If you’re planning to be near Annecy, France, bring your bike

During a discussion we were having about cycling in Switzerland, my friend Leo once asked me “Do you like to climb?”. I looked at him with a puzzled expression. Having done most of my cycling in my home state of Minnesota, I wasn’t aware that “climbing” on your bike was something that people routinely and intentionally set out to do. Finally, I muttered, “I’ll climb if there’s a hill in front of me, but I prefer mostly just riding.” Evidently, a lot of people seek out mountains to climb on their bikes, including my friend Leo. I still prefer a more casual ride, and we found an awesome one along Lac Annecy, near the town of Annecy, France.

We awoke early on a Sunday morning, had our coffee, and then went down and loaded our bikes into the car. (Those of you with good memories will recall that I once posted a blog entitled emphatically, “Car? We don’t need no stinking car!” Guess what? I changed my mind. Turns out that it’s actually come in quite handy for out of town excursions, which we are taking more regularly these days.) We own a Honda “Jazz”, which is called a “Fit” in the U.S, and one might think that two bikes won’t Fit in a Fit, but Fit they do, as demonstrated in the photo below.

Bikes in our car

I would’ve had a Fit if our bikes didn’t Fit in our Fit, but they Fit!

Annecy is a charming town in France, just 40 minutes from Geneva along a scenic highway through a pastoral countryside. (The fall colors are still out in full force here, which is different than what I am used to in Minnesota, where they “peak” for a few days but then – like everything else – succumb to winter.) I drove along thinking, “if it’s this beautiful from behind the wheel of our car, I can only imagine how beautiful (albeit, harder on my derrière) it will be from the saddle of my bike.”

Upon our arrival, it didn’t take long to discover the grandeur of what we would witness on or ride. I took this photo before I even climbed aboard my bike.

Beautiful view

Tree, fog, mountain, sky. Our view from the trailhead.

Like many bikeways in the states, this one is constructed on an old railroad right-of-way, which means it’s nice and flat. It is beautifully maintained, and wide enough for everyone to safely navigate in both directions. Here’s a picture I stopped to take of the path, the scenery, and a rider safely passing in the opposite direction.

Beautiful path and view

It’s so damn beautiful that if you’re not careful you’ll ride right off the path!

Okay, I can hear you clamoring: “Video, Swiss Sojourner! We demand a video!!” I shot this one on the way out, eastbound out of Annecy. Take particular note of how damn pretty everything is.

At the end of the video, you may have noticed that the path enters a tunnel. Here’s what the inside of the tunnel looks like, in case you’ve never seen the inside of a very long tunnel on a bike path.

Bikeway tunnel

This tunnel was built for a train, now used exclusively for bikes.

We rode about twelve miles out, stopped and enjoyed a picnic lunch that we had packed, whined a little bit about our sore asses, then got back on our bikes. I mentioned the beautiful fall colors we enjoyed on the car ride down. Here’s how they look from along the bike path.

Fall colors

More beautiful fall colors, from the hard and unyielding saddle of my bike

Finally, I took this video on the home stretch just before returning to our car. This video features a view of the Lake, with “foothills” of the French Alps in the background. I’m told its possible to ride your bike up into those mountains. I’ll be sure to let Leo know.

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