Linking the three major lakes of the area (Lake Geneva, Lake Bourget, and Lake Annecy), the cycling routes essentially follow river paths along the Rhône and Isère rivers. On your way, you’ll encounter a variety of photo-worthy scenery, villages that seem stuck in time, and of course, mountains upon mountains.
Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit in case you can’t resist the call of the lake (or all four lakes… there are so many on this extended itinerary) or the thermal baths of Aix-les-Bains!
Day 1 (Friday or Sunday): Arrive in Geneva
Arrive in Geneva at your leisure and check-in at your hotel. Take time to discover this stylish city on your own. It’s a gem of international organizations, finance, and culture, meshing Old World with new, and is a delight to explore. The crescent-shaped Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) provides a marvelous treat for your eyes and plentiful photo fodder. Dinner is at leisure. Since Geneva is the culinary capital of Switzerland, you’ll find a variety of...
Day 1 (Friday or Sunday): Arrive in Geneva
Arrive in Geneva at your leisure and check-in at your hotel. Take time to discover this stylish city on your own. It’s a gem of international organizations, finance, and culture, meshing Old World with new, and is a delight to explore. The crescent-shaped Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) provides a marvelous treat for your eyes and plentiful photo fodder. Dinner is at leisure. Since Geneva is the culinary capital of Switzerland, you’ll find a variety of restaurants and eateries sure to please every palate.
Day 2 (Saturday or Monday): Geneva – Seyssel - 63 km/39 miles, 710 meters/2,330 ft of climbing
Meet our local rep in the morning for the bike outfitting and itinerary briefing. The highlights of your route include cycling along the infamous Rhône River, admiring the views over the charming wine-making villages of Dardagny and Satigny, and frolicking around forts. Conquer the westernmost point of Switzerland by bike at the village of Chancy and then cross the border into France. Do not miss the Fort de l’Ecluse, an elevated fort founded by a Duke of Savoy. He built it out of a striking rock formation, one which forms a natural entrance of the Rhône Valley into France between the Vuache hills and the Jura. Your home for the night is in Seyssel, a small “double-town” in both the Haute-Savoie (Upper Savoy) and the Ain departments on the Rhône River located between two dams.
Note: The ride from Gaillard is longer (70 km / 43 miles)
Day 3 (Sunday or Tuesday): Seyssel – Aix-les-Bains - 46 km/29 miles, 430 meters/1,410 ft of climbing
The views on today’s ride — the 14 summits of the Bauges mountain range on one side, as well as Mont de la Charvaz and Col-du-Chat on the other — are some of the major highlights of this tour. Sheer cliffs seem to spring up magically from the water and the mountains surround you in protective peacefulness. Lake Bourget (Lac du Bourget) is the largest natural lake of glacial origin and the deepest entirely within France. It was home to the now-extinct Bezoule, a freshwater whitefish that fed at muddy depths of 70 to 80 meters (230 - 260 ft) and reportedly disappeared in the 1960s. Cycle past the impressive site of the medieval Château de Montverran in Culoz, which was built on a rock in 1316 and, in more recent times, inspired the likes of the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. Pedal on to the spa town of Aix-les-Bains, which was known for its baths as far back as the Roman Empire. You can discover the numerous Roman ruins that remain.
You’ll also have the option to take a “bike boat” (to be clear, it is a boat with space for bikes; no need to pedal to get the boat moving!) across the Lake, from Conjux to Aix-les-Bains.
This option is subject to availability: on Sundays only from May to mid-July and in September.
on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from mid-July to the end of August.
Both options offer spectacular views of the lake and surroundings!
Day 4 (Monday or Wednesday): Aix-les-Bains – Sainte-Hélène-sur-Isère or Coise-Saint-Jean-Pied-Gauthier - 66 km/41 miles, 680 meters/2,230 ft of climbing; the ride to Coise-Saint-Jean-Pied-Gauthier is shorter (53 km / 33 miles)
Today you’ll pedal through the heart of Savoy to Chambery, a town of art and history. Located in a wide valley between the Bauges and Chartreuse Mountain
ranges, at the crossroads of ancient trade routes, the old-town section of Chambery is one of the most remarkable in France. Along the way, take in the ruins of the 10th-century fortress, Chateau de Miolans, which overlook the rich wine-growing region of the Combe de Savoie valley (including the village of Chignin, with remains of the 8th century Sarasin stronghold and its 6 towers). The Isère River guides the route to Grésy-sur-Isère, a largely agricultural community that has been inhabited by man since the Neolithic Age.
Day 5 (Tuesday or Thursday): Sainte-Hélène-sur-Isère or Coise-Saint-Jean-Pied-Gauthier – Annecy - 56 km/35 miles, 290 meters/950 ft of climbing; from Coise-Saint-Jean-Pied-Gauthier, the ride is longer (75 km / 47 miles)
Roll your way to Grésy-sur-Isère by way of Albertville, situated on the Arly River close to the confluence with the Isere River. Albertville hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics and has become quite an industrial center, but it also encompasses the medieval town of Conflans, whose buildings date back to the 14th century. The Beaufortain and Bauges Mountain ranges will dazzle you as you cycle to the stunning Lake Annecy (Lac d’Annecy). The Aravis mountain range reigns over Europe’s cleanest lake; its heights are famous for the hairpin turns and steep bends in the Tour de France. The magnificent town of Annecy, nestled on the northern tip of Lake Annecy, might remind you of Venice — canals cut through sections of the historic Alpine-style village. Strolling around, you’ll encounter the Palais de l’Isle (12th Century prison on an island, the town’s symbol), the Chateau d’Annecy, the 16th-century Cathedral of Saint-Pierre, and the 20th century Pont des Amours (Lover’s Bridge) made of iron.
Day 6 (Wednesday or Friday): Departure
Have a relaxing breakfast, enjoy more of the sights and sounds and ambiance of Annecy, and depart at your leisure. Or feel free to prolong your stay in Annecy in order to make the most of this extraordinary town and setting.
A minimum of 2 riders is required for this tour. Price for solo rider is on request.
Starting on another weekday is possible for groups (must be 4 or more at time of booking and departure).
Humans have been drawn to mountains since pre-historic times, and the French Alps certainly are an impressive bunch! Climbing them (by bike or otherwise) is a different story. You’ll be happy to learn that on this leisurely itinerary, you’ll find yourself surrounded by glorious peaks (and other incredible scenery) without having to work as hard as a Tour de France athlete.
This self-guided tour starts any Friday or Sunday from April through October.