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Duration
17 days
Activities
  • self guided cycle
Accommodation
  • 16 nights hotels
Meals
  • 1 Dinner
  • 16 Breakfasts

Price

$3960USD

 
 

Overview

Trip Code: VRC

Trip highlights


  • Experiencing the thrill of completing the full route along the Rhone River from Geneva to the Mediterranean
  • Leisurely cycle in an amazing landscape against the backdrop of the Alps and Provence
  • Riding past rolling vineyards in France
  • Arriving in Lyon, a centre of gourmet excellence
  • Soaking up the fine hospitality of well located hotels

Connecting the Swiss Alps with the Mediterranean, the Rhone River holds an important place in French history. Serving as an inland trading route where goods were transported as far back as the Greek and Roman civilisations, the Rhone connected many of France's most important cities and subsequently many smaller villages were built alongside it. Today, the cultural and architectural legacy of this period can still be found in many places along the river and can be discovered by cycling sections of the Via Rhona Cycle Path.

This section of the dedicated cycle route is almost flat and connects Geneva to the Mediterranean. Over fifteen days of cycling almost entirely in France, follow the banks of the Rhone between the Bugey Mountains and the Jura Massif with many highlights along the way. Sample pastries in Saint-Genix-sur-Guiers, refresh yourself under a majestic waterfall, discover the caves of la Balme les Grottes and enjoy lunch at a charming restaurant on the canal of Savières. Continuing your journey from Lyon to Orange subtle changes reveal scenery of lush vineyards and fragrant orchards on many of the sections. However it's the cultural remnants that make this stage of the Rhone Cycle Path so special such as the splendid cathedrals and relics from Roman times reminding us of an important era long ago. During the ride you can also marvel at cultural treasures such as the large Roman theatre in Vienne, or the architecturally outstanding museum of the Confluences in Lyon. The final stage from Orange will be idyllic, passing by Provençal villages, olive groves, lakes and through the edge of the Camargue nature reserve. At night stay in handpicked hotels brimming with local character, with an option to upgrade your hotels.

Trip Grading

moderate

More info about grading system

Make your own way to Geneva and check in to the first hotel. Take the time to discover this beautiful city of Switzerland, also known as the "capital of peace" with its humanitarian traditions, it will seduce you with its international charm and its old town offering a wide choice of delicious restaurants. You can enjoy a pleasant stroll along the lake, visit a watchmaking museum, or the 'Universe of Particles' exhibition at CERN.

Meals:  Nil

Your first bike ride takes you from Switzerland to France along the Rhone, you will discover the "Défilé de l'Écluse" and then the first vineyards between mountains and valleys, while keeping in view the sumptuous mountains of the Alps. This part of the trip will be on some busier roads, but the rest of the week it will be much quieter. You will spend the night in the charming little town of Seyssel, on the banks of the river. Important Note: The first 23km from Geneva to Chancy (train station Pougny) is mostly on cycle path through the city leaving Geneva, but there are some busy and steep sections outside Geneva. It is possible to take the train from Geneva to Pougny train station, with the bikes, to avoid this section (own expense). From Chancy the route is along a busy steep main road to the border (around 4km), and there's another busy steep section from Vulbens for about 15km on the main road. The last section before Seyssel (about 3.5km) is on a main road with a shoulder/cycle lane. Ascent 550m/1804ft, descent 673m/2208ft.

