• The Mer de Glace, near Chamonix

French Alps

The Savoie region grows Europe's highest mountains and is the top floor of the French Alps, with drop-dead spectacular scenery. More than just a pretty-peaked face, stubborn Savoie maintained its independence from France until 1860, when mountains became targets, rather than obstacles, for travelers. Today's Savoie is France's mountain-sports capital, featuring 15,771-foot Mont Blanc as its centerpiece. Boasting wood chalets overflowing with geraniums and cheese fondue in every restaurant, Savoie feels more Swiss than French.