Day 1: Arrive in Geneva (Option A+) or Gaillard (Option A)
Arrive in Geneva/Gaillard at your leisure and check-in to your hotel. Take time to discover the stylish city of Geneva. It’s a gem of international organizations, finance, and culture, meshing Old World with New, and is a delight to explore. The crescent-shaped Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) provides a marvelous treat for your eyes and plentiful photo fodder. Dinner is at leisure. Due to the fact that Geneva is the culinary capital of Switzerland, there is a variety of restaurants and eateries, sure to please every palette.
Overnight in Geneva (A+) or Gaillard (A)
Day 2: Option A+: Geneva – Seyssel (38 miles/62 km, 2,545 ft/775 m of climbing)
Option A: Gaillard – Seyssel (43 miles/69 km, 2,725 ft/830 m of climbing)
Meet your tour company contact in the morning to go over the itinerary and outfitting of bikes. The highlights of your route include cycling along the famous Rhone River, admiring the heart-warming views over the charming wine-making villages of Dardagny and Satigny, and exploring impressive forts, cathedrals, and chateaus.
Conquer the westernmost point of Switzerland by bike at the village of Chancy and then cross the border into France. Unmissable here is the Fort de l’Ecluse, founded by a Duke of Savoy, which is an elevated fort, built out of a striking rock formation and a natural entrance of the Rhone Valley into France between the Vuache hills and the Jura. Your home for the night is in Seyssel, a small “double-town” in both the Haute-Savoie (Upper Savoy) and the Ain departments on the Rhone River located between two dams.
Overnight in Seyssel
Day 3: Seyssel – Aix-les-Bains (29 miles/46 km, 1,510 ft/460 m of climbing)
The views on today’s ride, including the 14 summits of the Bauges mountain range on one side, as well as Mont de la Charvaz and Col-du-Chat on the other, are some of the major highlights of this tour. Sheer cliffs seem to spring up magically from the water and the mountains surround you in protective peacefulness.
Lake Bourget (Lac du Bourget) is the largest natural lake of glacial origin and the deepest entirely within France. It was the only home to the now extinct Bezoule, a freshwater whitefish that fed at muddy depths of 70 to 80 meters (230-260 ft) and reportedly disappeared in the 1960s.
Cycle past the impressive site of the medieval Château de Montverran in Culoz, which was built on a rock in 1316 and, in more recent times, inspired the likes of the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. Pedal on to the spa town of Aix-les-Bains, which was known for its baths as far back as the Roman Empire, with numerous Roman ruins still remaining.
Overnight in Aix-les-Bains
Day 4: Option A+: Aix-les-Bains – Saint-Pierre-d'Albigny (29 miles/47 km, 1,635 ft/500 m of climbing)
Option A: Aix-les-Bains – Sainte-Hélène-sur-Isère (42 miles/68 km, 2,300 ft/700 m climbing)
Pedaling through Chambery, a town of art and history and the heart of Savoy, is a central feature to the route for today. Located in a wide valley between the Bauges and Chartreuse Mountain ranges and regional park areas at the crossroads of ancient trade routes, the old-town section of Chambery is one of the most remarkable in France.
Along the way take in the ruins of the 10th century fortress, Chateau de Miolans, overlooking the rich wine-growing region of the Combe de Savoy valley, including the wine-making village of Chignin, with remains of the 8th century Sarasin stronghold and its 6 towers. The Isère River guides the route to Grésy-sur-Isère, a largely agricultural community which has been inhabited by man since the Neolithic age.
Overnight in or Saint-Pierre-d-Albigny (A+) or Sainte-Helene-sur-Isere (A)
Day 5: Option A+: Saint-Pierre-d'Albigny – Annecy (43 miles/69 km, 1,720 ft/525 m of climbing)
Option A: Sainte-Hélène-sur-Isère – Annecy (36 miles/58 km, 1,285 ft/400 m of climbing)
On your bikes you wind your way to Grésy-sur-Isère by way of Albertville, situated on the Arly River, close to the confluence with the Isere River. Albertville hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics and has become quite an industrial center, but it also encompasses the medieval town of Conflans, with buildings dating back to the 14th century.
The Beaufortain and Bauges Mountain ranges will dazzle you as you cycle to the stunning Lake Annecy (Lac d’Annecy). Known as Europe’s cleanest lake, its amazing setting is presided over by the Aravis mountain range in the background, famous for the hairpin turns and steep bends popularized on the Tour de France.
The magnificent town of Annecy, nestled on the northern tip of Lake Annecy, is home to the International Animated Film Festival and boasts an alluring alpine atmosphere, as well as some notable sites, such as the Palais de l’Isle (12th century prison on an island in a canal and the symbol of the town), the Chateau d’Annecy, the 16th century Cathedral of Saint-Pierre, and the 20th century Pont des Amour (Lover’s Bridge) made of iron.
Overnight in Annecy
Day 6: Departure
Have a relaxing breakfast, enjoy more of the sights and sounds and ambiance of Annecy, and depart at your leisure. Or, feel free to prolong the vacation and stay longer in Annecy in order to make the most of this extraordinary town and setting.