24-in-24: 🇨🇭🇮🇹 Zurich and the Alps
Entry #0.3 in the series Paris 24 in 24. August 2022.
In the spring of 2022, I accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Paris-Saclay that would last for two years, from September 2022 until August 2024. My partner Mandeep and I moved to France in August to set up shop before I would get to work in September.
The month of August 2022 would hold one more final trip. While my partner Mandeep returned to Canada for a few days, I got back on the train and headed to Switzerland to see my friend Felix in Zurich. I’ve known Felix for the last few years since I met him on the McGill Cycling Team during my PhD in Montreal. Felix was also completing his PhD and is an avid cyclist. Since our McGill days, Felix moved from Montreal to Zurich, and I to Paris, so I wanted to take the opportunity to pay a visit to my old friend and to do what we both love to do best, ride our bikes. We’d spend the first few days around Zurich and then take a long weekend to drive south across the Alps into Italy to do some rides there.
Part 1: Zurich
I took the train direct from Paris to Zurich. Not much to report, once the bike was on and stowed, which is always an adventure in and of itself, as there is never really a proper storage spot that can fit a bike bag.
A Monop’ meal from Gare de Lyon and some wine passed the time until I arrived at Zurich Central Station. Felix was driving back into town from a work event so I stretched my legs on the banks of the clear water that flows through the center of the city.
No sooner did he arrive than we got out the bikes and headed outside of the city to stretch our legs in the setting sun.
We spent a couple days around Zurich; Felix showed me some of the local rides, which were stunning and not for the faint of heart. All roads go up at some point. We bought and cooked good food, and walked around the old city at night.
Part 2: Cannobio
The real fun came when we backed the bikes up in Felix’s car and headed south across the Alps to northern Italy, to the village of Cannobio. Just a few kilometers south of the Swiss border, Cannobio sits on Lago Maggiore, with mountains rising up on all sides. A great B&B awaited us there, and shortly after we were off on our bike again, heading up the valley into roads unknown. The pictures can do the talking (see below), but to say just a couple words, everything was simply splendid. Like a postcard. There was one main valley road, off of which were many different tiny side roads, winding and switchbacking their way up to impressive vistas and improbable villages that look like they’ve been there for many centuries.
The waterfront of Cannobio was impressive as well, a proper mix of classic Italian charm, pizza and Spritzes, not to mention a brisk dip in the lake.
After a long weekend of daily riding and enjoying some great Italian hospitality, we headed back across the Alps to Zurich (a stunning site on it’s own!) and I boarded the train back to Paris to rejoin Mandeep who was returning from Canada at the same time.
What more to say? Cycling northern Italy in the foothills of the Alps? 5 of 5 stars / highly recommend / not enough great things to say! Added to that, hanging with Felix. Best times.
📸 Photo Gallery