Stage 3 (Via Gebennensis) Geneva – Chavanay – Mountain bike the Camino Santiago

June 2014, Geneva (Switzerland). The journey continues.

This stage has a length of about 230 Km in 5 1/2 days. It starts in Geneva at the Lake Geneva, and passes directly the French border, heading south west. In Geneva we cross the river Rhone, and 230 Km later we end this stage at her banks. The mountains are not too high, max 800m, and in total there are 5000m altitude difference. Since in stage 2 the 70 Km/day were to many, we reduced it to about 50 Km/day.

Map by (c)

Day 1.Starting at 11 am in Geneva, since we took the car from our home town. Finding a parking place for a week here is a challenge, one needs something with a blue line around, they are free… 🙄

Near Geneva, after the city limit

Near Geneva, after the city limit

After 6 Km the way climbs steeply into the mountains, and we find the first French single trail 😀

First French trail

First French single trail

 The hotel at the Col de Mont Sion is the only reserved one on this trip, since we had never problems with late reservation in Switzerland.

Day 2, again perfect weather, the todays destination is Culoz, about 50 Km away in the Rhone valley.

Canyon near Chaumont

Canyon near Chaumont

Camino Via Gebennensis mtb Old bridge over the canyon

Old bridge over the canyon

There are some nice trails today, and even the tracks are bumpy. Full use of the full suspension.

The weather forecast for the entire week is perfect, no rain at all. But as we finally reach Culoz a fat thunderstorm is already roaring in the mountains.

No problem, Google says there is a nice hotel in downtown, and true there is one with the adequate name “Hotel de Ville”. I enter the hotel and ask for a room for the night. I’m a bit surprised since there is a police man walking around in the office. Anyhow, I’m flexible, but the receptionist not. They have rooms for the night, but not for us today: Hotel de Ville is no hotel in France, it is the mayors house and sometimes the police station in France!

I think the receptionist will tell this story her grandchild’s still in 20 years from now.

No other hotels in the village, and all others around are closed or overbooked. The thunderstorm ravages in the mountains, we are tired and hungry. Finally we get the note from the receptionist of the not existing Hotel de Ville, that there is one in Artemare 10Km off the track, but the only chance. Just before it starts pouring we reach it. As a bonus, the hotel offers a great dinner!

Day 3. We awake and it still rains. Continue sleeping and it still rains. At 10 we must leave the room and it still rains. This is a bummer, because this stage looks awesome on the map, but no chance for us in the mountains, it is too dangerous under this conditions. We chicken on the street along the river to Saint Genix sur-Guiers, but there is also nothing available. Finally we end up in a 5* bed and breakfast, the “Domaine de Manoir”. This is not a bed and breakfast, this is a palace! If you are around, go there. Wonderful rooms, great garden with pool and a lovely dinner with the owner and other guests. It is 7Km off the Camino in the wrong direction, but it’s worth every meter!

Day 4, decent weather but still wet ground today, the next destination is La Côte-Saint-André, 50 Km away. This time we booked something near the local airport in the airport hotel. The mountains are getting lower now, about max 700m. Nice trails, bumpy tracks and some other hiking pilgrims today.

Camino Via Gebennensis Mtb

Camino Via Gebennensis Mtb

Close to the town, we ask Google navigator for a route to the hotel. We are heading direction to the airport, looks promising. We pass the airport, hm…. The airport is far behind us, and we are already on the other side of the valley…. Finally the smart phone says: “You reached the target, it is on the right side”. There is nothing except a strawberry field! Hrghh! 👿 Looks like the position of the hotel is wrong in Google maps, in reality it is more than 50 Km away!

Again we are tired and hungry. We phone around, either they are closed or full, or not reachable. We climb another hill, there is a guest house, but also full. Finally we end up in small, not very neat “hotel”, but 15 Km off the track.

Day 5, the final day, we want to reach the Rhone valley near Chavanay. It is a 70 Km stage, cornfields, hills and in the afternoon incredible hot.

Camino Via Gebennensis mtb Break in the shadow

Break in the shadow

Every bridge, every house and every tree is used to stay as long as possible in the shadow. Luckily there are enough springs on the Camino. In the afternoon we pass this guy, he pulls his own trailer:

Camino Via Gebennensis mtb Hiking pilgrim with trailer

Hiking pilgrim with trailer

The final destination for this stage is Les Roches de Condrieu, since Chavanay has no train station. This time we have a hotel reservation, even close to the train station, but when we reach it, it is still closed. We head to the train station to book the tickets for tomorrow, but the clerk says, she would propose driving today, since tomorrow is a train strike. Uups, the last train for today comes in one hour. We cancel the hotel, and around 10 pm we are in Geneva and at 2 am at home.

Tour Video:

Useful Links:

Free Citymaps

Next: Stage 4 (Via Gebennensis/Podiensis) Chavanay – Aumont Aubrac


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.