Meals:  B

Today you leave Seyssel and cycle between ridges and plateaux on both banks of the Rhone. When you arrive in Chanaz, also called “La Petite Venise Savoyarde”, you can enjoy a pleasant break in one of the charming restaurants along the canal of Savières. Continue towards Culoz and Belley, two peaceful towns with a rich heritage set below the Bugey Range, and on to today’s destination, Champagneux. Important note: About 3km of the route today is on a busy road which passes through two tunnels that do not have a shoulder for cyclists. Ascent 132m/433ft, descent 178m/584ft

Meals:  B

Today you’ll pass through Saint-Genix-sur-Guiers. We highly recommend stopping here to sample the famous brioche pralines! Continuing on you can take a small detour towards the village of Glandieu where you can refresh yourself in the majestic waterfall, which is a wonder of nature. You then cross through Morestel, where you can stroll through the narrow streets of the old town before a lovely greenway links “La Vallée Bleue” to Villebois, where you stay overnight. Ascent 232m/761ft, descent 212m/696ft

Meals:  B,D

Today the Via Rhone cycle path takes you through the unspoilt countryside of Bugey, situated above the Rhône. You’ll pass lovely villages this morning including Saint Sorlinen- Bugey and Sault-Brénaz, and then the more secretive La Balme-les-Grottes, with its great caves and picturesque centre. Your final destination will soon be in sight as you approach the hilltop medieval village of Pérouges, listed among ‘The Most Beautiful Villages of France’. Overnight in Pérouges. Ascent 164m/538ft, descent 180m/590ft

Meals:  B

This last cycle stage cleverly links the parks and lakes of Greater Lyon, including at Le Grand Large and Miribel-Jonage. You can enjoy cycling as the route takes you through central Lyon, along the Rhône’s banks. At the Rhône’s confluence with the Saône, you come to a brand-new quarter marked by contemporary architecture, the most striking building being the Musée des Confluences. Your options for the rest of the day are endless but you can also reward your cycling efforts with a delicious meal in a “petit bouchon”, a typical restaurant in the city. Overnight in Lyon. Note: you will hand back your bike on arrival in Lyon. An alternative provider will supply you with another bike for the remainder of your trip. This will be supplied this evening or tomorrow morning. Ascent 61m/200ft, descent 116m/380ft

Meals:  B

Today you'll leave behind the buzz of Lyon, and cycle through the towns of Grigny and Givors, and on to St-Romain-en-Gal. The historic importance of navigation is clearer here than elsewhere along the Rhône, where museums at St-Romain-en-Gal and Vienne give a good picture of the river’s rich history, from classical to contemporary times. Overnight in Vienne.

Meals:  B

Today's cycling offers a great variety of landscapes. From Vienne, once an ancient capital of Roman Gaul, the nature reserve of L’île au Beurre bears witness to the Rhône’s wild side. Then via steeply terraced vineyards including the prestigious Côte-Rôtie, and the first major orchards along the Rhône Valley, this stage will particularly delight those interested in history, nature and gastronomy. Overnight in Serrières.

Meals:  B

The itinerary today runs between steep vineyards and dense orchards. Heading south from Lyon, this is the first stage of the Via Rhona Cycle Path that enters the rugged Ardèche, a beautiful département (French county) on the Rhône’s west flank. The Ardèche is known for its exceptional caves, archaeological sites, characterful villages, châteaux and nature reserves. Here, the tamed river supports orchards, market gardens and vines producing top-class Saint-Joseph wines. Arriving in Tournon-sur-Rhone enjoy a pleasant break and soak in the Gallo-Roman history. In the afternoon, there is much to enchant you, including pretty villages in typical southern style. The town of Valence, the capital of the Drôme département, is a great introduction to the south, with its colorful markets, shaded gardens and historic quarters. Overnight in Valence

Meals:  B

As you leave Valence's southern river port of L'Epervière, the route leads you back onto the western, Ardèche bank of the Rhône. Continuing south, you'll cycle on the suspension footbridge at Rochemaure, which is a great experience. Built using the pillars of the Vieux Pont (old bridge), it is an historic bridge over the Rhône. Continue to the town of Montélimar, where a human presence has existed for more than 50,000 years. Renowned for its nougat, Montélimar is a pleasant city to explore. You can take a tour of the oldest nougat factory, or enjoy a stroll in the old city centre. Overnight in Montélimar.

