Train from the airport into Geneva, tram to the French train station at Eaux Vives — a badly outmoded and ill-maintained place, but serviceable. Then an odd hour at Evian-les-Bains, on the south shore of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), making a reservation for tonight's bed and dinner and finding out how to walk here, and managing to lose a guidebook and a canteen.
The walk was hard. No more than ten miles, but a considerable gain in elevation, from Evian at about 370 meters to here at 1170, or 3800 feet. Nothing compared to what we'll be doing, but hard given lack of sleep, jet lag, fairly high temperatures, and grades up to 20 percent. The sleepy vacation resort town of Evian-les-Bains gave way to suburbs; these quickly becoming more rural. Our roads climbed and curved among fields and woods, often with surprising vistas over Lac Leman, always the distant mountains challenging us.
Now and then you come to a hamlet, with only a few of the old buildings to recall their original peasant economy; now nearly all buildings are from the last twenty years or so, in the prefab linconlog chalet style, nicely set about with gardens and potted flowers — weekend or vacation houses, no doubt: this is ski country. We walked along country roads about ten kilometers to La Beunaz, then overland on footpaths and dirt roads through forest and pasture.
We are in Haute Savoie; the cows are wearing their delicious bells; the hills are incredibly green, the air soft and sweet. Our gite d’étape, l’Alpage,
will not be terribly expensive and gave a decent dinner: trout, french fries (boy did we want that salt!), fresh crisp delicious lettuces, fine ice cream with magnificent whipped cream. There’s a parrot in the dining room — caged, bien entendu — and a friendly woman running things, and we three are the only people staying here.
Our windows look out over the pastures and we hear the distant cowbells. Tomorrow will be even harder than today, but we must do it — and so to bed.