Viarhôna by bicycle between Seyssel and Lyon with a dog

Viarhôna by bicycle between Seyssel and Lyon with a dog

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Sommaire : La Via Rhôna à vélo entre Seyssel et Lyon avec un chien
Choice and preparation of the viarhôna
Day 1: Chamonix - Seyssel - Brégnier Cordon
Day 2: Brégnier Cordon - Ile de la greenhouse
Day 3: Ile de la Serre - Lyon
Practical information for this via rhôna by bike between Seyssel and Lyon with a dog
Dog trailer
Pull the trailer (with or without Iskut)
The dog and the trailer
Liberty dog management
As a bonus

Choice and preparation of the viarhôna

J’avais un rêve qui paraissait un peu fou : voyager à vélo avec mon chien. Le voyage à vélo, j’ai déjà fait : tour de l’Angleterre pour le plus grand (2200 kilomètres), mais aussi traversée du Massif Central (GTMC), de la Corse, du Jura… A chaque fois en bivouac, avec un itinéraire plus ou moins tracé et en mode aventure. Voyager avec le chien, j’ai aussi déjà fait, notamment cet hiver avec la mini traversée du jura en ski pulka, et avant en Finlande dans le parc national d’Hossa. Mais voyager à vélo avec le chien,ça, je n’ai jamais fait !La Viarhôna à vélo entre Seyssel et Lyon avec un chien La Viarhôna à vélo entre Seyssel et Lyon avec un chien

So the bicycle trip with a dog is first of all a question: is it possible?The answer is clearly yes, if we search the internet, we find stories of people who have done so, over immense distances, through lots of distant countries.So why not me?

Traveling with the dog, it's a lot of questions and a little logistics.First of all, how to transport your dog: Iskut is 40 kilograms, it's a sleigh dog so he can run about 20 - 30 kilometers a day when it's not too hot.After I plan to tow a trailer to cover more distance, but also to put the dog safe if you ever have to drive on roads that circulate a lot.I chose the route according to the dog and the trailer: the dish and the maximum of cycle paths far from the cars to be able to let it run to the maximum.

My choice fell on the Viarhôna, between Seyssel and Lyon.200 kilometers on the clock, to be carried out in 4 days.Advance by 50 kilometers a day seemed to me to be feasible with the dog and the trailer, without being too hard.Especially since on this section there the route is very flat and with a lot of cycle paths.The top.The return will be made by train.

The dog does not add so much bazaar as that in the bags.You have to think of its food, a water bowl, a leash and a long lanyard if you ever have to attach it to the campsite, and a muzzle for the train.And of course the trailer.

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Day 1: Chamonix - Seyssel - Brégnier Cordon

+ 122 m / – 160 m62,8 km

Departure around 7:30 am from the house.I am very motivated and very happy because it does not rain.In this period (May), it is something rare.I was abandoned by my teammates who were afraid of the rain.I understand them, the announced weather is terrible, and it's been days that it rains without stopping.Going by bike this day requires a great motivation.But for me, it is now or never, I take the job next week until November, it's my only niche.I fix the bike on my small car, the dog gets on the passenger seat, and let's go for the adventure!

After 5 kilometers, he starts to rain and morale takes a hit.Too bad, I left, I continue, we will see if it continues to rain in Seyssel, 100 kilometers further ... The answer is yes.

I sit in the station parking lot, opens in Iskut which in a solidarity way remains in the car dry.He doesn't want to get the little down!I go up the trailer, resets the wheels (it is so big that it did not return to my car!), Put the bags on my bike, then I await a lull in the car.She arrives quickly and here we go to the viarhôna.

The first meters are a bit complicated.How to manage Iskut that I didn't put on a leash?He remains on the left of my wheel, when I would like him to be on the right, to have the bike between him and the cars.In short since there is no car, it does not matter.We quickly reach the start of the cycle path, the dog runs in front, there is no one, and we are happy.The height of happiness, the rain stops after 15 minutes!

We run along the Rhône, the vegetation is very green and lush, and the cycle path is in perfect condition.After 3 kilometers, we arrive at the first "difficulties".The topo nous prévient d’une route partagée, on passe sur une départementale, et ça monte.I choose to hold iskut on a leash by hand, he masters.Everything is going well until you come across a dead badger on the side, which looks very interesting in the eyes of Iskut.A little authority later, we continue to move forward.I had thought of a lot of problems in dog management, but not that one!And we have left for 3 kilometers.What is the continuation of us?

