Biking Lake Leman
A leisure bike trip around the lake
First of all, these are the experiences of an amateur cycler.
When I was young, I had my dreams of being a professional cyclist. Then I had a "course bicycle", a 10 speed Peugeot. After it was stolen and after 10 years of doing nothing of cycling, I quit that idea.
Now I cycle just for fun.
Lake Leman is one of the most pleasant routes for leisure cyclists. Cycling in Geneva is completely a pleasure.
About Lake Leman
Lake Leman (aka "Lake Geneva" or "Genfersee") is the largest lake of Switzerland. France also have some shores of the lake.
Before this, I had a train trip from Geneva to Montreux, which is all the north shore of the lake. South shore belongs mostly to France.
As you can guess from its shape, the lake is formed by a glacier.
In older times, the lake was called "Lake of Lausanne". After Geneva had prospered and the influence of the city grew, the lake was started to be known as "Lake of Geneva".
The Bicycle Route
We should be thankful for Swiss activists for the quality of bicycle routes. I've been familiar only in French-speaking part of Switzerland, but It's well known that all Switzerland is full of such quality bicycle routes.
The route wraps all around Lake Leman. Most of the route is allocated "only to bicycles". For little parts of the route, you ride with the automobiles. I don't have the exact figure but as far as I observed, the distribution is like this:
|Allocated to bicycles, apart from the main road||70%|
|Allocated to bicycles, on the main road, at the right side||20%|
|Not allocated to bicycles, you ride on the right of the road||10%|
But even for the worst case, when you ride on the road without any allocation, you ride safely.
Swiss drivers are very respectful to bicycles, I had not even one incident while I was cycling, neither did I hear any from my friends. But they drive frightfully fast, above the speed limits.
Road to Nyon
The bicycle route travels all around the lake of course, but I chose to go to Lausanne and ride back to Geneva. After I looked at the map and carefully calculated the distance, I decided to pick a less challenging goal at first.
I would go to Nyon, make a sightseeing and return back to Geneva.
The distance to Nyon from Geneva is approximately 25 km. Along the road, you also visit the villages Versoix and Coppet. It looked like a good travel for the first time around Leman.
Also, I had some smaller cycling on the east side of the lake, to Vesénaz.
Both are possible. As I said, my sole intention was to take a leisure trip along the route. But I encountered lots of professional cyclists. Many of them. With their specialized suits, professional bags and really good bicycles.
But also there were others, like me. Or even kids biking in their neighborhood.
But either case, "be prepared for the perfect mixture of nature, history and civilization". Even a short trip like mine will give you more than enough pleasures of cycling and sightseeing.
My bicycle was a mountain-bike. A good one, but apparently not suitable for smooth and rather flat route.
Nyon and Environs
Versoix & Coppet
On the way to Nyon, I passed little villages of Versoix and Coppet.
Especially Coppet was very nice with historical buildings and nice sightseeing.
I highly recommend to take a break and have little inside-village tour.
A couple of kilometers before Nyon, I saw a professional cyclist, leaving the route and heading for the village "Céligny". The village could easily be seen from distance, as it was in the middle of plain fields. I decided to go to Céligny while returning from Nyon. But I couldn't do it, because I was too tired to consider extra kilometers.
Now I regret it. I should take small trips to nearby villages.
Nyon is a nice little town near the lake. I knew nothing about the town, so I was quite surprised just after I started to wander around the streets.
Nyon was a Roman outpost and founded around 50 BC by the Romans. You can find Roman remnants on various places. Also there's a statue of Julius Caesar, which I think it's a rarity outside Italy.
Apart from Roman heritage, Nyon has lots to see. The castle has a magnificent view of the lake. You should take some time walking on the narrow streets and narrow stairs from the castle descending to the shore.
I looked at the route continuing to Lausanne and sighed. For a moment, I considered continuing to Lausanne. But I was very tired. In fact I was not sure to complete my way return.
But anyway, you shouldn't be afraid of not completing your route. You have an option to take the train and carry your bicycle with you. Trains have special cars for bicycles, though you should pay additional fee for it.
The railroad almost follows the shoreline and the bicycle road. So you always have the option to use the train.
Return to Geneva
The return trip was more painful.
I didn't notice how I was unprepared for this trip. After having a one-hour break in Nyon, I found out that I was exhausted.
After leaving Nyon, I forgot about my plans of visiting nearby villages and continued my way to Geneva.
When I first saw the giant fountain of Geneva from far away, I was the happiest one around. After an exhausting return way, I finally arrived to the city center.
Now, when I'm writing this, days after this trip, I realize that it was one of my best experiences.
I'll not forget the clean, smooth bicycle road, just sliding near green forests, fields and old city houses. In a few places on earth, you can make such an exciting and at the same time safe cycling.
If you happen to have a chance, I recommend you to try it.