We happen to think that makes for a special cycling tour!
Our seven-day cycling itinerary takes in everything. Transporting you between the river’s two big cities, Geneva in Switzerland and Lyon in France, the tour serves up the very best the Rhône has to offer along the way: from historic forts to glistening lakes; Roman ruins to parkland panoramas. Best of all, this high, dramatic scenery is enjoyed from a painless route, making it the ideal tour for families and leisure riders.
The accommodation we provide along the way – from characterful guesthouses to family-run hotels – is also tailored for relaxation not perspiration. We even move your luggage for you! So, with no scheduled start date and the opportunity to travel at your own pace, it’s the ideal way to see the Rhône at leisure.
Sunday: Arrival in Geneva.
The first day of the itinerary is the easiest of all – all you have to do is get here! Geneva is a cultured and cosmopolitan city with more than enough attractions to fill a day, so you can check in to the lovely Hotel Jade 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 in its many jewellery stores or set sail on the sparkling Geneva Lake, it’s up to you.
Monday: Geneva – Seyssel (approx. 60 km/37 miles)
Following 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. This is where your journey really begins. This is the longest day of cycling during the whole tour, and has the highest ascent – but the good news is there’s also a whopping 715 metres of downhill to enjoy! 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 – including for stunning panoramas, striking rock formations and historic forts – and you’ll end the day at the Hotel Beau Sejour in Seyssel, a tiny town sandwiched between two river dams.
Tuesday: Seyssel to Champagneux (approx. 53 km/33 miles)
Covering a shorter distance, in an almost straight line, and with a total climb of just 230 metres, this will feel like a picnic compared to the previous day. Consider exploring Chanaz – the Little Venice of Savoie –or park the 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 route to enjoy lunch in one of the ancestral wineries on the banks of Lac du Bourget. It’s your call – that’s the beauty of a self-guided tour. End with a fine meal, relaxing swim and good night’s rest in the Hotel Bergeronnettes in Champagneux.
Wednesday: Champagneux to Vertrieu (approx. 52 km/32 miles)
As the flattest day on the tour, this route offers plenty of opportunities to pause along the way. Visit the village of Saint Genix sur Guiers to learn the story of the French Robin Hood; take a break in the Walibi Aquitaine Park (water theme park) near the village of Les Avenieres; or try your hand at the river kayak slalom at Sault-Brénaz. But we would recommend arriving in your final destination Vertrieu before dark, so you can enjoy the 12th century fortified chateau and the charms of your guesthouse, Le Relais du Bac.
Thursday: Vertrieu to Villars-les-Dombes/ Monthieux (approx. 47 km/29 miles)
If you want to start your fifth day with a prehistoric bang, why not take an early morning detour to see the ancient underground grottoes at Les Balme-les-Grottes – home to subterranean lakes, fossils, and even a dinosaur exhibition? If not, that’s okay… there are plenty of other route highlights to enjoy too! You will be cycling all morning through the rolling hills and innumerable lakes of the Dombes, so take a much-deserved lunch break in the pretty town of Chazey-sur-Ain to admire the view. You can also pedal on further to other pretty towns like Villieu Loyes Mollon, Rignieux le Franc and Versailleux. Finally, you will arrive at Villars-les-Dombes, where you can check out the church and the amazing bird park (Le Parc des Oiseaux). In an exceptional natural setting shaped by the river, this 2200 hectare suburban park is one of Europe's largest urban parks located in Lyon’s outskirt. It is a favorite destination for nature activity and outdoor recreational. You’ll then reach your hotel in Monthieux located in the middle of the Gouverneur golf club, the greatest of Rhône-Alpes.
Friday: Monthieux/Villar-les-Dombes to Jons (approx. 43 km/26 miles)
Enjoy the lakes while you can, because today you will be crossing out of the Dombes while edging ever closer to Lyon. There’s not much ground to cover today, so there’s the perfect opportunity for a lie-in, but if you want to enjoy all the sights en route – including towns like Saint Marcel and Meximieux, the natural reserve of Camp de la Valbonne and perhaps some lake swimming – you may wish to start early.
Saturday: Jons to Lyon (approx. 28 km/18 miles)
This is it… the home stretch. Shortly after leaving Jons you can easily spend a morning in the spectacular Miribel-Jonage Park – over 2,200 hectares of protected nature with a range of activities – but then you should push on to Lyon. Why? Because this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of France’s finest cities. With your luggage waiting in your hotel, you are free to spend the remainder of the day exploring the urban Parc de la Tete d'Or, taking a cable car up to the stunning Notre-Dame de Fourviere basilica on the hill or simply walking around the Old Town with its pretty medieval cathedral. Or, in fact, anything else that tickles your fancy.
After breakfast, depart at the time of your choice.
Pricing: 940 euros per person sharing a room. Single supplement is 335 euros.
Also see tour packages in:
Europe France Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring
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