Day 15: Paladru to Charavines

Walking in France: A beautiful start to the day, Paladru camping ground

A beautiful start to the day

Wednesday, 6 July 2016
Distance 9 km
Duration 2 hours 5 minutes
Ascent 204 m, descent 211 m
Map 150 of the TOP 100 lime-green series

This day hardly qualified as a walking day at all.

Our original idea was to go straight through from St-Genix to Charavines in one day, but now that we had time on our hands we had split it in two, the second part absurdly short.

It was a beautiful mild summer morning as we packed up and moved to a little gravel terrace near the entrance of the camping, where there was an iron table and chairs.

Walking in France: Breakfast with a view, Paladru camping ground

Breakfast with a view


We had muesli for breakfast (there was nothing else on offer) and were soon on our way.

We took a steeply rising road opposite the camping ground and soon noticed a track going off to the left, a considerable short cut with the bonus of a nice view over the lake.

Rejoining the bitumen at the top, we wove through a network of little roads and tracks before descending through a forest to meet the GR that we had abandoned yesterday.

Walking in France: Climbing out of Paladru

Climbing out of Paladru


It was very clearly marked but we disagreed with it at an intersection and went our own way, much shorter, joining it again as we came down to les Allex.

By then the valley of le Pin was visible below and at the bottom we crossed a newly renovated causeway and advanced on the village, hoping for a bar.

Walking in France: A lovely, but unnecessary, second breakfast, le Pin

A lovely, but unnecessary, second breakfast


The whole little place bespoke civic pride and we were delighted to see a fine new bar opposite the church, and a boulangerie further up the street – all the necessaries for a good second breakfast.

There was a terrace at the side but did not notice it so we sat indoors. A sign on the wall read “je préfère boire avec mes amis que boire avec moderation” (I prefer to drink with my friends than drink with moderation).

Walking in France: Leaving le Pin

Leaving le Pin


From there to Charavines was a half-hour downhill stroll through fields of newly harvested wheat.

We dropped suddenly into the town, went past some hotels and shops, then crossed the D50 (the lakeside highway that also goes through Paladru) and arrived at the majestic Office du Tourisme.

Walking in France: Descending to Charavines

Descending to Charavines


Armed with a town map and a list of restaurants, we pressed on a short way to the camping ground, which was set back from the road behind a hedge.

There were rows of cabins surrounding a shady lawn which was reserved for tents – not that there were many of them – and we dumped our packs against a tree trunk while we went off to investigate the town.

Like Paladru, Charavines has become a tourist destination, and at the beach there was a crush of semi-naked people of all ages, seemingly oblivious to the sharp, cold wind. We retired to the café behind a glass screen and I put on my warm jacket.

Walking in France: Coffee beside lake Paladru, Charavines

Coffee beside the lake

Like Paladru, Charavines has become a tourist destination, and at the beach there was a crush of semi-naked people of all ages, seemingly oblivious to the sharp, cold wind. We retired to the café behind a glass screen and I put on my warm jacket.

Having finished our second round of coffee for the day, we went back to the camping ground, had showers (erratic in temperature but copious and refreshing), then sat on our mats and ate the left-overs from last night.

A fat old man from a nearby caravan puffed over to us with two plastic chairs, evidently not liking the look of people of our age sitting on the ground. This was a kindness that we had experienced several times in the past.

Walking in France: Charavines camping ground

Charavines camping ground


In the afternoon we walked around looking for a good restaurant. We found many, but some of them were just take-aways and others were breathtakingly expensive. There were also very few bars.

We decided to eat at a place on the corner of the D50 (Le Gardian) where we had entered the town that morning. It had a bar on the upper terrace and a restaurant below, both with airy views over the town and lake.

After a siesta under the trees at the camping ground, we emerged for dinner at 8 pm, but first we did a preliminary survey of the track we were to take in the morning, since it went up just next to our chosen restaurant. It all looked good, so we settled down at the bar for our usual glasses of rosé.

Walking in France: Entrées at Le Gardian, Charavines

Entrées at Le Gardian

The terrace was empty except for us, but we were not as solitary as we seemed, because there was a crowd inside watching the big TV, where Portugal and Wales were playing a Eurocup semi-final.

Then we went downstairs to the lower terrace, where other couples were already dining. We chose the €19.80 menu, with a half-litre of red for €9.80 (pichets are surprisingly dear in these parts, but on the other hand, coffees are cheaper).

Keith started with a plate of jambon cru, the best sort of ham, and I had a salmon terrine with prawns and salad, which was excellent.

Walking in France: Followed by faux filet with pots of ravioli au gratin

Followed by faux filet with pots of ravioli au gratin

Next we both had faux filet (commonly known as steak), with little covered pots of ravioli au gratin. It was delicious also, but too much for us, so I transferred half the ravioli into a plastic bag to take away.

Unfortunately the bag had a hole somewhere and the buttery sauce leaked into my shoulder bag and onto my trousers, causing me a lot of extra washing later.

Lastly Keith had profiteroles and I had cheese, or rather I added the cheese to my store. Luckily it was in a separate bag to the ravioli.

Walking in France: And profiteroles and cheese to finish

And profiteroles and cheese to finish


As we were finishing this fine meal, we saw two heavily laden walkers going to and fro along the main street below, evidently hunting for their hotel or gîte.

We felt sorry for them, arriving at this late hour, and wondered how it could have happened.

When we got back to the camping ground, the first people we saw were these two walkers, assiduously washing their clothes in a basin. I spoke to them in French and they stared at me with blank hostility, so I gave up.