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Surprises in the French Alps

There are so many surprises in the French Alps it hard to know where to start. The Rhone-Alps is a former region of southeast France bordering Switzerland and Italy.

Its Massif Central mountains and dramatic canyons carved by the Ardèche River are popular for hiking and rafting. Rafting in the Rhone river with a few rapids here and there is exhilarating and absolutely worthwhile. As you roam through the hills and the mountain tracks, you find little villages on the way with beautiful food and wine. 

The air is clean and filled with the promise of adventures unexplored tracks and views that are sensational, that engage all the senses. Yes, the Rhone alps are full of surprises but also kicks off the pungent sense of adventure. 

You can walk on ancient Historic Roman Roads in the Alps, visit the Gothic Royal de Brou monastery has ornate royal tombs with marble statues. You have to experience it to get the essence of the alps truly.

Where were you in March of 2020?

In the Rhone-Alps! I am happy to say. I am not sure where you were, but I was sure glad to be here. I am sure you all have a story or two to tell about the year 2020, but I am pleased to be able to have this opportunity to explore the Rhone-Alps and meet its good people. However, I never imagined that handshakes and kissing would be a thing of the past as it is so huge in this culture. When it comes to Culture this, the French are big on gatherings and friendships.

Imagine this…

It’s March 2020, and you arrived in the little town of Yenne after taking a Bla Bla car from the centre of France in a small village of Blet.

Bla Bla Car, if you are not aware is a way to travel long distances for very very low prices in private cars which are registered drivers, you can hitch a ride via an app. One of my favourite ways to travel around Europe for next to nothing. As is Flix bus. Anyway, back to the story…

Imagine you had been doing some work for the Castle in Blet (also another nomad stay) in exchange for a room in the castle ( through an app called “World Packers”. Then you travel 5  hours and arrived in Chambery, where you met your partner who had travelled from Marseille. After March, BlaBla was not permitted. I hope it continues as it is Frances only Unicorn startup and very successful for the past 15 years. I digress…

You check in to a gite in the mountains then go to the nearest town to a restaurant, to have a nice meal. When the place floods with people as Macron (French President) had just announced the first Lockdown for 2020. The town comes for its last Hurrah before lockdown. 

Lucky you!  the next 2 months was COVID 19 Lockdown in a 400-year-old farmhouse now a very cosy gite, lucky enough to arrive in the Rhone-Alps and be in Lockdown for 2 months. I am not complaining.

So, you like everyone we speak with asking us, what are you doing in France, you don’t speak French and why come to this off the beaten track part of the world. Let me explain…

Our story

We are Australian, and we bought our startup Nomad Stays to France with the French Tech Visa.

Why? Is a question we get asked a lot; because Europe let alone France is the biggest tourism place in the world, and that is our business Tourism.  We help digital nomads and the new style of slow travellers to find affordable month by month or weekly rates for people who want to explore more while travelling the world and building a business and working from anywhere.

So we are here in France amongst it all.

Then COVID 19 hit.

Unexpected Business Growth

Sitting in the Rhone-Alps building our online booking platform for Digital nomads is possible while in lockdown in the Rhone-Alps.  Giving us plenty of good knuckle downtime to build out the tech. 

While some tourism businesses failed, our business has grown because of COVID 19, contrary to what you may think!

Interestingly before COVID 19, we had been trying to tell regional hotels and apart-hotels that there is a minimum of 3-4 million people travelling the world as full-time travellers. And we want to help you fill your rooms with these people called digital nomads and remote workers. Some understood others not so interested. That is ok.

Today there are still people travelling while the world full time and finding new opportunity to explore not just the Rhone-Alps, but within the countries, they are exploring. Along with about one million digital nomads in France alone, the numbers have grown since.

COVID 19 taught the world that working from anywhere is not just possible; it’s mandatory. And doing business while they travel is new normal.

Now because of COVID 19, everyone knows and sees this thing called the “remote worker” otherwise known as the digital nomad that can work from anywhere as a possible choice of lifestyle not just an Instagram photo of young kids sitting by the pool on a gap year pretending to work. It’s a real thing. 

