We five pilgrims enjoyed our banquet in the apartment last night including the fresh fruit dessert. Not only was it nutritious and plentiful but probably cheaper than eating out.
This morning we started at 7am and visited the first boulangerie for a chocolate croissant. If breakfast subsequently materialises, so much the better.
We reached the far end of Lake Geneva and the town of Villeneuve by 8.30 and stopped at a cafe for breakfast. The request for five breakfasts seemed to take the owner by surprise. It was as if I’d asked for a replacement blade for my lawn mower. “I have no jam” she said. After yesterday’s disappointment I decided to make jam the minimum requirement so I went to another cafe but got the same response. However, this woman whispered the location of a tearoom that had jam and would give us a really good breakfast. So we all relocated and enjoyed fresh orange juice, a decent if rather small cafe au lait, bread, croissants, butter and jam. In England, of course, you would take marmalade, not jam but when travelling abroad one is prepared to make small sacrifices.
Villeneuve has much to interest the geography student for here the River Rhône, which starts its life up in the Alps, flows into Lake Geneva. The fast flowing river cuts a deep, narrow valley and has become strategically important for controlling the Alpine passes. The Rhône exits Lake Geneva at the opposite end and flows through France to reach the Mediterranean at Arles. We now leave the Lake behind us and head up the Rhône valley in our quest to cross the Alps. Suddenly those mountains loom up on all sides, seemingly threatening our progress into Italy.
We reached Roche and stopped for an apple juice. Here we met PILGRIM TO ROME NUMBER 3. I’m not surprised because I’ve always said that nobody is daft enough to follow the Via Francigena through France. Many start in Lausanne but most start in Italy. So here is J on her first ever long distance walk, in her summer holidays from college in Germany. She started in Lausanne on Sunday and was camping in her tent when the storm hit and soaked everything. An auspicious start.
J walked with us for awhile and we had a nice chat. It cheered me up to remember why I enjoy walking on a pilgrimage. For me, it’s not a physical challenge. It’s about nice scenery, local culture and meeting fellow pilgrims (in reverse order). I hope and believe that life on the Via Francigena is going to pick up as we encounter more pilgrims heading for Rome.
Just for the record, today we walked 35 km to St Maurice and we’re staying in the very good Hotellerie Franciscaine which offers a good full board price to pilgrims.
Last night’s banquet in our Montreux apartment
The Chateau of Chillon on Lake Geneva
Swiss army firing squad.
Cheeky contender for Miss June
J joins us for the walk from Roche to Aigle
The mountains are closing on us.
The way up the Rhône Valley