A BIKE RIDE THROUGH VAUD’S VINEYARDS
by Alexandra Osváth
We love Geneva, but sometimes it’s nice to venture out a little. In COVID-19 times, frequent bike rides around the wider Geneva area have satisfied our wanderlust and helped us feel like true locals as we get to know tiny villages and farms – the city’s rural heartbeat.
On this bike ride, you’ll travel just outside the city to explore the vineyards and sweeping lake views from the hills of the next canton over, Vaud. If you’ve ever gone to Lausanne (or to the outlet shopping in Aubonne), you may have noticed the rolling vineyards opposite to the lake. I’d always said I’d like to explore that area by bike – and this route was the answer.
On this itinerary (thanks to the Morges tourism bureau!) you’ll take the train from Geneva to Nyon, which is only 15 minutes, and then bike through the vineyards (not along the main road) to Morges. You can also do the itinerary the other way around, starting in Morges.
Another option is to end the trip early by cutting over to the train station in Rolle and returning to Geneva by train. We took the latter option as it was getting dark (and cold) but if we’d left earlier in the day we could have continued on to Morges, which is a cute town and worth strolling around. Incidentally, it’s also where Audrey Hepburn got married in 1969, for our Breakfast at Tiffany’s fans.
THE ROUTE – “Route du vignoble de la côte”
For the train ride, we loaded our bikes onto the wagon that had the symbol of a bicycle on the outside. It’s easier of course if it’s one of the more modern regional trains that doesn’t have steps up to the carriage, but you may not always get so lucky.
From Nyon, we exited the train station on the back side, by the cute outdoor café which has a yurt in front of it in winter. We took a slight right uphill, cycling away from the lake into the countryside. Google Maps did a great job of guiding us – check out the itinerary here.
We first passed a stately mansion which is home to Agroscope, the Swiss agricultural research institute. We then continued through the woods briefly before joining up with a two-lane road along farmland that led to our first stop, the charming village of Duillier. From the white-walled castle to the sprawling vineyards and fields, Duillier is small but idyllic.
Next, we took narrow farm roads that meandered through vineyards. Quite a few locals were out walking with their families and dogs, and many people greeted us along the way. We stopped often to take pictures of the vast farmland, Lake Geneva and the distant Alps, a bluish hue in the late afternoon.
As we did this bike ride in autumn the grapes had already been harvested, but we spotted one last bunch.
Church bells rang from a chapel in sleepy Gilly, resounding through the vineyards. We took a well-deserved rest and snack break on a bench in front of the church, taking in the views.
As night was quickly falling, we decided to cut our trip and head back to Rolle. At that point we’d been exploring for a a little over two hours, including stops. As suggested above, if you start your ride earlier in the day you can continue on to Morges and catch the train back to Geneva from there.