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Chamonix is both a narrow valley at the foot of Mont Blanc and a lively alpine town with a wide variety of restaurants, bars and shops. It advertises itself as the 'world centre of mountaineering and off-piste skiing'. It is also a major European centre for hiking, mountain-biking, paragliding and most other outdoor sports. It is just 15 minutes from the borders with Switzerland and, using the Mont Blanc tunnel, with Italy.
Grenoble, the major city in the French Alps, hosted the 1968 Winter Olympics and attracts students from around the world. It has a rich cultural heritage but also enjoys a very high-tech profile in the computer and micro-chip industries.
Lyon, a 2000 years old city is second only to Paris. Its excellent facilities include splendid museums, a first class university, delightful old buildings and elegant shopping quarter. There is much to enjoy in Lyon, including sampling some of is gastronomic delights.
St. Etienne is an industrial city, but has a very livelycultural life. Amongst its many museums is the superb Museum ofModern Art, whilst younger visitors will enjoy a trip to thePlanetarium. With its large open spaces and plenty of sunshine, St.Etienne is a modern city which has not forgotten its past.