Tuesday, 5 July 2016
Distance 22 km
Duration 4 hours 45 minutes
Ascent 437 m, descent 161 m
Map 150 of the TOP 100 lime-green series
Topoguide (ref. 650) Sentier vers Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle: Genève – Le Puy
In striking contrast to yesterday, we rose at 6:20 am and were in the Bar des Sports by 7, armed with three croissants and a pain aux raisins.
We asked for large coffees with hot milk separately, and got a lovely big jug of milk to add to the strong black brew.
Setting off, we crossed the bridge over the Guiers (a tributary of the nearby Rhône) and took a dead straight track beside the river for half an hour, before emerging into open fields and crossing the autoroute on a small bridge.
We looked for signs of yesterday’s horrible crash but only saw a few barriers beside the road.
At Romagnieu the GR took a circuitous way that we did not fancy, so we went our own way for a while, rejoining it a couple of kilometres further on.
Whilst on this short cut, we were accosted by a passing tradesman in a van, who informed us that we were lost, but when we showed him our maps he stopped worrying and drove off with a cheerful wave.
We came back onto the GR just as another walker arrived. He was a cheerful, ramshackle old Austrian fellow loaded with crosses and cockleshells, who spoke rapid but inaccurate English, hard to follow. He had started in Salzburg, camping in fields at night and eating mainly bread, and was very possibly mad.
After a kilometre we diverged again. The tiny road that we took went past a massive fenced rubbish tip where several trucks were lined up waiting their turn to contribute to the mountain.
Then we crossed a bridge over the railway line and soon found ourselves in the town of les Abrets, where there was a large bar on the main street, shaded by the buildings.
Another round of coffee was very welcome after two or three hours of walking, and just as we were leaving, our ramshackle Austrian friend shuffled in and stopped for coffee.
We calculated that he was the seventh fellow walker that we had seen so far on the Way of Geneva – not a lot considering the hundreds that leave le Puy every day on the lower section.
From les Abrets we stuck to the GR as it zig-zagged through open pastureland where cut hay was being winnowed, and then climbed a steep slope, but near the Château du Fort we struck off on our own again. We had to diverge from the GR because it went on to the village of Valencogne, which had no accommodation except a chambre d’hôte, and so was not the place for us.
Our destination was Lake Paladru, much lower down. A series of tiny descending lanes took us to the D50, a big, busy road lined with houses and factories. It also had footpaths on both sides, so we had no trouble walking along it.
Arriving at the main intersection of Paladru, we stopped at a bar for an Orangina, noting with pleasure that the restaurant at the adjoining hotel would be open this evening, but closed the following night. Luck was with us.
The camping ground was almost a kilometre further on, along the shore of the lake, in a beautiful position looking over the water to the fields and woods on the opposite side.
The reception was closed for lunch so we went in and flopped down gratefully on the grass in the shade of a plane tree, not bothering to put up our tent until later.
Entertainment was provided by a mother and young son struggling to put up their tent, obviously for the first time. We thought of helping them, but before we could make the offer they got it up by themselves, and no doubt felt very proud.
After eating the cold remains of the spag bol from last night, which was surprisingly delicious, we put up our own tent – the work of a moment after doing it every day for weeks – and had showers.
I found a disabled shower which was much more spacious that the usual sort, and washed myself and my clothes thoroughly. I surveyed at myself in the big mirror and decided that I looked thinner, but healthy enough.
The campsite was very pleasant but we did not converse with anybody except the manager when he reappeared.
About 7 pm we walked back to the hotel terrace and ordered rosé, over which we lingered until it was a more respectable time to dine.
In due course a party of fourteen locals, dressed for some special occasion, occupied a long table at one side, and several of the smaller tables also filled, so we enjoyed the festive atmosphere, even though we we not really part of it.
We chose the €16 menu, beginning with a buffet of crudities, for which the waitress invited us to go inside to where it was laid out.
We emerged with our plates piled rather greedily with salads, ham and pressed meats, much of which vanished into my bag to reappear as lunch the following day.
For the main course we both had the speciality of the house, petite friture du lac, which was tiny fried fish. It came accompanied by gratin dauphinois, one of my favourite dishes.
Finally Keith had two scoops of icecream (coffee and rum-and-raisin), while I had a magnificent array of cheese, which I made into cheese sandwiches, as I was too full to eat any more at the time.
Back at the camping ground, we saw that the young couple next to us were sitting outside their tent, reading by a spirit lamp, which shed a romantic light onto their books.
Then they picked up the table, lamp and all, and walked it inside, where it continued to glow through the fabric of the tent – a pretty little scene.