Day 1: Saint-Julien-en-Genevois to Neydens

Walking in France: Caffeine fortification after a long trip
Caffeine fortification after a long trip

Thursday, 15 June 2017
Distance 6 km
Duration 1 hour 20 minutes
Ascent 120 m, descent 28 m
Map 143 of the TOP 100 lime-green series

By the time we descended from the train, it was 4:30 pm French time, and lord knew what time as far as our body clocks were concerned.

Feeling the need for fortification before setting off, we went to the only eating place that we could see from the station, which was a pizzeria, and asked for coffee. They were slightly surprised but happy to provide it.

After that we turned away from the centre of the town (which we never saw) and went across the railway line to a residential street beside a stream.

Walking in France: Mont Salève
Mont Salève

Soon we left the houses behind and continued along a gravelly track through trees, emerging to an impressive view of the half-bare flank of Mont Salève. Looking at it, we felt glad that we were not going to climb it.

Before embarking seriously on the walk to Neydens, we made a short detour so that we could put our foot over the border into Switzerland.

A very brief visit to Switzerland

This border was defined by a trickling watercourse called the Aranda, a name which we found amusing, as it is the aboriginal name of our part of Australia.

There was a footbridge and a token barrier with a sign warning us not to bring any contraband across.

Walking in France: Swiss border sign
Border sign
Walking in France: The track to Neydens
The track to Neydens

It was only six gently undulating kilometres to Neydens and even in our broken-down condition we did not take long to get there.

The gravel road, patched with shining pools from a recent rainstorm, traversed fields of ripe wheat and newly mown grass.

Walking in France: Almost there
Almost there

As we had been to Neydens the year before (at the start of the Way of Geneva), we had no trouble finding the camping ground, which in any case was the social centre of the village.

Walking in France: A well earned collapse in the Neydens camping ground
A well earned collapse

Nothing had changed – it was still run with unbending efficiency by a Dutch family, and we were escorted to our allotted place by a Dutchman driving an electric buggy.

The grass was soft, the showers warm and we had time to wash our clothes and collapse briefly before presenting ourselves at the restaurant, whose covered terrace stood on the edge of a large swimming pool.

It was 7:40 pm, perhaps a little early for French diners, and we feared that we might be eating alone. But the terrace was already crowded, probably because almost everybody was foreign – English and Dutch on the whole.

Walking in France: Neydens camping ground restaurant
The camping ground restaurant
Walking in France: Crudités for starters
Crudités for starters

We settled into a table with the menu. For starters we ordered a plate of “crudités”, which turned out to be a simple salad, but none the worse for that. We wolfed down bread, wine and water with it.

The main course offerings included some Swiss specialities, so we ordered them for the sake of regional correctness.

Walking in France: Followed by tartiflette and reblochon
Followed by tartiflette and reblochon

Keith had tartiflette and I had reblochon, both of which contained a vast amount of melted cheese and were extremely filling.

With them we got more salad and a long dish of ham, butter and gherkins, so we put most of that away for a future lunch.

It was our first night in the tent, but we slept like logs. After forty-eight sleepless hours in an upright position, it was inexpressibly luxurious to stretch out at full length on our lovely deep mattresses.

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