Tobias

The Rhone Route – from glaciers to Lake Geneva

Benjamin Behre

The Rhone Route – from glaciers to Lake Geneva

Bike Touring Collection by Tobias

4-7

days

3-5 h

/ day

213 mi

9,450 ft

12,975 ft

In 20th place, the Rhone may not be one of the top 10 longest rivers in Europe, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in beauty. Crossing diverse landscapes, this Collection follows the river as it winds through the Alps to Lake Geneva. Interested yet? Come along!

Following in the footsteps of James Bond, you first cycle to the source of the Rhone, the imposing Rhone Glacier. After a strenuous ascent, you'll hurtle downhill towards the sun-drenched landscape of the Goms. As the Rhone gradually widens, the vineyards along the Valais Wine Trail also become bigger. Next, turn 90° at the so-called knee of the Rhone and continue uphill towards Switzerland's largest lake. You can then discover Lausanne and the cosmopolitan city of Geneva.

Fun fact: on average, it takes 11.4 years for the waters of the Rhone to find their way to Lake Geneva. Luckily, you don’t need that long on a bike. Two to three days should be enough to cycle to the other end of the lake.

The Rhone Route starts in Andermatt and follows the Rhone River 343 kilometers (213 miles) to Geneva. The river doesn’t stop there, it flows into France and towards the Mediterranean. A cycle path traces the river all the way to its final destination under the name “ViaRhona”.

The official Swiss section of the Rhone Route ends in a small town on the French border. To make it easier for you to plan your adventure, I’ve ended this Collection in Geneva. One more thing: Don't be confused if during your journey the Rhone is sometimes called Rotten or Lake Geneva is sometimes called Lac Léman. These are simply somewhat older expressions, some of which are still in use, but they refer to the same thing.

Although the route always follows the course of the river whenever possible, the elevation profile of the Collection is still quite a challenge. The first stage is especially tough and around Lake Geneva is also quite hilly. So, take a close look at the stages beforehand and decide what is right for you. You can always travel parts of the route by bus or train (with your bike) to avoid some of the trickier parts. There’s even a ferry on Lake Geneva. Parts of the route are suitable for an ambitious family trip.

In some places I have adapted the official route for you (more details in the stage descriptions). Therefore, the total distance does not exactly correspond to the official kilometer indications of the Rhone Route. However, I have kept to the original stage classification.

There are always plenty of places to stay at the individual stage destinations. Nevertheless, please remember to book your accommodation in advance. Running short on snacks is also near impossible on this trip as there are plenty of shops and restaurants along the cycle path.

You can find details about how to reach and return from each route in the stage descriptions. Of course, you can also cycle the route in the opposite direction. It’s slightly more uphill, but you may be lucky enough to have the Valais tailwind.

Looking for even more adventure? This Collection offers you various possibilities to extend your journey. You can either continue from Geneva via the ViaRhôna to Lyon and then to the Mediterranean (komoot.de/collection/919849 and komoot.de/collection/453) or you can take on the full route, starting directly at the North Sea and following the Rhine to its source just before Andermatt (komoot.de/collection/210) where you switch onto the Rhone route. Unbelievably, on this route you can cross Europe with just one mountain to climb.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    02:55
    23.0 mi
    7.9 mph
    3,400 ft
    3,675 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Rhone route is part of EuroVelo 17 and starts in Andermatt, a true hub of the inter-European cycle route network. In addition to the Rhine route (EuroVelo 15), the …

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  • Difficult
    03:31
    32.7 mi
    9.3 mph
    1,775 ft
    3,975 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    The second stage starts in Oberwald and leads through the sun-drenched Gomstal. The Rhone is not entirely innocent of its creation, since it was completely gouged out by the ice …

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  • Intermediate
    02:46
    27.9 mi
    10.1 mph
    650 ft
    1,125 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Gradually, the course of the Rhone and the Valais main valley are becoming wider. There can hardly be any talk of a wild glacier stream here. The Rhone is now more like a straightened canal in many places. In the Pfyn-Finges nature park between Leuk and Sierre, you can let them run free. There she lost playfully in dozen small arms and meandered through the valley.

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  • Intermediate
    03:24
    34.8 mi
    10.2 mph
    525 ft
    775 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today's stage combines the upper world with the lower world and castles with castles. But first it goes straight for a few kilometers along the Rhone embankment until the Lac de la Brèche with its turquoise blue water invites you to take a little break. Beware of the golf course on the other side of the lake. - Maybe you'd better leave your helmet on. ;)

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  • Intermediate
    02:42
    29.9 mi
    11.1 mph
    275 ft
    550 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage number 5 largely describes the last stretch of the upper reaches of the Rhone before it finally flows into Lake Geneva. In keeping with this grand finale, the cycle …

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  • Intermediate
    02:47
    26.8 mi
    9.6 mph
    1,450 ft
    1,425 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Do you know the song "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple? Certainly. - Here's a little anecdote about how this world hit came about: During a concert in the …

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  • Intermediate
    03:44
    38.4 mi
    10.3 mph
    1,425 ft
    1,425 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    At almost 62 kilometers, the final stage from Morges to Geneva is the longest on the Rhone route. Since the main road again leads along the lakeshore, the bike path …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    213 mi
  • Duration
    21:49 h
  • Elevation
    9,450 ft12,975 ft

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The Rhone Route – from glaciers to Lake Geneva