Hello, We will be in France for 3 weeks this July, and I wanted to see if anyone had any advice on what towns to visit in the Alps. We want to keep it in France (instead of going to Switzerland) since it is more efficient to travel by train using the country's great train system. We will be coming from Nice and will spend only two nights in the Alps. Any advice on where to stay, what trains to take, etc. would be most helpful. Thank you!
Lucia, can't help on the transportation, but probably a train to Lyon, and then on to Chamonix/Mt. Blanc. Try to get your hands on a Rick Steves GB, he discusses Chamonix and Annecy in good detail. Your Hotel can possibly make reservations for Mt. Blanc; on a clear day, this will rival any location in Switzerland. Good luck!
"it would be more efficient to travel by train using the country's great train system." The problem is that trains do not go straight north into the French alps from Nice. They detour through Marseille and Lyon. You can get to Grenoble in 6 hours with one change (Lyon) that way. That is probably one of the easiest places to reach, but I don't know that it is really "in" the Alps as it is a pretty large city.. Other places higher in the Alps, like Courchevel and Chamonix take over 8 hours from Nice. You could also consider Aosta in the Italian Alps, 7 to 7.5 hours away via Torino.
As Lola already mentioned, the "great train system" is good for getting from major city to major city, but isn't so great for getting into the Alps. I'd suggest looking at a city like Annecy or Grenoble, as you'll need to find a hotel that will rent a room for only two nights in the peak month of July. A lot of rentals that time of year are weekly only.
It's difficult to get from Nice to Chamonix/Annecy by public transport, but you can go from Nice to smaller towns in the southern Alps like Dignes-les-Bains more easily.