This is an exciting bike tour along the Rhone River that France-Bike, your partner for high quality bike vacation in France has created for you. When conjuring up images of the Rhone valley, the first thing that comes to mind is that of lush green vineyards nestled into rolling hills, secretive Alpine forests on the banks of crystal clear mirror lakes, small traditional French villages with the scent of fresh local cheeses and wines and stories of bandits hidden amongst the fortified castle walls. However, it's not just an imaginary image, this is the Rhone. Whilst leisurely gliding beside the river at your own relaxed pace, you will have the time to be engulfed in nature and deafened by the silence against the incredible backdrop of the Alps, enjoying it all on quiet, easy-going cycle lines. The river itself is the most important part of the area as it not only provides the environment's lushness that will take your breath away, but is historically important for tradesmen. Vincent Van Gogh even took the time to paint it. You will also enjoy many family activities on your cycle trip, as you meet local farmers and wine producers, visit the beautiful and important castles, churches and caves, and learn about the local history from the Bronze Age to Roman ruins, from the Dukes of Savoy to local bandits and highwaymen, before taking part in water sports, or picnicking on the river banks. Activities perfect for you and your family. In the evenings you will enjoy a peaceful meal of only the juiciest, plumpest local produce. The accommodation is just as special, traditional cozy French character whose proud patrons passionately work with the environment to support their valley in staying green. Something you will also be contributing to on your pollution-free bicycles. As you daydream along the beautiful green and colorful floral surroundings, you will hardly believe that such a beautiful part of France is harmoniously nestled between the two dynamic and innovative cities of Geneva and Lyon where you will begin and end your trip. Both cities are modern and exciting and bursting with culture and history and you wander the fascinating old quarters.
Day 1: Arrival in Geneva
After checking into your hotel, you may spend your first day strolling around the beautiful Geneva Lake, one of the largest lakes in Western Europe with incredible surrounding scenery. Despite being a lively and one of the most important European cities, Geneva can also offer you an afternoon of tranquility in its Botanical Gardens, renowned for its botanical conservation. Stroll through the rock gardens and greenhouses which house species from all over the world before taking a sunset cruise on the lake.
Day 2: Geneva - Seyssel, ~62 km/38 miles
During breakfast, you will be met by our guide at your hotel, at 9am, who will brief you on your itinerary and give you all the necessary equipment for your trip. The highlights of your route include cycling along the infamous Rhone River, admiring the heart-warming views over the charming wine-making villages of Dardagny and Satigny, and frolicking around intimidating forts. Conquer the westernmost point of Switzerland by bike at the village of Chancy and then cross the border into France. Unmissable here is the Fort de l’Ecluse, founded by a Duke of Savoy, which is an elevated fort, built out of a striking rock formation and a natural entrance of the Rhone Valley into France between the Vauche hills and the Jura. Your home for the night is in Seyssel, a small “double-town” in both the Haut-Savoie (Upper Savoy) and the Ain departments on the Rhone River located between two dams.
Day 3: Seyssel - Champagneux, ~57 or 76 km/35 or 48 miles
En route to your daily destination, you can enjoy lunch by the Canal de Savieres in the chocolate-box village of Chanaz, nicknamed the Little Venice of Savoie, or you can enjoy a short cruise along the canal, ending up at the Lac du Bourget, France's largest and deepest lake surrounded by mountains, before heading back to Chanaz and continuing on your trip. Finally, you will arrive in Belley, a Roman town where you can try its famous homemade cheeses with names that sound as lush as the forests.
Day 4: Champagneux - Pérouges, ~68 km/42 miles
Make a stop in the village of Saint Genix sur Guiers, where you can discover the legend of the bandit Captain Louis Mandrin, the French version Robin Hood, who waged war on the unpopular Farmers General tax collectors and gained support from the local people in the region. Then you ride on to the small community of Balme-les-Grottes, with its fantastic underground grottoes where you will be enchanted by the site which has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The caves were used as a sacrificial altar and later made into a chapel by Francois I. You will find a lake, several pools, rock formations, a 35 meter high porch and a dinosaur exhibition. You will later visit the historically rich village of Vertrieu and see its 12th Century fortified house, and imagine that you too, were one of its guardsmen watching the boatmen bringing stone along the river to Lyon. You will also visit the stunning 18th Century castle settled on the banks of the Rhone.
Day 5: Pérouges - Lyon, ~42 or 59 km/26 or 37 miles
After your final day of cycling, you will finish your trip in the great city of Lyon, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1998, once famed for silk weaving. Here you can stop at the Parc de la Tete d'Or (The Golden Head Park), which is France's largest urban park and whose zoo you can visit. Later, take the cable car ride up to visit the Notre-Dame de Fourviere basilica on the hill, with spectacular views of the city. Then walk down to see the medieval cathedral and thriving old town.
Day 6: Departure from Lyon or extra nights
Individual departure after breakfast. There are many trains from Lyon back to Geneva.
5 nights in carefully chosen 3*** and 2** hotels and chambre d'hotes
5x tourist tax
3x dinner (3 course menu)
luggage transport from Geneva to Lyon
welcome briefing in the first hotel
detailed road book and maps
GPS on request
self-guided tour - 6 days / 5 nights
arrival every Sunday
route (2): ~230-265 km/145-165 miles
flat and sometimes hilly
how to get there
by car: motorway to Geneva
by train: station Geneva
by plane: airport Geneva
individual departure from Lyon, rental bike return transport 20 €/bike and 30 €/e-bike
some of our bike tour suggestions