Copenhagen to Geneva: Exquisite Architecture and Epicurean Delights - Page 3
|The Real Magic Castle: Loire, France (Photodisc)|
Day 8: Onzain to Vichy (180 Miles)
Next, drive south through the Massif Central, France's huge central plateau of ancient granite, which divides the southern half of the country. The area's dormant volcanoes are criss-crossed by deep gorges and rivers and dotted by hot and cold springs. The restorative waters of spa towns like Vichy have been pilgrimage spots since the Roman era. Stay opposite the Callou Baths in the well-priced Le Pavillon d'Enghien (32, rue Callou; +33.4.7098.3330; www.pavillondenghien.com).
Day 9: Vichy to Lyon (100 Miles)
To the east at the confluence of the Saone and Rhone rivers, Lyon was founded 2,000 years ago by the Romans. In the foothills of the Alps and near the vast hunting marshlands of the Dombes, the agricultural plain of Bresse, and the wine-producing Beaujolais region, the city is strategically located for soaking up the culinary influences. As a result, Lyon is the undisputed gastronomical capital of France. The restaurants alone make Lyon worth a visit. Try Le Bouchon aux Vins (+33.4.7210.1112; www.leondelyon.com) for regional dishes like rabbit and its superb wine list.
Day 10: Lyon to Geneva (95 Miles)
Cross the border to Switzerland, but don't forget to drop into Megeve and Chamonix on the way to Geneva. The 15,770-foot Mont Blanc lords over this part of the Alps, but you don't have to kill yourself hiking it to enjoy the views. Take a ride up on the tram and walk back down instead. Several guiding services in Chamonix also offer ice climbing on the mountain's glaciers. Call the local crew of mountain experts at Alpine Guides (+44.79.4040.7533; www.alpine-guides.com) for guided hikes and climbs. Finish the trip in Geneva with a bike ride along the Lake Geneva (Lac Leman to the French) on the idyllic Promenade du Lac to the gigantic Jet d'Eau, the iconic symbol of Geneva. This monster fountain shoots a plume of water 460 feet in the air, and at any one time, an unbelievable seven tons of water are in the air. Walking out the long pier to get soaked in the spray is a summertime ritual. And if you can, time your arrival in Geneva for some time in early August for the ten-day Geneva Festival (www.fetes-de-geneve.ch) celebrating Switzerland's founding, and see fireworks and concerts at the lake's edge. For nighttime forays, cut a rug at the Griffin's Club (36, bd Helvetique; +220.127.116.115.1218), an ultra-chic club with the requisite fashion models on display.