Bike / Bike Packing / Featured · September 19, 2022

Villeneuve to Evian

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

On this journey, we will be heading across the Swiss/French border and towards the luxurious tourist town of Evian on the shores of Lake Geneva.

Distance: 37km

Elevation: 200m

Time: 2-4hours

On the road out of Switzerland

For our overnight stop we stayed in Les Grangettes, a few kilometers out of Villeneuve. For context, last night a huge storm came over the French Alps/Mont Blanc, but it left a beautiful misty morning to set off into.

Our first major town we are heading for is Saint-Gingolph, right on the border between Switzerland and France.

As we follow Route 46, we come to an impressive bridge where we cross the Rhone river.

As you can see, it was a pretty spectacular day looking up towards the mountains. As we reach the otherside of the bridge it is the best illustration of how well the Swiss have designed their cycling operations. Just below this signpost is a large-scale map of the SwissMobility Cycle routes.

As the sign states, we are 6km from the border and approximately 19km from Evian.

Soon enough we are arriving in Saint-Gingolph and our departure from Swiss Cycle Paths and Route 46 ‘Finishes’ here and we are onto the French ‘ViaRhôna’ (Route 17) and ‘Tour Du Leman’.

Arriving at the French Border

I wasn’t sure what to expect when arriving at the border. Most of the blogs I had read online had been written pre-covid and pre-brexit (I hold a British passport), so I was unsure what to expect.

I had my passport handy just in case, however the border guards waved me through and it was one of the easiest border crossings I’ve ever experienced!

Onwards to Evian and French Cycle Paths

Now, out of my entire journey around Lake Geneva, this part of the route was my least favorite and for someone that cycles regularly in central London traffic, even I found this scary at times. But don’t let this put you off doing this trip, I would have definitely appreciated someone telling me beforehand so I could prepare myself mentally.

Coming from Switzerland, where almost all roads have dedicated paths or lanes for cyclists, immediately when you arrive in France, you will notice straight away, this is not the case here. This is best explained by ‘a picture paints 1000 words’. As shown below.

It is important to note, this is the main road/national highway (Rue Nationale) between the border and the next main town of Evian, your cycle lane is at-best 30cm and you’ll have cars, buses and sometimes trucks overtaking you.

Thankfully, you only have to live with this for about 0.8 of a km before you meet a path which takes you above the road following a disused railway track.

I’d note here, cycling signage in France is also less frequent/intermittent compared to Switzerland.

The path (above the road) is mostly flat and protects you from the twisty narrow highway below. You follow this for approximately 3km before you are back on the national highway.

This part of the highway is very narrow but thankfully overtaking is not permitted but you do end up with a queue of cars behind you, so I often found myself pulling off into small laybys to let them past which was tiring to stop and start again.

This part of the journey I would say is character building, but if you break it down into sections with mental breaks you will get through it.

Arriving in Evian

The reward, soon you are arriving in the beautiful town of Evian, of course home to the world famous water, but also has some beautiful buildings and a very delightful promenade.

After that journey, I treated myself to a hot lunch of chicken and potatoes on some benches by the shore of the lake, right in front of the Savoy Hotel (I expect they wouldn’t let a stinky bike packer into their hotel!).

Onwards to St Disdille

To finish the day, 10km up the road from the center of Evian is St Disdille, a small village on the lakeshore with a large, well maintained camping ground.

The site has very well looked after facilities, a large restaurant and shop. The area for tents is situated under some shady trees. I used the afternoon sun to dry everything out from the previous night’s rain storm.

Their restaurant also has quite an extensive ice cream menu!

At the time I visited, the shop did not sell bottles of water, so if you are looking for water to cover the next stage of the journey or to pick up some items for breakfast on the road, I’d recommend doing this in Evian before arriving.

Next Stop – back into Geneva via Yvorie

On this final stage of this journey around Lake Geneva, we set up towards the medieval town of Yvorie, before taking the country lanes back into Switzerland and descending down into the city center of Geneva, where our journey started 5 days ago.