Tuesday, July 17, 2012

GR65 Geneva to Le Grand Lemps, not Plan A, but an ok Plan B

Plan A was Geneva to Le Puy - 19 walking days, a fairly leisurely schedule we thought.

We flew into Geneva via London. Barely squeaked by on transfer time in London. Heathrow ran us out of our international flight, through immigration, out to the main area, and back through full security. At least the bag with our hiking poles was checked through to the final destination.

Geneva airport has a free ticket good for 80 minutes of public transport, bus or train, so we got the train, got off at station Cornavin and walked about six blocks north east to Geneva City Hostel. Spartan but clean 2 person room, and pastry and coffee available on the corner the next morning by 7am.

I'd carefully traced the GR65 route through Geneva on my gps map software before leaving home, as well as loading someone's gps track of the entire route to Le Puy, so wasn't concerned about navigating through Geneva. Fired up the gps, saw the city and streets with no problem, but absolutely no trace of my manually added route, or the trace I thought I had added. Knowing in general where the route left Geneva, we started walking southwest and in a while, spotted a pilgrim route marker on a building corner, and between the two of us, managed to follow the markers out of town, and crossed into France before lunch.

It wasn't till I got home that I realized that the French-German guidebook had a map of the route thru Geneva right in the front of the book.

 Much of the day was easy walking, though it was a little warm, but the final push up a long uphill had us both exhausted by the time we reached our first gite - the Fromagerie at Beaumont. No host around, but we settled in, and soon a neighbor stopped by to tell us that the owner would be back later, and his kids would bring us supper.

We were out early the next morning. The photo timestamp says 5:12am. The days were long, and it was early, but I am not totally confident about that timestamp.

This is strikingly beautiful country, brilliant greens, a lot of ups and downs, as our legs were telling us.
This day ended at Chaumont's municipal gite, nice looking, but the sleeping area had no windows and was claustrophobic, so we ended up dragging some mattresses out on the concrete front porch for the night. Monte Blanc was in sight in the eastern sky.

Soon after this the weather began to change. We dropped down to Seyssel on the Rhone, where it was 40 degrees C, and then began to rain. Over the next few days, we noticed that this was a pattern, temperature going up means rain. Definitely no bland boring cloudless skys!

This is all heavy snow country in the winter. Every house has huge piles of firewood, and you see large stacks in the forest. Sleds and similar sit in the yards.

Municipal gite at Chaumont
Chanaz was the next night - pouring rain, and when we finally found the  chambre d'hôte we had reserved, locked and no note or host to be found. This is about a steep a little village as you can imagine and by the time we had found our lodging we had trudged up and down several times. So, we asked at the El Camino gite next door, if they knew our host. No, but they were extremely helpful, and let us stay in their gite for an hour until our hostess finally showed up. El Camino wasn't listed in any of the guides, but was very nice. We would have stayed there if we had not made the other reservation. Didn't want to give pilgrims a bad name by cancelling reservations at last minute. However, if you go to Chanaz, stay at El Camino.

This country is roughly the latitude of Washington state, and has corresponding greenery and weather. Abandoned buildings soon disappear in the shrubbery.
View at Chaumont
Rhone at Seyssel
En route to Yenne
Looking back up the Rhone
The very welcome bar/gite Domaine des Chamois at St. Maurice de Rotherens
Most of the time we were able to find a gite or chambre d'hote, but sometimes there were also Accueil jacquaires. This is a room in an individual's home, who for reasons of faith support pilgrims. We only stayed in one of these once, where there was not another choice, as we did not want to take lodging from someone who might really need it. (they are usually donativo basis). We were not as budget constrained as those planning to go all the way to Santiago. Our stay at one in Valencogne was a very nice experience.
Our Accueil jacquaire room in the Valencogne marie bldg
Our next and last hiking day stay was at La Ferme du Futeau. They were in a state of mourning. There had been two deaths in the family recently, including the woman who used to be the hostess. Her husband and her mother were trying to carry on the business.

Susan in a revealing photo
During this day, Susan's shin had become very painful to the touch. When we looked at it, there was noticeable swelling. We diagnosed it as shin splints. The next morning, we wrapped it with an Ace bandage before descending the very steep path down to Le Grand Lemps. By the foot of the hill, it was obvious that we could not go on. Plan B had to go into effect. With the help of Le Poste staff, we found a taxi to take us to La Cote St. Andre, our planned night's stop. By the next morning, swelling and redness had spread further, and we ended up going by emergency vehicle to a nearby clinic where they diagnosed it as an infection and prescribed antibiotics. By the following morning the redness was gone, but swelling remained and it was still extremely painful at one location. Short summary - 10 more days in France Grenoble and Lyon, including hospital visit and xrays, swelling gradually diminished, some suspicion of hairline fracture but nothing showed in xrays.


  1. I hope Susan is recovering well. Thank you for an inspiring rendition of your Camino!

  2. You seem to have had a good time, Ralph, but a shame about Susan's leg. I told you this route was lovely!