Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Distance 17 km
Duration 3 hours 45 minutes
Ascent 310 m, descent 373 m
Map 144 of the
Topo-guide (ref. 650) Sentier vers Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle : Genève – Le Puy
In the morning we had no desire to linger at the camping ground, and we were back in town just after
After collecting a paper bag of pastries from the boulangerie, we retired to the terrace of the bar, where several of the tables were already occupied by groups of gossiping locals.
A much older woman was in charge this morning, and she saved her legs by asking one of the other customers to carry our tray of coffee out to our table. It was an ideal start to a short, easy day’s walking.
Down the main street, we crossed the river on a stone bridge, which had been superseded by a new road bridge and was now blocked to cars.
The GR had come down from Chaumont and we were back on it, but as is our habit, we soon diverged, as we had seen a shorter way up through the fields.
A pair of chestnut horses looked mildly interested as we passed, and before long we rejoined the GR at Tagny, which seemed to be populated by cows only.
Now on a small road, we continued to rise. A man was shovelling gravel outside his house and we stopped for a chat and to admired his little beagle dog.
The ground then fell away into a great bowl and our road slipped down and around until we arrived at the entrance to the village of Designy.
Once again we could not resist deviating from the GR along a stony lane parallel to the road before climbing back to the bitumen.
It was a handsome little place dominated by a fine white church with a bell-shaped steeple.
The only public amenities were a bus stop and a toilet. As it happened, Keith was in dire need of the latter, so it was well-timed. He had finally caught the gastric bug that I had suffered at Neydens.
For the rest of the day’s walk we stuck religiously to the GR. It was a pleasant stroll on a tiny rising road through the mild countryside, and then on a forested wheel track, sometimes stony and sometimes muddy, along a ridge.
As we gradually descended we could see the pink smudge of Seyssel below us, and the opposite flank of the Rhône, but not the river itself.
At les Côtes d’en Haut we turned off the main GR onto a variant, which plummeted towards Seyssel and deposited us almost in the centre, on the main highway (the D991).
We walked along a narrow street lined with shops and soon came to the river near the church, where a long bridge stretched across to the distant right bank.
Here we sat down outside a bar, but our arrival coincided with some sort of festivity involving the local brass band.
In their smart uniforms and carrying their trumpets, trombones and tubas, they were pouring glasses of sparkling wine (from the Seyssel vineyards), and passing around boxes of charcuterie amongst their supporters.
It was all very festive but there was not much service forthcoming from the bar, so in the end we wandered off and found another bar for our coffee of arrival.
A few hundred metres along the highway we came to the camping ground, which proved to be everything that the Frangy camping ground was not – grassy, clean, beautifully maintained and with a bar/restaurant on the premises.
Apart from the usual campervans, there were several small tents like ours, mostly with bikes parked outside.
We signed up for the night and pitched our tent in a hedged enclosure looking onto the river, with the town and bridge visible beyond. The showers were impeccable and we felt very pleased with ourselves.
For a change we actually had lunch – the remains of the pizzas from last night – before stretching out for a nap in the shade.
The cyclists in the next enclosure, who had a table and chairs with them, produced an electric kettle from their panniers and took it to the shower block to boil water for coffee. We tried to imagine what else they might be carrying.
Through the lower fence of the camping ground we saw a path along the river bank, with people strolling past. There was a gate in the fence, which turned out to be unlocked, so later in the afternoon we walked back to town along this path, a much pleasanter way than along the main road. We went past a retirement home with a lovely view, then a park, and popped up amongst the shops.
We were looking for a place to eat this evening, but it was surprisingly difficult to find a good menu, so in the end we decided to go back and try the restaurant at the camping ground.
As we walked past one of the small tents, a big-boned German-looking man emerged. There was no bike nearby so I asked him whether he was on foot – yes, he was.
His name was Michael and he had started in April from Austria and was hoping to get to Compostela by September. Like Keith, he had been struck down by a swollen leg and had had to go home for two weeks to recover.
He also was on his way to the restaurant, so we sat together and talked while we ate. For €16 we got a choice from the entrées menu plus a choice from the mains.
I had salade campagnarde and a bavette, Keith had salade au chèvre chaud and a bavette, and Michael had melon and chicken. We shared a carafe of the local red wine.
Another couple of walkers came up to say hello – they had met Michael the night before at the gîte in Chaumont. All this conversation in English was a novelty for us and we greatly enjoyed it.
However, as we had decided to spend another day at Seyssel, we would not see these excellent people again.