We alternate between road with little traffic and pedestrian path.I go out a bit from the classic route to take paths, where there is much less traffic.It is not at all suitable for the trailer that pushes me in the descents made slippery by the rain.It's a bit of mountain biking with a bike not at all suitable, but it does not matter.At least we are far from cars.

I then join the cycle path and the first cycle tourists.Inevitably the dog brings a lot of questions: how many kilometers can he run?And then you put it in the trailer?Where are we going ?It's nice to share, even if I don't have the answer to all the questions.Typically I don't know how many Iskut kilometers will run a day.I had imagined that after 10 kilometers, it would be tired and I would put it in the trailer.Even if he resorts later in the day.But this morning, after 15 kilometers, he is still racing with bikes and I struggle to catch up.At least we move forward and rather fast!

First passage in the trailer for the dog.In the idea of a bicycle trip, I taught him very young to stay in it.But it is not always easy and of course the dog prefers to run only to stay quiet.Finally this morning, after 10 kilometers, it remains wisely seated.I had to improve the trailer by cutting the roof, because ISKUT is definitely far too big!In this way it can sit quietly and enjoy the landscape.

La Viarhôna à vélo entre Seyssel et Lyon avec un chien

After the break in the sun to a small lake on the side of Culoz, Vanessa catches up with us.She comes from Ariège and made all the viarhôna of Thonon les Bains à Sète.Then she will continue to Toulouse via the Canal du Midi to go home.She’s a real bicycle traveler!We start to talk and finally we will drive together to Lyon!My solo adventure will have last two hours.

We advance well, chatting both.Iskut alternates between trailer and in freedom.The three of us are happy.We pass by Chanaz, nicknamed little Venice.It's beautiful, and there is life here!It's nice to see people, happy children, bikes, pedalos ... and the village is sublime, we arrive in his heart along a channel.There are some work here, but we don't get lost because the deviation routes are very well indicated.

On the side of Virignin, there is a point of vigilance noted on our topos.We find ourselves on a departmental that circulates quite a bit, and we have to cross two short tunnels.Not super safe here, fortunately the section is short.Iskut remains quiet in his trailer, as if he felt that it is not time to get out of it.A gateway is planned to cross the proud and avoid this part of the road.On my topo it is written that it will be finished at the end of 2017.On that of Vanessa at the end of 2019.But in 2021, she is still not in place!

After 60 kilometers, we decide to look for a corner where to plant the tent.The "lake" (the Rhône) and a magnificent beach make our eye.We are waiting for all tourists to leave to install our tents.This is one of the advantages of the fire cover at 7 p.m., it is that we are quiet in the evening!We even take advantage of a table and running water from external showers.On the other hand the restaurant is under construction, so impossible to buy beers (moreover there is always a decree which prohibits alcohol on the public highway) or a soda.Shame !

We manage the first technical problem of travel, a puncture on the trailer.I had planned rustins to repair, telling myself that the chances of dying were low on 4 days of travel.Finally it is the valve that has a problem, impossible to repair, you have to change the air chamber ... Hmm, I have only one 26 inches, and the wheels of the trailer are in 20 inches.Go on try and we will buy an air chamber tomorrow on the road.

Day 2: Brégnier Cordon - Ile de la greenhouse

+ 100 m / – 137 m62,2 km

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It was in fine rain that we fold the camp this morning.I set up a technique borrowed from the Treussier family found in their book 500 days by bicycle through Europe and Asia: put the interior and outside of the tent in two separate tight bags.In fact the soaked exterior does not wet the rest of the tent during the journey and we sleep dry at night after.It's just great!We make 200 meters to go breakfast dry under a bridge.We both slept very well, because it's calm.No car, no walker, nothing at all that can bother us at night or in the morning.

We leave, well -rested legs.After 5 kilometers, we decide to make a 4 -kilometer detour to go see the Glandieu waterfall.We didn't expect much, and it's just beautiful.It feels like Iceland in front of a curtain of water swollen by the rain of the night.And we're all alone!It's very nice and it's worth the detour.

Our makeshift repair is good, the wheel is slightly deformed so that makes "chboum chboum chboum".But it rolls and when Iskut is in the trailer, there is no more noise, it's perfect.We will stop at Morestel, under the sun again, to buy an air chamber and food for the future.We are looking for a place to eat towards the dungeon, but they are not accessible by bike (steps).We will break the crust in the middle of a small interior lesson, under the amused gaze of the inhabitants.Other cyclos will come to join us, and Iskut is as usual mascot.He gives a smile to the people we meet.We hear laughs, "Did you see the dog?"It’s the happiest in the world ”… everyone comes to talk to us, ask us questions, and finally the dog breaks the barriers between people.