Meals:  B

Leaving Montélimar, you'll cycle beside branches of the Rhône and pass through the historic medieval town of Viviers to Bourg-Saint-Andéol, whose treasures include a rare sculpture of a Mithraic deity (the 'Gouls du Vallon de Tourne' springs). The short cycle itinerary is packed with heritage and religious treasures including cathedrals, chapels and grand clerical residences. Those who love history as well as nature will particularly enjoy the stage. Crossing the bridge over the Rhone, continue along small roads to Pierrelatte which also has an interesting story about its creation. The town's name is derived from Petralatta, or thrown rock, because it was said that the giant Gargantua was tired from his travels and sat down on Mont Ventoux to take a stone out of his shoe. He threw the stone into the middle of a vast plain and where it landed became Pierrelatte. The large rock is a feature of the town and used as a backdrop for open air theatre and concerts. The town itself has a lovely historic heart to explore.

Meals:  B

Today you'll pedal through impressive natural scenery, delighting in the scents of Provence and passing through the charming village of Pont-Saint-Esprit. In the afternoon you'll reach the beautiful city of Orange. Of the numerous Roman buildings and monuments originally built, you still can see parts of the City Wall, the Arc de Triomphe and the Theatre (UNESCO heritage listed), the stage wall of which the Sun King, Louis XIV, described as the most beautiful wall in his country. Overnight in Orange.

Meals:  B

Continue cycling into the world-famous wine town Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where a stroll through the town should not be missed. Continue to the city of Avignon along the Rhône Cycle path, a relaxed way to cycle into the city. On arrival in Avignon we recommend visiting the old town including the Palais des Papes (Pope's Palace). +286m/944ft, -306m/1010ft

Meals:  B

Our recommended route today takes you off the Rhone Cycle Way to experience some of the delightful towns of Provence. Taking a quiet cycle route, you leave Avignon and pedal directly to St Rémy, possibly the most beautiful and certainly the most typical town in Provence. Take a break in the shaded square or wander the old centre with its shops and cafes. A visit to the monastery Saint Paul de Mausole, where van Gogh spent a year, is highly recommended. Leaving St Remy, you can admire the Roman Arch as you head to the Alpilles. Enjoy great views of Les Baux, the “city in rock”with its harmonic location and fortress ruins. Continue to Arles, once the second largest city of the Roman Empire. Today, Roman culture and Romanesque heritage characterize the historic centre of Arles. It is also the city of Vincent van Gogh. Make your way to your hotel. +340m/1122ft, -343m/1132ft An alternative route is available on your app today, following the Rhone Cycle way. This route takes you via Beaucaire on the right bank of the river. 58.4km/36.5mi - this route is relatively flat (+59m/195ft, -74m/244ft)

Meals:  B

The cycle route today travels from Arles to Aigues-Mortes. Through picturesque villages there is ample opportunity to explore the Mediterranean charm of the landscape. This stage crosses the Camargue Gardoise (the western, Languedoc side of the Camargue) and you will discover the unique flora and fauna of this nature reserve. You cycle along the former towpaths beside the Canal du Rhône à Sète, crossing through typical marshland to reach the walled port of Aigues-Mortes. Nestled on the Mediterranean coast, Aigues-Mortes captivates with its medieval allure and well-preserved city walls. Explore the charming cobblestone streets, visit the impressive Constance Tower and soak in the maritime ambiance of this historic French town. Aigues-Mortes blends history, architecture and coastal beauty. +155m/511ft, -170m/561ft

Meals:  B

As the ViaRhône route ends, the Mediterranean awaits, with its beaches easily accessible by bike. Cycle along the Canal du Rhône and past Le Grau-du-Roi. Your ride continues along the Mediterranean and its beaches, with lively resorts and activities all around. You will be surrounded by the sea and salt lagoons behind the shore. Between Palavas-les-Flots and Sète, close to Montpellier, the itinerary follows beaches and saltwater lagoons. Visit the Maguelone Cathedrale for a glimpse of the massif of Gardioles covered with scrubland. Sète Harbour on the edge of the Etang de Thau, marks the conclusion of this epic cycle. +251m/828ft, -253m/835ft

Meals:  B

The trip concludes after breakfast in Sète. We can assist with extra nights accommodation if you'd like to further explore Sète, please ask for our rates.

