The Rhône is the mightiest river in France, flowing for more than 500 miles (800 km) over mixed terrain to connect the Swiss Alps with the Mediterranean Sea. On this ride, you’ll follow this breathtaking force of water through the historic cities of Lyon, Valence, Avignon and Arles to Montpellier. You’ll cycle alongside the sloping vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône, through peach plantations, provincial lavender fields and rice farms, and past the flamingos of the Carmague as you make your way to towards Languedoc-Roussillion. Over eight stages, you’ll roll past steep, rocky gorges and across flat fields — always into the wide horizon.
After leaving the Alps, the Rhône meanders purposefully towards the Mediterranean. On this diverse ride, you’ll follow the river for about 300 miles (500 km) to its mouth, taking the well-established cycle path the whole way. Just bear in mind that in parts, the Via Rhôna is still under construction and can be pretty confusing in some places. The road is wide, however, and in most cases, barely used, and you'll encounter hardly a foot of altitude difference along the entire route. That means you'll be able to cycle for longer than you might expect — perfect for exhausting yourself ready for a night in the tent in one of the numerous campsites you'll pass en route.
Lyon can be reached quickly from Paris or Basel and is perfect for starting your tour towards the Mediterranean.Before you go, it's worth taking a stroll around the old town, visiting the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière and catching up on the tourist information on the Place Bellecour with some details about the ViaRhôna sections. There, the route starts and you drive out of the city. Through small suburban settlements with industrial charm à la Ruhrgebiet but you come quickly into the countryside. The Via leads directly along the river and is well signposted.After 50 km you will pass the small campsite L'ile des Pêcheurs, ideal to pitch your camp for the first night.
From the campsite, head south. The path from here is perfect for touring and in Condrieu you can treat yourself to a pain au chocolat at the Boulangerie Au Plaisir Des Saveurs.The landscape changes, it becomes more hilly right and left of the Rhône and on the slopes you can admire the vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône from afar. The river separates the Departments Loire in the west and Isère in the east from each other. The nice thing about the route is that it lets you swing over suspension bridges from shore to shore.In Serrières it is worth stopping for lunch and eating something small at Le Bateau de Emile.
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After Tournon-sur-Rhône you will pass through Valence, the capital of the department of Drône. Here it is worthwhile to push a piece and to look at the historic old town. Past the Fontaine Monumentale until you reach the Esplanade du Champ de Mars, from where you have a beautiful view of the surroundings.The vineyards are replaced by cliffs on the riverbank. Once in Montélimar, you can enjoy a galette (buckwheat crepe) for your early dinner. Your destination of the day, the campsite Rochecondrie, is now not far away.
This is a long stage at which the former Pope seat of Avignon awaits you. First you drive south and leave Viviers behind you.The route takes you past the spectacular cliffs of the Defilé de Donzères and the Pont de Robinet. This place is considered a true gateway to Provence. From here, the cliffs are less again and the landscape is flatter. In Pont-Saint-Esprit you can have a lunch break and enjoy the view of the medieval bridge of the same name.Unfortunately, the Via Rhôna is not really well developed and it is necessary to look into the map more often. Through Caderousse with its 10-meter-high flood barrier, you will reach Avignon. Right in town, on a small island in the Rhône, is your current campsite.
After the many kilometers of the last days a shorter tour with the nice destination Arles is waiting again today.In the morning, it's worth making a round in Avignon and watching the hustle and bustle around the Papal Palace. Then it's out of town, here the landscape is really flat now. It goes past fields, vines and wineries.The path does not always lead directly along the Rhone, as far as Beaucaire. Here you can take a good break and get the latest information about the route again in the tourist information, as this is still partially expanded.From here it is not far to Arles. Just outside the town, the river divides into Le Petit Rhône and Le Grande Rhône. The route follows the route of Le Grande Rhône towards Port-St-Louis-du-Rhône.
The route today leads you directly through the Camargue nature reserve, past flamingos, rice fields and salt fields. The destination is the Mediterranean.In the morning, we recommend a nice walk through the city center of Arles, where Vincent van Gogh lived. The ViaRhôna now runs along the Canal du Rhône à Sête.In the true, despite all very picturesque, tourist stronghold Aigues-Mortes, you can marvel at the perfectly intact city walls and then continue west to La Grande Motte. This is an absolute contrast, as the city was built in the 60s from the ground to catch the tourist streams.
After six long days, the last stage is more like a short drive. Especially in summer, it is worth spending a few hours on the beach. A bit out of the city there is enough space in the sand in midsummer. The tour then takes you right along the Mediterranean coast to Montpellier. The view over the shallow coast is beautiful. After about ten kilometers, head north to the historic old town and Neustadt of Montpellier. Here, in the second oldest university city in France, your journey to the Mediterranean ends.