Your suggested itinerary in Rhone-Alpes
Visit the Art et Informatique Exhibit in Grenoble

There are frequent flights to Lyon from Paris and other French and European cities. Lyon in just two hours from Paris by TGV, and four hours by car on the A6 Autoroute de Soleil.

There are regular flights from Paris to Chamonix, and good train service and roads throughout the region. If you are driving, relax for slow, hilly, winding roads, with spectacular views to compensate.

Summers are hot, even in the Alpes. There is snow in Savoie and Vercors from Christmas to Easter (with luck). Spring and autumn are usually best for sightseeing.

In La Dombes, fishing, cycling, and bird-watching in the Parc des Oiseaux. Lake Geneva and Lake Annecy offer swimming, sailing, waterskiing. In the Alpes there are all winter sports, including some of the best downhill skiing in the world; and in summer mountaineering, trekking, rock climbing and trout fishing. The Drôme Provençale is a hiker's paradise, and the Ardêche offers canoeing, kayaking and caving for the adventurous.

Lyon and the Beaujolais excel in gastronomic simplicity: delicious salads, hot sausage with potatoes, onion soup. Try the lesser known Coteaux de Lyonnais red wines, as well as the fancier Chiroubles, Morgon and Fleurie. In La Dombes there is pike in quenelles de brochet and the famous Bresse chicken. Savoie specialties include raclette and fondue; Reblochon, Tomme and Abondance cheeses; cured hams and sausages; and freshwater. Savoie white wines are dry and fruity; reds are dark and vigorous.

Royans is known for its ravioli. The Drôme Provençale offers asparagus, guineafowl, truffles, olives, and Picodon cheese washed down with a light red Coteaux de Tricastin. The Ardêche has sturdier fare: turkey with chestnuts, partridge with cabbage, very good with a local Chardonnay.

A few lesser known favorites. Lyon: the Hôtel de Gadagne, the history of Lyon and marionettes; Pérouges: Maison des Princes, old textile machinery; Charlieu: Musée de la Soierie, silk; Le Poët-Laval: Protestantism and the Wars of Religion; Vogüé: superb private château.

Don't miss the big-city treats: the Old Town of Annecy, Italian paintings at Chambéry, Impressionists and Modern Art at Grenoble, the Fabric Museum in Lyon, the spa towns of Evian and Aix-les-Bains.

There are country markets at Samoëns (Wed), Beaufort (Wed), Albertville (Thur), St-Paul-les-Trois-Châteaux (Tues). You'll find Chartreuse liqueur and hand-embroidered Alpine sweaters in Talloires; nougat, honey and lavender essence almost everywhere in the Drôme Provençale. Don't miss the Musical Encounters of Evian in May.

Bring proper walking shoes, not just tennis shoes. Fill up with gas before heading into the mountains, where service stations can be scarce. Check on opening and closing times, they tend to be erratic. Village churches, mountain chapels and other small treasures may be closed-the local Syndicat d'Initiative, tourist office, or café-tabac may have the key.