We alternate on this section cycle paths and small shared roads, we feel well on the way.The viarhôna is very well indicated, we follow the panels without looking at the card, and we are surprised to advance so quickly.Iskut takes these habits in the trailer by testing new positions: standing with the front legs on the traction bar, the head placed on my bags, lying with the tail that goes beyond ... in short, it makes us laugh and occupies us a lot.The landscapes are quite varied, we alternate between forests and fields, more or less close to the Rhône, with the mountains in the background.The flowers are all out and the vegetation is very green.

We make a waffle stop at the Bleue Valley leisure center.Here there are a lot of people, families, children, dogs, and everyone seems to be very happy.It's a long weekend, campsites are full.This is not too much our cup of tea, we prefer to continue a little further and push to the Ile de la Serre campsite.Here it is a very different atmosphere, rather sporty because there is an artificial river for kayaks.We are welcomed with a "hello Maud" ....Hmm, I never came here, how do I know me?We have a common friend with the manager of the base and the campsite, who was there this morning, and who showed him our photo.People who travel by bike with a 40 -kilo dog, there are not many!

Here it is relaxation, we settle where we want in the campsite, no stress.We change the air chamber of the trailer (60 kilometers with a too large air chamber, and no problem, the technique is validated!).We share a beer with the locals, we re -inflate the trailer with a compressor and it's really great to meet new people.And as we say here: we are on an island, far from all reality, I love it!

The night at the campsite is a first for Iskut, and it is not that obvious to manage.I don't want to tie the dog (who has the right to be free on campsite), but suddenly he follows me everywhere.So in the toilet and in the shower, he waits in front of the door, sometimes being afraid of other campers who do not dare to span it ... Wild camping is easier to manage!

Day 3: Ile de la Serre - Lyon

+ 83 m / – 119 m75,1 km

We wake up dry, we break up then we leave.The weather forecast is not very good for today, the most optimistic announces rain from 2 p.m., the most pessimistic from 2 am.We know we're going to be wet.This is an opportunity to retest the lagoped jacket.

Our unusual meeting of the day is with a peasant, he is in an immense cornfield, tearing off freshly planted feet.He explains to us that he has a very small plot (about 5 meters by 5) in the middle of this huge field.It's easier for the operator to put corn everywhere, and then our peasant must tear it away to plant what suits him.He wants to plant things that don't consume a lot of water, like beans or zucchini.The watering of corn around will work for him.And anyway since his field is next to the cycle path, he does not have time to eat the vegetables, which are picked up by the people who pass.Finally it occupies him and he looks so happy.

Around 9:30 am, it starts to rain, and it will not stop to Lyon.We stop buying strawberries at a traveling seller, it will bring a little sun to our day.In addition, the route is much less interesting today, we go away from the Rhône because there is no longer any cycle path on this section.We slalom between the villages, we make detours to avoid the roads circulating.The little that we make gives us cold in the back.There is no longer any markup between hières on Amby and Jons, so we have to stop often, watch the GPS (getting the card out in the rain is not great, we don't want to stop too muchlong time).With Vanessa, we quickly decide to push to Lyon, it is not that far, and camping in the rain after a very humid day does not make us want.In short on this part, we do not really take advantage, even if Vanessa is a perfect travel girlfriend who always has morale, and who will always find a magnificent flower (even at the foot of a nuclear power plant).Iskut does not care, he is in the trailer because it is not ideal all these roads for him.He is soaked and so full of mud, he takes the water from my bicycle wheel despite the sludge guards, and the wheels of the trailer (which do not have a mudguard).

Before Juns, we meet a family with a little girl of ten years.She is courageous the little one.Their goal is to join Lyon to return to Grenoble by train.In Jons, this is the Liberation.We find the Rhône and the cycle paths, the markup and the tranquility.Iskut is happy to run like crazy on this hard earth track.We advance about twenty kilometers per hour, the fine rain no longer annoys us.A small front wind comes again to put our thighs again to the test, but quickly we branch out in the forest to reach the park of Miribel Jonage.We feel that we are approaching Lyon, there are more and more people, even under the burnt.We come across bikes, walkers, dogs, children, sailing boards ... The arrival in Lyon is quite surprising.We follow the highway once for about 50 meters, but other than that, we realize nothing and here we are at the Golden Head Park, in the heart of the city.

