Day 1: Geneva to Thonon-les-Bains

The Grande Alpes route runs from Thonon-les-Bains to Menton, and today was all about getting from the UK to Thonon in France for tomorrow’s start.

The flights went without a hitch and, once we retrieved our boxes from the baggage conveyor, we dragged them outside to unpack and assemble the bikes. Because we’re returning from a different airport the bikes are packed in cardboard boxes that we can dispose of here in Geneva. We plan to pick up new ones from a cycle shop in Nice for the return journey. It took about 40 minutes before we were ready to ditch the boxes and ride out of Geneva.

Geneva proved to be reasonably easy to navigate and we were soon on the fairly quiet roads that follow the southern shoreline of Lac Leman. We made good progress leaving Switzerland into France, stopping just after the border for food in a village where a local rock band was setting up for the evening. I think it was Metallica.

Our first mechanical occurred just after lunch when Marcus snapped his chain. A quick repair got us moving again as far as a cycle shop where a new chain was fitted.

Once in Thonon, we took hotel advice from the Office de Tourisme who sent us out of town to a place that was full. The hotel staff pointed us to their town centre hotel (which was actually very near to the Office de Tourisme) where we checked in for the night. Accommodation sorted.

After a shower, I realised that the last minute decision to wear my cycling shorts under my trousers for the flight meant that I hadn’t packed any underpants for the trip. Underpants were the first thing on my shopping list when we strolled into town. Having easily secured some gunties we went for dinner and beers.

Thonon was very busy with live music playing in most of its many squares. I’m guessing there was some sort of festival on. I don’t imagine it’s this lively every Saturday.

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Assembling the bikes in Geneva

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Ready to go

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The Jet d’Eau fountain in Geneva

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Mechanical number 1 – Marcus fixes his snapped chain

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View from Thonon

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