France Cycling Tours Lake Annecy
France cycling tours may come in all shapes and sizes, look at our Lake Annecy custom bike trip that was organised with Practice Bicycle Tours.
We are not avid riders, so we went for some comfortable riding with a challenge or two along the way and to break up our stay we also organised an extra day of exploring by vehicle. It was a bit of the their ‘Villages of France’ itinerary and a bit of the more challenging ‘Taste of the Alps’ rides.
We had the most amazing personal ‘Welcome Arrival’ by Bridget & Paul at Geneva Airport followed by a tranquil and short trip to Lake Annecy. With travel still buzzing in our ears we needed all the PB experience to get us into ready for our great week of cycling ahead. First it was a quick stop for lunch in the lovely village of Cruseilles, at a delightful local boulangerie and a “picnic” in the town’s square, greeted with midday church bells, so French!
Not to waste great weather, upon arrival at our superb centrally located hotel in Annecy we quickly changed gears, if you will, and embarked on a magnificent picturesque short ride through the surrounding hills with perfect weather and lovely views of the valley and Annecy.
A rare day with a bit of grey in the sky but a quick change of plans allowed for a visit to the Piccard Bell museum to learn about the process of bell making and the rich history of exceptional musical bell production in Annecy. An unexpected and fascinating ‘bonus’ too our rainy morning! This was followed by exploration of the planned cycling route by car and foot with a small walk on a part of the route up the col du marais to a fabulous lunch spot overlooking Mont Charvin. This taste of superb mountain food fuelled us for a little more walking along the road to experience the countryside and enjoying the fresh air of the Alps!
The PB France cycling tours have a reputation for being custom and all their local knowledge was needed to full fill our dreams. Determined to not let the unpredictable French Alps weather get us down we embarked on our explorer day in the Bauges Park area with stops at local ceramists and shops featuring varied works of local artists with the dramatic backdrop of exceptionally charming villages and stunning countryside. There was clothes shopping and any manner of interesting curiosities to be discovered, but what makes the experience so exceptional is the opportunity to visit many artists workshops and meet the creators. A particularly special experience was meeting a local wood crafter who learned to turn wood from his father and grandfather before him and who persists after more than 50 years in keeping the tradition of hand turned wood products alive using a foot pedal and hand tools to create his pieces.
A spectacular lunch is also a specialty of Practice Bicycle everyday a hidden choice restaurant will just pop out of nowhere especially for us! Today they chose the lovely village of Beaufort which was on the planned tour de France route from this year as well as a stop in the town of Albertville at an exceptional Tea shop for a hot chocolate and patisserie to round out this extraordinary day of cultural experience.
A brisk day after yesterdays rain although it was perfect for riding, with a lovely ascent out of Annecy followed by country lanes, along the shelf following the edge of massive rock formations, and over the gorgeous (and vertigo inducing) suspension bridge to the unbelievably charming medieval village of Alby sur cheran.
It sounds quick to say it but its amazing to see it all by bike, at a slow pace so you don’t miss anything.
A scrumptious lunch in the incredibly tranquil and beautiful setting of this village, once home to over 300 shoemakers, it was hard to say goodbye and pedal home.
With the weather looking up we embarked on a splendid forest climb up the Col de Frettallaz through the splendid pre-alps, a gentle grade perfect for lung expansion and gentle climbing alike. Nothing could be more tranquil or relaxing than this challenging ride though the countryside and along quite roads with farms and old buildings dotting the land. The good news of this hard workday on the bike with a loop out and back to Annecy was rewarded by a spectacular lunch by the side of the Lake, it translated to Queen of Meadows restaurant and was owned by the daughter of a famous 3* Michelin Chef. Even the burger is special which is really saying something about the quality of the food. A short roll home is absolutely in order after today’s ride and a scrumptious lunch.
Today an Anncey “classic” and local favorite climb is in order, the Col de Leschaux into the spectacular Bauges national park. This ride deserves its status as a local favorite and Tour de France favorite too. A near perfect grade for 20 km takes you up to Leschaux, the gateway to countless tranquil and stunning roads in the Bauges. Worry not the climb is rewarded by a spectacular lunch somewhere in the middle of this beautiful place.
PB know how to turn it on, they knew we loved chicken and my birthday was coming soon. We celebrated with a special pre-organized salt crusted chicken and beetroot with risotto and green salad feast, superb mountain food and a very special way to say au revoir to Lake Annecy and the French Alps! Did I mention the perfect poached apricots in a mint and verveine “tea” with lime sorbet? Need I say more. The climb home while a bit of challenge is equally spectacular and so well fuelled that you nearly forget how much your legs are hurting.
The perfect end to a perfect practice bicycle holiday!