Meals:  B


Map

Elevation

The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.
On self guided trips, actual route information provided before departure will be more detailed.


Inclusions

  • 16 breakfasts - generally continental style with cereals, bread, cheese, meats, yoghurt, tea, coffee and juice
  • 1 dinner - on day 4 - note that this is dependent on staying at our usual hotel (standard and upgrade version) in Villebois. If an alternative hotel is booked, dinner will not be included.
  • 16 nights 2-3 star hotels on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities (upgrade to comfort plus hotels available - supplement applies)
  • Hybrid bike supplied with panniers, repair kit, helmet and lock (electric bike available on request - supplement applies). SPD pedals can be provided on request.
  • Digital information pack including smartphone app with maps and roadbook
  • Luggage Transfer, 1 piece maximum 20kg, supplement applies for excess
  • Emergency hotline

  • Travel to Geneva and from Sete
  • Meals not listed as included, drinks
  • Travel insurance - mandatory
  • E-bike hire, supplement applies
  • Guide – this is a self guided cycling holiday
  • A supplement will apply if you are travelling solo or book a single room
  • Entrance fees not listed as included
  • Transfers not listed as included
  • Transfers by taxi or public transport if you need to skip a stage
  • Excess Luggage
  • Handlebar phone holder – to follow the route more easily using the app
  • Items of a personal nature

Bike information


Grading

moderate  

The trip is graded moderate. During the 15 days of cycling the daily routes are between 30 and 71 kilometres/ 18.75 and 44.3 miles. The longer stages are over relatively flat terrain. Earlier on in the trip there are a couple of longer ascents to be tackled which can be made easier if you book an e-bike. On all other stages the terrain is nearly flat throughout and easy to cycle on. Except for a few interruptions, the Rhône-cycle path is well constructed and it is a perfect example for signposting and routing. In order to prepare for this trip you will need to be comfortable cycling for extended periods, sometimes with traffic around you (sometimes unavoidable going in to and leaving towns). Pre trip you should exercise 3 times per week with some cycling mixed in to your usual exercise regime.


Departure dates

Daily from 1 Apr to 20 Oct

Notes

H
High Season
Note:
high season is from 1 Jun to 31 Aug - supplement applies

Want to organise a private group?

Fundraising events, sporting groups, family treats; learn how you can organise a Private Group from just 6 travellers.

Priceper person from

$3960USD

Options & Supplements*
  • E-Bike SupplementUSD$290
  • Hotel Upgrade SupplementUSD$440
  • Single Supplement - standard hotelsUSD$1170
  • Solo Traveller Supplement - standard hotelsUSD$1480
  • Single Supplement - upgrade hotelsUSD$1610
  • Solo Traveller Supplement - upgrade hotelsUSD$1920
*Prices listed are per person

Trip reviews


Why travel with us

Making Europe Affordable

We offer different levels of accommodation and comfort so that even the most budget conscious can treat themselves to active holidays on Europe's most celebrated tracks and trails. Our trips are great value for money because you only pay for what you want.  

Self-Guided Specialists

Our wide range of self-guided itineraries embody the UTracks philosophy of exploring Europe your way. We handle the logistics so all that's left for you to do is enjoy exploring Europe at your own pace. Most depart daily with a minimum of two people, meaning maximum flexibility.

Our Wide Range

With close to 400 trips in almost 50 countries, including the largest range of bike & boat holidays in Europe, we're confident that we can organise an Alps walk, Camino de Santiago or Via Francigena experience, Food Lovers' trip or a tour in a lesser-known pocket of Europe that you will love. 

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