Day 3: Frangy to Seyssel

Walking in France: Returning to the Café du Centre, Frangy, with a bag of pastries
Returning to the Café du Centre with a bag of pastries

Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Distance 17 km
Duration 3 hours 45 minutes
Ascent 310 m, descent 373 m
Map 144 of the TOP 100 lime-green series
Topoguide (ref. 650) Sentier vers Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle : Genève – Le Puy

In the morning our first wish was to escape from the broken-down camping ground, and we were back in town just after 7 am. The main street had a busy, prosperous air, a world away from the lonely slum of the camping ground.

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.

Walking in France: Breakfast, Frangy

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.

Walking in France: Making friends with a local
Making friends with a local

Once down the main street, we crossed the river on a stone bridge, which had been superseded by a new road bridge and was now for pedestrians only.

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.

Walking in France: Some friendly cows in Tagny
Some friendly cows in Tagny

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.

Walking in France: Still climbing near Tagny
Still climbing near Tagny
Walking in France: Arriving in Designy, and hoping it has a public toilet
Arriving in Designy, and hoping it has a public toilet

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 from at Neydens.

Walking in France: Muddy forest track
Muddy forest track

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 countryside, and then on a forested wheel track, sometimes stony and sometimes muddy, along a ridge.

Walking in France: And some lovely dry track
And some lovely dry track

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).

Walking in France: Descending to Seyssel and the Rhône river
Descending to Seyssel

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.

Walking in France: Seyssel's brass band celebrating something
Seyssel’s brass band celebrating something

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.

Walking in France:  Coffee of arrival, Seyssel
Coffee of arrival, Seyssel
Walking in France: Camping ground with a view, Seyssel
Camping ground with a view

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.

Walking in France: Seyssel and the mighty Rhône
Seyssel and the mighty Rhône
Walking in France: Seyssel from the other side of the Rhône
Seyssel from the other side of the Rhône

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.

Walking in France: Apéritifs

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.

Walking in France: Dinner with Michael
Dinner with Michael

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.

Previous day: Neydens to Frangy

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