I am happy to learn that Vanessa also takes a train to the part God.She leaves to the south, direction Vienna to continue her journey (there is no via Rhôna between Lyon and Givors).Iskut and I are going to Seyssel looking for the car to go home.We take a good slap in the station.We are soaked, tired of the 75 kilometers made, to have rolled by bike in the city (even if there are lots of cycle paths in Lyon), we are full of mud ... And here, people are with their littleSuitcase, all clean, stressed, in a hurry ... There is a world between us, which is absolutely giant!

Managing a dog and a bike in a station is no more restrictive than a simple bike.In the end you do not leave your bike unattended, so you do not leave your bike and your dog without surveillance.Being two to travel together is much simpler for that.You can take turns to buy your train ticket, to eat, go to the toilet.Lyon Part God station is very well done, with ramps for access to the quay (no staircase), therefore practical with a busy bike.

I was a little afraid of being refused access to the train.In theory for TER: bike accepted up to 5 per train, first arrival, first served.Dogs must buy a ticket (50% of the normal price) and be with a muzzle.Trailers can be refused depending on the crowd and / or without any particular reason.We arrive like flowers, for a big weekend, with our bikes full of mud and the stinking dog ... But we had no problem, fortunately, everything went super well!And here it is, 1 hour 40 later (against 3 days of bike), we are back in Seyssel, very tired but very happy.

Practical information for this via rhôna by bike between Seyssel and Lyon with a dog

Dog trailer

There are different sizes for different costs.For large dogs like Iskut (40 kg and high on paw), there are not much choice.I improved mine by cutting the roof so that it can take out their heads and sit.The trailer weighs in the 8 kg empty.

Pull the trailer (with or without Iskut)

Very easy on the dish, you hardly feel it.In the climbs, it is not the same, it is very heavy, and it is clearly better than the dog runs next door.On the descents, it pushes us, so we gain speed and we must be sure to be able to stop.

The dog and the trailer

Iskut remains quiet once installed in the trailer.Generally I start by making him run between 5 and 15 kilometers so that he is tired and that he does not reluctant to go there.I made a few short sections on the road by holding it on a leash next to the bike.I always tied the dog in the trailer, lest it jump on the road.After 2 days, he was used to and did not go out even when we were arrested.I think I will have stopped attaching it fairly quickly if the trip had continued.Ideally you should teach the dog to go up alone in the trailer (at the top of a descent) and to descend from the trailer on order (before a climb).There, I had to stop, get off the bike, wear the dog to put it in the trailer ....A sacred logistics that will be improved in the next trips!

Liberty dog management

The dog in freedom can scare certain people.You have to be absolutely sure that his dog does not attack bikes, people, other dogs, children, does not pursue cats on the road, does not eat badgers on the side (😉), do not runNot after horses, cows, sheep, goats and other animals crossed on the way, stops on order before the roads (we don't know exactly when we cross a road with cars) ... in short have a good dogerect is essential for this kind of trip.For me the most important is really the recall, which must be absolutely perfect.You can't let your dog walk on a departmental road on your own, or scare people we meet.


I had planned 50 kilometers per day.In the end, we have a little more (and so we have "won" a travel day).Iskut runs on average between 12 and 18 kilometers / hour.So whether it runs or in the trailer, we still advance quickly (more than what I had planned).It works because it is an athletic dog, high on leg, which is trained.In the end I think you have to travel better with a very small dog of less than 10 kilograms that you put in a trailer almost all the time, or leave with a large dog which can swallow distance at a fairly speedimportant (ISKUT ran 25 - 30 kilometers per day).Go with a labrador that is 35 kilos but that runs slowly, we really only have the negative sides: a heavy trailer, and we do not advance when many the dog.After these values are valid on the dish.As a climb, they are not at all the same!


Viarhôna begins in Thonon les Bains or in Geneva according to the topos, and finished in Sète or Port Saint Louis du Rhône.It is 750 kilometers of marked route, mainly flat, composed of cycle paths and shared roads.For the topos I had that of Chamina Edition and Vanessa that of the backpacker.Chamina Edition is more compact, and signals the danger zones well.The backpacker is larger, on the other hand the steps are more precise and there are more details on things to see on the way (like the Glandieu waterfall for example).For me, the viarhôna is an ideal route to do with children because easy, pretty, and in terms of logistics, it's really quiet.We regularly cross cities for races, there are campsites, hotels, gites throughout the course.There are regular SNCF stations to return.

As a bonus

What we don't think about, Canadian passages.A whole challenge for the dog.

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