Rising in the Alps, the River Rhone flows through the boundless expanse of the Camargue. On its way, it flows for 155 miles (250 km) through the western Jura mountains to Lyon. The ViaRhôna cycle path traces the river on its journey. If you find the Rhone route in Switzerland too mountainous, and the valley near Lyon too flat, then this Collection is for you.
Here, I guide you along the ViaRhôna, which forms part of the EuroVelo route 17, from Switzerland to France in seven varied stages. The route officially starts in Saint-Gingolph on the southern shore of Lake Geneva. However, as the first leg runs almost entirely along a road and as the starting point is hard to reach, I’ve started this Collection in Geneva. This also means it integrates perfectly with two other Collections along the Rhone, thus creating a link between the Rhone route (komoot.de/collection/918946) and the second part of the ViaRhôna, which runs from Lyon to the Mediterranean (komoot.de/collection/453).
The route follows the Rhone for 273 kilometres (169 miles) from Geneva to Lyon. The river winds through narrow valleys before carving through the Jura mountains. But, before long, the landscape flattens out as you ride on well-developed cycle paths along the river. The Rhone flows through verdant valleys and the Bas-Bugey Jura foothills before zigzagging through the Rhone Valley all the way to Lyon.
Although this part of the ViaRhôna is considerably more demanding in terms of altitude profile than the second part from Lyon, the route is still achievable for less experienced cycle tourers. The paths are paved the whole way, with no more than 360 meters (1,180 feet) of climbing and 60 km (37 miles) of distance. The ViaRhôna is also suitable for families looking for a great destination for their next cycling holiday. But, I wouldn’t recommend it for your first bike trip with the children as you will ride along busy roads occasionally.
You’ll find plenty of places to stop for refreshments en route. However, France is much less populated than the Swiss valleys and restaurant and supermarket opening hours can vary so it is always worth having some snacks with you. Accommodation can be limited in the stage destinations, but you’ll still find campsites and inns en route. I’ve included some information about where to stay in the stage descriptions. You should definitely reserve your place to stay in advance.
As already mentioned, this collection is only one part of the whole cycle route along the Rhone. So if you feel motivated and want to continue cycling, here's a little tip: I'm not a real friend of big cities on cycling tours. Apart from all the traffic, they often lack air to breathe and Lyon is unfortunately no exception. If you are like me, I have a good alternative route for you: From Saint-Genix-sur-Guiers, at the southernmost point of the Collection, you can ride in over Lac de Paladru to Mottier past Framans, Beaurepaire and Anneyron to Laveyron, thus adding two to three days to your trip and giving Lyon a wide berth.
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From Seyssel, you first take a leisurely walk along the Rhone until a short but crisp climb over a main road awaits you at the mouth of the "Fier". There is a hard shoulder marked for cyclists, but it is not even one meter wide and actually only deserves the name of the bike path thanks to the signs on the side of the road.