I wanted to see the Alps so I arbitrarily picked a town off the map... Tignes, France. What seemed like about a 3 hr drive from Lyon. It was centrally located in the heart of the French Alps near the ski town, Val d'Isère - home of legendary alpine skier, Jean-Claude Killy.
The trip took way longer than we expected, driving almost 5 hrs, never completely sure where we were on the map, we stopped for dinner at a restaurant with a mountain view just as it got dark. After eating a spartan diet for weeks if not months, my dinner of fried fish was incredible. Finger-sized pieces of boneless perch. My dad got a huge meaty cheesy pizza... didn't look so good to me.
We finally got to Tignes around midnight or so in a thick fog. Driving through tunnels and mountains, we were deprived of the scenery in the dark. The Montana Hotel apparently has many hostels and apartments for skiers that were closed for the season and when arriving, the GPS was not real accurate and we were trying doors that were not open. Was worried we would not find a bed for the night. Finally, we found the hotel proper and checked in. I booked an extra large room, actually a room with two sections, one large bed for the adults and a set of bunks for kids. Of course my dad took the big bed and was very happy with the accommodations ... and that we even made it at all. I was very happy with the hotel and our room.
The next day, the view of the nearby ski hill from our large sliding door was awesome ... but that was just a tiny foothill among the giant Alps. We checked out the hotel breakfast, which unlike other places, was complimentary... it was awesome. Great bread, super bean to cup coffee, pastries, potatoes, eggs, everything. Dad approved.
We set out to explore and stopped at cafes and made it all the way into Italy over a mountain pass. I managed to find some apple pastries, and enjoyed a caprese salad with french fires and a beer. It was pretty idyllic. Interesting to see the farmers and their sheep, the ancient looking stone barns with stone roofs. The only problem was that dad is acrophobic and found the mountain roads unsettling. On the way back he just put his seat back so he wouldn't get scared.
This place was awesome. I decided I needed to cancel my next night reservation in Paris despite the fact that I'd be charged, to stay another day and night in Tignes. It was that awesome. The next day, more exploring and a ride up the ski gondola which was free.
Driving back to Lyon to return the car, the GPS led us onto a beautiful small road in the mountains. Turned out it was closed for paving. Wasted a lot of time, but it was a nice drive. Somewhere I got a speeding ticket, by automated devise, a camera. They sent me the ticket at home in the US... couldn't read it, it was in French. Oh well.
I definitely want to return to Tignes. It's a hiker and mountain bikers paradise.