Bike / Bike Packing / Featured · September 18, 2022

Bikepacking – Geneva to Rolle via Saint Cergue

This post is part of the ‘Bikepacking Lake Geneva Series’ – a 5 day epic journey following Route 46 Cycle Route in Switzerland.

Distance: 71km

Elevation: 889m

Time: 4-6hours

A trip to the mountains and back to the lake

On this first part of the ride, we are heading out of Geneva and up to the town of Rolle, our first nights stop on this bike packing adventure. At the town of Nyon, we will take a detour up into the mountains to the ski village of St Cergue.

Departing Geneva

Setting off from the waterfront in downtown Geneva as the sunrises, it’s coming from the east so makes a beautiful glow across the water. Thankfully, we’re traveling north east, so as we glide out of town on the cycle path route 1 (our main marker around the lake for this 5 day journey) the sun isn’t shining in our eyes. 

The path here is wide and separate from the traffic, thou setting off early, you won’t encounter much. As were bikepacking this journey, we’re in no hurry, unlike the early morning pelotons of cyclists setting off to try and achieve the full 177km in just one day. Our first stop for the night is the quaint town of Rolle, approximately 34km up the road.

34km!? That is only a few hours cycle at most! So within this trip, we are going to do a few side trips along the way. As were in Switzerland, alongside the beautiful lake is also magnificent and majestic mountains. More on our first adventure in a minute.

As we glide out of Geneva, past the embassy’s with their fortified gates and lake frontage, we are soon into the country side, still following route 46 we get glimpses of the lake through the trees.

At Versoix, we cross into the Canton of Vaud, and after 22km we arrive in Nyon, the start (and finish point) of our first side adventure. But first, it’s breakfast (or brunch) time, especially if you left Geneva like me on a Sunday when not much was open.

Arriving in Nyon for Brunch

Beautiful Streets of Nyon

I can definitely recommend Tête de Course – Restaurant, a bike friendly restaurant and coffee shop that serves brunch/all day menu. They have bike racks outside so you can ride up and lock your bike without having to worry.

Tête de Course Cafe – Nyon

Breakfast at Tête de Course Cafe

Side adventure – Uphill to Saint Cergue via Arzier-Le Muids

It’s now time for our first adventure. We are going to climb out of Nyon going up the Saint Cergue, a popular ski resort but with a magnificent down hill ride with panoramic views of the lake.

Nyon -> Saint Cergue via Duillier, Genolier and  Arzier-Le Muids

Now, if you’re bike packing, you are going to want to shed some weight as this is an uphill climb of 890m (1090m at the top). A safe way to do this is to use the luggage lockers at the Swiss Railway station – in this case Nyon. A large locker costs CHF8 (these are huge) and a small one costs CHF6 – both for 24hrs. Unload your stuff and keep the key in a safe place! 

Keep your key safe!

We recommend doing this route in the clockwise direction as the Route De Nyon is very steep and offers very little places to pull off and let traffic pass, so it is much more enjoyable to tackle this part of the route on the downhill and is also safer for cars overtaking you.

Through villages of Duillier and Genolier

This early part of the climb is quite easy going, with some gentle slopes going uphill and then flat through the villages. You’ll pass through (if in summer!) fields of corn and sunflowers growing all around you.

As you arrive in Genolier, the next few km are tough as you push up through lots of switchbacks on the route up to Arzier-Le Muids. But trust me, it is worth it.

Arriving in Genolier

Route to Arzier and St Cergue

Riding up to Arzier is tricky if you are on a trekking bike and will make use of all the gears you have available. However the road has plenty of stopping points and many of these reward you with an amazing view down over the lake.

While there isn’t a dedicated cycle lane, cars give you a lot of space when overtaking and there are no blind corners. You are treated to lush alpine style forest on both sides.

The uphill incline to St Cergue

Arriving in St Cergue

Known for outdoor activities all year around (summer – walking, hiking and mountain biking; winter – cross country skiing), you arrive in the small town of St Cergue, with the welcoming sight of restaurants and cafes ready to reward you after a tough ride up 600m+.

Main street in St Cergue

The route downhill to Nyon

The trip down offers an amazing view of the lake and across to France. About 5 minutes out side the town, as you round a right hand bend, you’ll see a car park on the right, you can easily pull off and cross the road for this epic view.

The view on the Route De Nyon

Along the switchbacks heading back to Nyon.

As you head down the Route De Nyon, I recommend approximately half-way down, taking the quieter ‘Route De Saint Cergue, a less busy road that takes you through beautiful alpine forest. This road also returns to the original route in Duillier for you to cycle back to the railway station and collect your things.

Route De Saint Cergue – a beautiful quiet road.

Arriving back in Nyon

If you set off early, Nyon is a great place to stop for some lunch by the lakeside. There are plenty of cafes and supermarkets which offer a quick lunch option for you to take your wheels and enjoy the sunshine before the final part of the journey for the day up the road to Rolle.

By the lakeside for lunch in Nyon

Nyon to Rolle

Google Maps describes this part of the ride as ‘relatively flat’, which it is, apart from one big hill half way. Thankfully the cycle lane means you aren’t a hindrance to the traffic and can tackle at your own pace.

The road into Rolle

Arriving in Rolle

On this trip, I stayed at the Camping Rolle site, which is just a few minutes outside of Rolle on the shore and is well equipped with a beautiful view to wake up to and a very nice restaurant with a shop allowing you to restock with snacks for the road.

Camping spot for Tents at Camping Rolle

Bike Packing Tent Setup

In total today, we covered over 71km and climbed 889m (and back down) on this first day of our Lake Geneva adventures.

Next Stop Lausanne

In our next post, we cover the journey from Rolle up to Lausanne, a short 27km ride up the road.