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The Massif des Bauges Regional Nature Park lies between Chambéry, Aix-les-Bains, Annecy and Albertville, is listed as UNESCO World Heritage and was made a Geopark in 2011. Take a big gulp of mountain air all year round, just 20 minutes from the towns and cities. It’s a land of local tradition where the Tome des Bauges AOP cheese is made.
Cœur des Bauges is home to 14 traditional villages: Aillon le Jeune, Aillon le Vieux, Arith, Bellecombe en Bauges, Le Châtelard, La Compôte, Doucy en Bauges, Ecole, Jarsy, Lescheraines, La Motte en Bauges, Le Noyer, Saint François de Sales, Sainte Reine. They all capture the local heritage with traditional architecture that adds to Bauges’ cultural wealth. The elders used the natural resources around them to build (wood, stone). They were inventive enough to adapt their buildings to suit their requirements.
There are lots of little barns in the leafy meadows. Farmers would store hay away from the villages in these small buildings in the middle of hay fields. One theory for them being so far from the village is to avoid the hay catching fire and setting the village alight.
Other examples of local architecture stand proud and include the bygone storefronts (which once flourished) in Saint-François-de Sales and the colourful houses in Le Châtelard. A signature Bauges feature is the famous “tavalans”: balconies under the overhangs on barn roofs to dry wood for heating and cooking.
Every village and roadside has its chapels, washhouses and bread ovens. Get out there and visit places like the church in École-en-Bauges with a 16th century pietà or the one at Jarsy Church (known among locals as Bauges Cathedral). You can see examples of local heritage in the great outdoors too with stone enclosures standing in the Arclusaz mountain pasture.
The Bauges Mountains are a UNESCO Geopoark due to the 54 geosites identified here.
The regional nature park is home to outstanding flora and fauna and stands out for its incredible underground and aquatic heritage: Prérouge Cave (gateway to the deepest caving network in Savoie) and Pont du Diable Canyon (a canyoning must-do in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) are just a couple of its treasures. You’ll be caught in the magical landscapes between views of Le Revard and Pissieu Waterfall.
Some sites are easy to reach whilst others require a guide or specific skills. Find them on the Geosites interactive map (in french).
Cœur des Bauges, the beating heart of the region all year round! The Bauges Mountains are heaven for hikers, horse riders and mountain bikers in summer. Climbing, canyoning, via ferrata, treetop adventure, paragliding, archery, tubing, astronomy, fat bike and so much more to spice up your stay!
The Bauges are dusted with snow in winter to set the scene for your holidays. Aillons-Margériaz and La Féclaz – Le Revard are two family-friendly resorts that are the perfect places to learn or practise skiing (Nordic and downhill) with a whole host of exciting things to do: biathlon, snowshoeing, dog sledding, skijoring, sledding etc.
What with the terraces and natural pools in Chéran (approved by Rivières Sauvages for its white water Le Nant d’Aillon river since 2019), Annecy Lake and Bourget Lake (within 30 minutes of central Bauges) and all the other mountain lakes, this is the place to unleash your inner water baby!
The Iles du Chéran leisure base, its turquoise water and incredible setting are ideal for trying your hand at water sports (wakeboarding, swimming by lakeside beaches, water slides, paddling pool, bungee jumping, SUP etc.).
The Bauges Mountains are famous for their fish too. This is fishing heaven with lakes for white fish, lakes for predatory fish and category 1 rivers for trout.
Sport, walks, hikes… and relaxation! Explore the Bauges your way with its traditional villages and outstanding sites: Pont du Diable (Devil’s Bridge), Pont de l’Abîme (Bridge of the Abyss)… and its events.
Drink in the views from belvederes that you can drive to: Le Revard and Le Semnoz are just a few sights for sore eyes without the sore muscles! Just soak up the carefree lifestyle.
A stroll is your chance to visit local artisans: potters, leatherworkers, sculptors, ceramic artists and more. Make sure you visit the Magnes hamlet to meet Jean-Paul in Saint-François-de-Sales to learn about his traditional craft: Bauges ‘silverware’, a type of traditional handicraft made from turned wood which is named after the bright white sycamore wood used to make it!
Food lovers adore the Bauges Mountains. Local cheese specialities include Tome des Bauges AOP (PDO), Chevrotin, Valbleu, Montpela, Margériaz, Saint-Bruno and Béret.
Whether it be cow’s or goat’s cheese, sample them at the cheese shops or visit the farms where they’re made.
Try the herbal tea, wine and spirits made using medicinal plants and herbs, not forgetting chocolate from Bellecombe en Bauges or Lescheraines as well as organic bread and pastries from the bakeries.