Via Rhona Day 1
Archamps (Geneve) to Belley

July is here and a bonus trip to the Alps, but this time it is not a week of climbing but a gentle week along the Via Rhona, one of Europe's long distance cycle paths much of which is on segregated cycle lanes with sections on quiet roads. The Via Rhona begins high up in the Swiss Alps at the Rhone Glacier and follows the River Rhone down through Switzerland, around Lac Leman / Lake Geneva and then down to the Carmargue (Rhone Delta) on the Mediterranean joining up with the route along the coast into Spain. We are cycling the 350 miles or so from Geneva to Avignon. Actually from Archamps which is effectively a French suburb of Geneva.

The trip started with an early rise for the 7:35 'breakfast' ferry from Dover to Calais and then a drive via the French Autoroutes (A26, A4, A26, A5, A31, A39, A40 & A42) to Archamps. Saying goodbye to the car for a week, the holiday proper began the next day with another early start (out on the road by 8:15) to try and avoid the worst of the heat and the chance of afternoon thunderstorms. Ahead of us was 63 miles, carrying a weeks' worth of kit, but this is a route following a river so flat and easy. Not quite. We immediately crossed into Switzerland and skirted the outskirts of Geneva on some Swiss cyclepaths and met up with the Via Rhona after about 5 miles at the top of the small climb of the Rampe de Chavant. We had a mixture of quiet roads and dedicated cycle path before meeting the Rhone for the first time at the Barrage de Verbois. Here we had a choice of route, a rough river-side stretch or the road. After an aborted look at the river-side route, we chose the road. We crossed the river again at La Plaine

At this point the river passes through a narrow gorge in between some small mountains and as there isn't room for any roads we had a couple of little climbs in the forest on very quiet roads and soon passed back into France. By now it was warming up and we had two decent climbs, taking us up to the highest point of the week at 578m (see profile at bottom of the page). Given the weight of kit being carried, these climbs at 6-7% were quite testing. We had a long descent back to the river at Seysell. There were a few drops of rain around but the any storms headed into the mountains and we were soon back into glorious sunshine, a bit too glorious. The temperature was well into the 30s by the afternoon. Apart from a small section on road, we were treated to glorious cycle paths alongside the river, through fields and through forests taking us to the delightful village of Chanaz - a beautiful little village offering river trips but by now we were quite close to our destination so we carried on.

We crossed the river again, the cycle path having a really tight hairpin bend. When loaded up with panniers, bikes don't like going round tight corners! The final stretch followed the river and then we had a short climb into the town of Belley for a well deserved beer (sorry, isotonic recovery drink).

Map
Day 2
Full Photo Gallery
 

Crossing the River Rhone at La Plaine (CH)
Clarafond-Arcine. The highest point of the week.
The delightful village of Chanaz
A stretch of Via Rhona. Lyon the day after next
Map

Today's ride profile - some cheeky climbs for a course that follows a river. Over 700m climbing.
The longest climb was slightly over 150m vertical gain, in 30 degree heat and with luggage

 


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