The French Alps are located in France.

They are part of the larger Alpine mountain range that also extends into Switzerland, Italy, and Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Monaco, and Slovenia.

They are a popular destination for outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and mountaineering.

The French Alps are located in the southeastern part of France in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur and Rhône-Alpes Régions.


The geographical limits of the French Alps can be broadly described as follows:

  • Northern Limit: The northern edge of the French Alps borders the Jura Mountains and Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), beyond which lie Switzerland and the Swiss Alps.
  • Southern Limit: The southern boundary is generally considered to be the River Durance and the gap known as the Col de la Bonette, after which the landscape transitions into the Maritime Alps and eventually the French Riviera.
  • Western Limit: To the west, the French Alps are bounded by the Rhône River valley and the Massif Central. The city of Grenoble often serves as a western gateway to the region.
  • Eastern Limit: The eastern boundary is the national border between France and Italy, with the Italian Alps on the other side.
  • Internal Divisions: Within these broad boundaries, the French Alps are often divided into various subranges, like the Dauphiné Alps, Savoy Alps, and Provence Alps, each with their own specific geographic boundaries.

2. Is the Alps in France or Switzerland?

The Alps are a mountain range that extends across multiple countries, including France and Switzerland.

The French Alps are famous for ski resorts like Chamonix and Grenoble, while the Swiss Alps are home to iconic peaks like the Matterhorn.

3. What city is closest to the french Alps?

Grenoble is often cited as the “Capital of the Alps” due to its proximity to the mountain range.

But the city closest to the French Alps depends on which part of the Alpine range you’re referring to.

Located in southeastern France, Grenoble is surrounded by mountains and is a major hub for those heading to various ski resorts and outdoor activities in the French Alps.

Other notable cities near the French Alps include:

  • Chambéry: Also in close proximity to the Alps and serves as a gateway to several ski resorts.
  • Annecy: Known for its beautiful lake and proximity to mountainous areas.
  • Nice: While not immediately adjacent, it’s relatively close to the Maritime Alps and is a significant city in the broader region.

Each of these cities offers different access points to the French Alps and its various attractions.

An evening view of lac d’annecy

4. What is special about the French Alps?

I think The French Alps are special for a multitude of reasons.

I try to resume them in few words:

  • Natural Beauty,
  • Outdoor Activities like skiing, snowboarding, hiking, climbing, paragliding, and mountain biking,
  • Tourist facilities in many ski-resorts,
  • Historical significance (fortified town of Briançon, Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde UNESCO World Heritage Sites)
  • Culinary Delights,
  • Cultural Heritage (influences from both France and Italy, reflected in architecture, language, and traditions)
  • Mont Blanc (Western Europe’s highest peak)
  • Accessibility (Well-connected by road and rail)
  • Four Seasons (winter sports, spring blooms, summer hiking, beautiful autumn foliage)

A famous French Alps dish: the “tartiflette”

5. How Far Is The french Alps From Paris?

  • Grenoble: About 575 km (357 miles) southeast of Paris. By car, the journey takes around 6-7 hours. By high-speed train (TGV), the travel time is around 3 hours.
  • Chamonix: Approximately 610 km (379 miles) from Paris. The drive usually takes about 6-7 hours. The nearest major train station is in Annecy, followed by a 2-hour drive or local train to Chamonix.
  • Annecy: Roughly 560 km (348 miles) from Paris. By car, the trip takes about 6 hours. By train, it can be as quick as 3.5 to 4 hours.
  • Albertville: Around 600 km (372 miles) from Paris. A car journey takes about 6 hours, and by train, it’s around 3.5 to 4 hours.

French Alps Map


The French Alps In Details

  • Area: Approximately 35,000 km²

For comparison, it’s roughly equivalent to half the U.S. state of Indiana.

  • Part of 2 Regions: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur
  • 6 Departments: Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Isère, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes
  • Population: below around 4 millions in the 6 departments. But the population in the french alps (a part of these 6 departments) is estimated around 2,5 millions.


Population of 3 departments in the region Provence-Alpes-Côtes-d’Azur: Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Alpes-de-Hautes-Provence.


1 403 466

Source : Insee, population censuses in 2020


Population of 3 departments In the region Auvergne-Rhônes-Alpes: Isère, Savoie, Haute-Savoie


2 552 469

Source : Insee, population censuses in 2020

INSEE, which stands for “Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques” is the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies in France. It is the French government’s official statistical agency.

  • Major Cities: Grenoble (often considered the “Capital of the Alps”), Chamonix, Annecy, Gap, Albertville, Aix-les-Bains
  • Top Things to Do in the French Alps: Skiing or snowboarding in Chamonix or Les Trois Vallées, hiking around Mont Blanc, paragliding in Annecy, enjoying thermal spas in Aix-les-Bains, visiting Ecrins National Park, exploring the medieval town of Briançon, taking the Aiguille du Midi cable car…
French Alps are perfect for outdoor activities in Winter
  • Local Dishes: Raclette, Tartiflette, Fondue Savoyarde, Diots (Savoyard sausages), Gratin Dauphinois (potato casserole), Crozets (small square-shaped pasta), Chartreuse (herbal liqueur), Genepi (alpine herbal liquor)…

French Alps Weather :

  • General Climate: The French Alps experience an alpine climate, characterized by cold winters and mild summers.
  • Climate Influences: The region is primarily influenced by Mediterranean and continental air masses, resulting in variations in weather patterns depending on elevation and location.
  • Precipitation: Snowfall is abundant in winter, especially at higher altitudes. Rainfall is common in the summer months, with occasional thunderstorms.
  • Temperature Range: The temperature range can be quite broad, especially between the valleys and higher altitudes. Temperatures are cooler as you move upward in elevation.

Winter in the French Alps

Winter is characterized by cold temperatures, heavy snowfall, and icy conditions.

The presence of continental and polar air masses contributes to the frigid climate, perfect for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding.

Summer in the French Alps

Summer is generally mild in the valleys and cooler at higher altitudes.

Thanks to the influence of Mediterranean air masses, the region experiences warm, sunny days, ideal for hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities.

Lots of summer activities in the French Alps too

Seasonality of precipitation (rain)

Umbrothermal diagram and temperatures in Chamonix – source: climate-data.org

The Ultimate Guide To Visit French Alps

Are you planning a trip in the French Alps ?

Please read all our tour guides about the French Alps, a wonderful region of France with a lot of things to do :


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