From Geneva, I hiked back to Nyon to replace the video that got destroyed when my memory card fritzed on me. From there, up into the hills and to La Cure which straddles the French/Swiss border. I stopped for a drink in a hotel there (l’Hotel Franco-Suisse) which actually sits right on the border. Two of the bedrooms are laid out so that when you sleep, your head is in one country and your feet in the other.
While I was sat there, I got talking to a local Frenchman called Guillaume (the French version of William). His grandfather used to work at the hotel during the war as it was a way to escape the Germans, with one half of the building in France and the other in Switzerland. He sat with me and got me some guidebooks, told me about loads of things to see in the area then insisted on paying for my beer and driving me the 2km to the hostel.
If I ever say anything bad about the French ever again, kindly kick me.
The Auberge was the only one I could find online at short notice, but in the immediate area there must be another three or four gites. This one included breakfast and, when I arrived, dinner for an extra 10 Euros. I was tempted as it was getting late, but the main course was fish which I really don’t like. Apparently all the shops were now shut, but I opted to take my chances and head into the nearest town – les Rousses – and see what was to be had.
Half an hour later, I found a moderately expensive convenience store that was just about to close. Twelve Euros later and I had my dinner for the day and my lunch for the next. Back at the hostel I rustled up two nice steaks, some boiled spuds and mixed veg. Washed down with a Heineken and a half litre of (UHT – yuk) milk. And topped off with a cake someone had left in the “help yourself” box. And I was still hungry.
I got to bed around midnight after getting slightly addicted to my PSP for an hour or so, but was up very early the next morning to go for… well… for a walk. There’s a nearby hill called la Dolem atop which is the weather station and RADAR site for Geneva airport. The view is meant to be splendid but has to be seen early in the morning before cloud builds and spoils the view of Mont Blanc. Not to be missed, I’d been told. So I didn’t want to miss it.
The walk to the start of the hike is around an hour from la Cure. I was most of the way there when who shows up but Guillaume, driving back into town. He offerend – and I accepted – a lift to the foot of the walk to save me another twenty minutes. What a guy!
I took the direct route up, pretty much in a straight line under the main skilift. This was steep in places – very steep – but got me to the top in around thirty minutes. The meandering pathway takes twice that, though it doesn’t destroy your knees so much. Or your trousers. I’ve had to restitch the crotch on mine twice now.
The view from the top was one of those that simply makes you go “wow” when you first see it. Most of Lake Geneva is visible with mist rolling over it. Nyon, Lausanne and Geneva are clearly visible. The Jet in Geneva shows how huge it is by being an unmissable sight even from this distance.
It’s also interesting to look at the man-made stuff perched on the top of the hill relating to the airport. A huge golf-ball like RADAR station, accompanying weather equipment and an auto-tracking security camera… though I’m not sure what it tracks! Still, I didn’t have too long, so I hurried back down the hill (running seems easier when you’ve got gravity on your side) and made it back to the hostel to get my large rucksack and stride off towards Champagnole.
The route there is long – a marathon, literally – but I got there in the late evening to be greeted by Florent, my Couchsurfing host for the evening. We avoided the excellent-looking Big Ben pizza (complete with genuine London taxi cab for delivery purposes) as the food’s apparently awful and had a healthy organic salad instead. Florent was to be up at 6am for a cycling race the next day and diet is all-important!