A route linking Switzerland to the Mediterranean by bike, along the Rhône River

The project consists of the further development of the ViaRhôna cycle route, which leads from the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland to the beaches of the Mediterranean in France, following the Rhône River.

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The project consists of continuing the development of the ViaRhôna cycle route. ©Creative Commons The project consists of continuing the development of the ViaRhôna cycle route. ©Creative Commons

" The project provides an optimal response to environmental, tourism and economic issues. Close consultation with the main players in the area (cycling associations, fishermen, hunters, farmers, naturalists, etc.) has also helped to enrich it. "

Fabien Rouvier, Road Operations Manager, Research and Works Department, Infrastructure Department, Savoie Departmental Council

ViaRhôna is a cycling route of 815 km in the process of being completed. It guides tourists by bike from the alpine panoramas to the beaches of the Camargue, crossing the emblematic landscapes of the vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône and those of southern Provence: hilltop villages, lavender and olive fields, and gastronomic discoveries. 

ViaRhôna is a route that takes in more than 2,000 years of history and rich heritage, alternating between safe greenways and shared routes.

A strong focus on sustainable development

Cycle tourism is a strong axis of development because it generates significant economic spin-offs in the hotel, restaurant, cultural and leisure sectors. In addition, it promotes a mode of travel that does not result in greenhouse gas emissions. The development of cycle tourism thus makes it possible to strengthen the appeal of the Rhône Valley for river tourism by improving welcome and access conditions, thereby contributing to the economic activity of the basin.

Since 2014, the European Union, via the Region, has been supporting the finalisation of the development of the ViaRhôna cycle route, the coordination of governance, and the development of innovative services. A total of EUR 6.3 million from the ERDF is available to support projects along the Rhône and Saône rivers. 

A flagship destination for cycle tourism in Europe

Since the start of the programme, the Rhône-Saône POI has thus supported 14 operations under the ERDF for the ViaRhôna project, including 10 operations to develop the cycle route in the valley of Rhône: Le Pouzin/Rochemaure section (Communauté de communes [joint local authority] Ardèche Rhône Coiron); Lamotte section of Rhône-Avignon (Department of Vaucluse); Les Angles-Aramon section (Department of Gard); Rhône crossing between La Balme (Department of Savoie) and Virignin (Department of Ain); Rhône crossing between Roche de Glun (Department of Drôme) and Glun (Department of Ardèche); section of Saint-Gingolph-Locum (Commune of Saint-Gingolph); two-way cycle path in the commune of Thonon-Les-Bains (Commune of Thonon-les-Bains); section Tour Carbonière-Pont de Provence, at Aigues-Mortes (Department of Gard); completion of the ViaRhôna - section Virignin (Communauté de communes du Bugey Sud); development of the ViaRhôna in the west of the territory of Les Balcons du Dauphiné (Communauté de communes des Balcons du Dauphiné).

As for the rest, the project includes three operations for the development of innovative services (Géovélo digital app, creation of new Sun e-bike welcome and rental sites, Benur tricycle with electric assistance without wheelchair transfer) as well as a promotional and communication operation.

More than 40 km of cycle routes have already been created. The ViaRhôna route, which is well advanced in its development, is now integrated into the EuroVelo network under the name EuroVelo 17. By joining the EuroVelo network, EuroVelo 17 is positioning itself as one of the best destinations for bicycle tourism in Europe.

Total investment and European funding 

Total investment for the project “Development of the ViaRhôna cycle route from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean” is EUR 12 412 322; the European Regional Development Fund contribution is EUR 2 096 744 through the “ERDF Rhône-Saône Interregional Operational Programme (POI)”  for the 2014-2020 programming period.