Home > Geneva to Annecy: Famous Climbs and Lesser-known Passes
Designed for serious cyclists, this tour links three of Europe's most beautiful lakes: Geneva, Bourget and Annecy. Follow in the tracks of your Tour de France heroes as you cycle thrilling mountain passes, take in stunning panoramas and pass through picturesque Alpine villages.
Replenish your energy with some regional specialities — such as the famous Beaufort cheese and Chartreuse, the intensely aromatic liqueur made by monks high up in the mountains — before exploring the many historic churches, museums and monuments you'll encounter on the way.
The tour also takes you into the heart of the Savoy wine region, through notable wine-growing villages such as Apremont, Abymes and Chignin, famed for light, crisp whites that carry the delicate scent of Alpine flowers.
For travel and cycling tips to the French Alps, visit our "Travel and cycling tips" section.
Arrive in Geneva at your leisure. Take time to discover this international city and its alluring lake on your own. In the beautiful old town you’ll find authentic Swiss restaurants; for international fare, plenty of restaurants are located in the Paquis district. Depending on the option you choose, you will lodge in downtown Geneva or across the border in a quiet French suburb.
In the morning, you will meet our staff and be provided with all the necessary materials (our kit includes marked maps, detailed route notes, tourist information, and a pre-loaded GPS) for the next few days’ adventures.
Today’s itinerary takes you through pretty Swiss villages such as Avully, Cartigny, Russin and Chancy before entering France through the Usses valley. You will then head up into the Jura mountains and the passes of Col de Richemond — included in the 2012 Tour de France — and Col de la Biche. The stage ends in the charming town of Seyssel, which straddles the Rhone River.
From Seyssel, you cycle through the wine-growing region of Chautagne before riding through Culoz at the foot of the Col du Grand Colombier, one of France's most challenging mountain passes. Making its Tour de France début in 2012, Colombier's steepest section has a punishing gradient of 10.2% — but all that effort will be rewarded with spectacular views of the region.
After visiting the pretty village of Chanaz, the route takes you to the shores of Lake Bourget, whose brilliant blue waters are home to more than 30 species of fish and various rare birds. As France's largest lake, it’s also a top destination for windsurfing, kayaking, water-skiing, diving and a range of other sports.
The ride ends at the foot of the Alps in Aix-les-Bains, Bourget's most important town and a popular spa resort. Investigate Roman ruins or ramble through lush gardens before heading to the town's historic center, where bustling cafés and first-rate restaurants exude Belle Epoque charm.
Today’s ride will take you out of Aix-les-Bains and towards Sainte-Hélène-sur-Isère through the beautiful Bauges mountains, one of France’s best-kept secret areas. Your GPS will take you on very quiet roads where you are bound to experience zen-like moments as you ride in total silence with views over the nearby Aravis, Chartreuse, and Belledone mountains.
The big climb of the day is Mont-Revard, a 21 km/13 mile climb featured in The Tour 5 times.
Your ride will end in either of the picturesque towns of Tournon or Saint-Pierre-d’Albigny, depending on your hotel preference.
The final ride of the tour first takes you from Tournon or Saint-Pierre-d’Albigny to Annecy via the Olympic town of Albertville, home of the 1992 Winter Games.
On your way, you will ride two famous mountain passes. First up is the challenging Col des Saisies, with an ascent of around 15 km and a gradient of 6.4%. Next is the Col des Aravis, featured in the Tour almost 40 times, 12-km climb and an average gradient of 5%.
The ride ends by Lake Annecy, which hosted a time-trial in the 2009 Tour and was featured in the 2013 Tour de France. Canals crisscross the medieval town center — hence its “Venice of the Savoy” nickname — and a medieval castle dominates. For a truly relaxing end to your holiday, take a dip in Lake Annecy's turquoise waters or simply sunbathe on its shores.
You can depart at the time of your choice. We highly recommend spending a few hours strolling through the old part of Annecy, one of France’s prettiest towns.
3 nights in 2-star hotels, 1 night in a comfortable guesthouse, and 1 night in a 3-star
hotel (in Gaillard, just 7 km/4 miles from the center of Geneva)
3 nights in 3-star hotels, 1 night in a guesthouse of charm & 1 night in a 2-star hotel (in Seyssel)