We are digital nomads based in the Rhone-Alps because our business incubator Le Village is based in the Technolac on Lac du Bourget about 30 mins from Yenne.  Our team of remote workers are spread out around the world, in Russia, Serbia, Asia, USA, Germany and UK. 

Back to Exploring the Alps…

It is charming exploring the Alps, to say the least, and superb to have all of its magnificence around us.

Formally a regional of south-east France bordering Switzerland and Italy. These dramatic canyons and spectacular mountains now make the Auvergne Rhone-Alps.

The Central Massif has been carved out by the Ardeche River creating the most spectacular Canyons. These canyons and gorges are popular with Kyacker, Paragliders, rock-climbers and adventure-seeking hikers from all around the world. Serious hikers where you can walk from Geneva’s financial centre to the home of to the city of Lyon, the capital city of Frances Auvergne Rhone-Alps region.

Home to some of the best hikes in the world the Rhone-Alps.  With 4452 hiking routes all around the Alps, 71 Pilgrim walks, and more are waiting to be explored. Some of the best Long distance hikes can go up to 160km, and here we list some of the best.

Adventures In The Rhone Alps and Rivers.

  1. HIKE There are hikes all over the alps some of the best hikes in the world, where you can spend a few weeks hiking from Geneva to Lyon and exploring other adventures on the way staying in small villages like or gites on the path. There is no end to the possibility. The best part is that you can walk from gite to gite.
  2.  BIKE You can spend a few weeks biking through the Rhone-Alps there are plenty of challenges on-road and off-road
  3. CLIMBING Renowned for some of the best climbing in the world for its deep canyons and gorges with indoor climbing for rainy days.
  4. KAYAK The Rhone River has some beautiful kayaking and canoeing and Rowing.
  5. HISTORY Just a glance at the gorges suggest ancient history. Then there are the ruins of the old Roman Roads while exploring the Rhone-Alps. The villages and the waterfall all speak a story of history. You will experience a rich cultural heritage, which includes art and heritage sites and the most beautiful villages. All oozing historic stories waiting and ready to be discovered and share its symbolic beauty, tragedy and reality of life as it was and the essence of what it is today.
  6. FOOD & WINE Culinary seasonal delights. The love for the french tastes is well known around the world, but when you experience it first hand, it seems more intense and special. The French are experts for cheese and wine, and you will certainly experience that on your adventures. If you find yourself passing through the small town of Yenne situated on the Rhone River, make sure to visit the cheese factory and stock up on cheese with their 24/7 cheese vending Machine!! With the best Tommy cheese, you have ever tasted from a company that has been in business for over 100 years. Then on the other side of the Rhone, make sure to visit Chateau du Lucy along with the rest of the vineyards that surround the area. 
  7. DIVING Yes, one of the most dived areas in France. Surprise! There is great diving in Lac du Bourget is a lake located at the southern end of the Jura massif, in the Savoie department. It is the deepest lake, located entirely in France. Made famous by several romantic poets an Alphonse de Lamartine, including Le Lac, amounts others. As well as one of the most dived spots in France for it’s World War II Nazi plane you can dive on.
  8. PARAGLIDEThe area of Aix La Bains is very popular with Paragliders around the world and a wonderful sensation to fly above this blue lake which is surrounded by several mountain ranges unique experience that you should definitely have on the list of must-do.
  9. SKI & BOARD There are in Valmorel and 5 other resorts in the area.
  10. CHILL OUT taste wines of Savoie and fine food chill by the fireplace in you a gite in amounts nature and listen to nature.
WILDLIFE

Random surprise, well it was for me.  A local told me there are wolves in the mountains but in saying this you don’t see them often or ever. But you may hear them. A local told me the other day that about 400 sheep a year are taken from farmers per year by the wolves. Just thought I would throw that little titbit. 

#workfromanywhere

Where to next?

I hope you enjoy and come and experience the natural surprises you will discover for yourself in the Rhone-Alps, now that you can work from anywhere, where to next? For us, we are basing our self here in the Savoie for a little bit, but we still need to travel to see our stays and be present for our stay hosts. Remember we are here to help you travel and explore more off the beaten track places while building a meaningful business so let us help you. 

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