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France Bicycle Tour: Geneva to Lyon on the Via Rhôna
The “Via Rhona” project is a bicycle path connecting Lake Léman (Geneva) to France’s Mediterranean beaches. The project is still a “work in progress,” but it is a huge accomplishment for France — and an incredible boon for the people who love France (and French Switzerland, of course). If you’re dreaming of la bonne vie but are short on time, this 6-day cycling itinerary is the perfect fit! This tour runs from Geneva, Switzerland to Lyon in France.
- CategoryFor Families
- Duration6 days
- Culture LevelFamiliar
- Skill Level2 - Novice
- Activity Level2 - Moderate
- Elevation2 - Moderate
- Distance125.5 miles
- Avg. Daily Distance31.4 miles
- Day 1Arrival in Geneva
Geneva is easily accessible by car, train, and air — many low-cost carriers stop at the city’s manageable sized airport. You’ll arrive in a cultured and cosmopolitan city with more than enough attractions to fill a day, so you can check in to your hotel in the heart of the city, then head on out to explore. Whether you want to stroll around the city’s beautiful botanical gardens, go shopping for world-famous watches, chocolates, and Swiss knives, or set sail on sparkling Lake Geneva, it’s up to you.
- Hotel Jade or similar, Geneva
- Day 2Geneva — Seyssel
You will be fitted with your bike and given your itinerary briefing after breakfast, so you’ll be ready to jump on your bikes and ride! This is the toughest day of cycling during the whole tour; with rolling hills, you’ll climb your highest ascent — but the good news is you’ll get to enjoy plenty of downhill riding (nearly 800 meters/2624ft)! The route itself winds its way southwest, across the Swiss border at Chancy into the picturesque wine region of Rhône-Alpes, France, where you will spend the remainder of your tour. There are plenty of reasons to stop along the way: stunning panoramas, striking rock formations, and intriguing ruins, to name a few. Your hotel in Seyssel sits right on the river, providing the perfect spot to give your biking legs a rest.
- 38.5 miles
- 2,545.9 ft
- Hotel Beau Sejour or similar, Seyssel
- Day 3Seyssel — Champagneux (Long Option: 76 km/47 miles, 772 meters/2,533 ft of climbing; Short option: 56 km/35 miles, 325 meters/1,066 ft of climbing)
On more level terrain, today’s ride will feel like a picnic compared to the previous day. Consider exploring Chanaz — the Little Venice of Savoie — or park your bikes to try the exquisite local cheeses in the Roman town of Belley. Or, if you are content to add some extra kilometers to the journey, you can also head just off the route to enjoy lunch in one of the ancestral wineries on the banks of Lac du Bourget. Whatever you choose, be sure to save a little energy for the climb up to your hotel in Champagneux. Your extra effort will be entirely worth it when you feast your eyes on the incredible valley view — and a delicious dinner.
- 34.8 miles
- Hotel Les Bergeronnettes or similar, Champagneux
- Day 4Champagneux — Pérouges
The Rhone river will show you the way through small villages and quiet countryside…the navigation couldn’t be easier: all you have to do is follow the traffic-free bikeway. From Saint-Sorlin, you’ll leave the Via Rhona and ride on secondary roads through the rural “Bugey.” Your destination will soon be in sight as you approach the hilltop medieval village of Pérouges. This is where you’ll stay overnight.
- 42.3 miles
- 1,246.7 ft
- Hostellerie de Pérouges or similar, Perouges
- Day 5Pérouges — Lyon (Long Option: 59 km/37 miles, 380 meters/1,250 ft; Short Option: 42 km/26 miles, 270 meters/885 ft of climbing)
If you just can’t get enough of France’s pretty villages, you’ll want to opt for the longer route the tour operator has devised. You’ll leave the path of the Rhône River for a while, but trust us, it’s well worth it (and you won’t have to worry about falling in the river when the marvelous scenery steals your attention)! On the other hand, if you’re dreaming of diving right into the food stalls at Les Halles in Lyon, you may follow the Via Rhona directly into the city. Tonight, you’ll retire your wheels in the hilly neighborhood of La Croix Rousse.
- 26.1 miles
- Residence Belambra Villemanzy or similar, Lyon
- Day 6Departure
After breakfast, depart at the time of your choice.