Posted by: Richard | June 18, 2009

Day 1: To Vinzier

June 10: We took the 7am Geneva train out of Gare de Lyon on our journey to Thonon-les-Bains.  Lynn and I were both groggy from the early hour and dozed while our TGVraced through the countryside.  We arrived at Thonon around 11.45 am and decided that we would do some walking today.  It was a bit tricky, as there was a hotel 2 hours in and then nothing else until about hour 6 or so.

We started off and Lynn saw the first markings (white and red paint) and was excited that we would be following these paint splashes for the next 750km’s.  The paint was really good, getting us out of the city quickly and into some lovely forest. 

The weather was sunny with clouds, and we started off in great shape, talking up a storm.  Before we knew it, we arrived at a small town (the name escapes me) where a good looking hotel stood waiting for us.  But we felt so great we decided to push on.  Heck, we’d been walking all day long in Paris and we had felt great doing so.

This may have been a mistake, though we didn’t realize it for another couple of hours.  We continued walking, feeling strong, though a little thirsty.  We arrived in Bioge hoping for a cool soda and a rest.  The shop that acted as the cafe/part-time bus stop / rafting company headquarters / a million other things was not open yet.  We sat by a somewhat busy road, drinking the last of our water and eating some chocolate.  We realized we were tired and not looking forward to the next couple of hours to the next settlement, Vinzier.

We walked on narrow trails through dark forest, bugs feasting on us.  We were tired, our feet hurt and we were ready for a break.  We were walking slower and slower.  Finally, we saw some houses, this must be the outskirts of Vinzier.  Even better, the campground was full so must be open (or so I thought).  As we walked up the road to the trailers, Lynn started to cry, overwhelmed by the hard day and finally being done.

We arrived at the campground and it was weird, it was all the same type of campers and people had outdoor clothes washers rigged up.  People seemed to keep their eyes on us and it was like we had entered a private campground.  Putting down our bags, I went to look around and find the manager.  As I walked over to a message board, I noticed some people talking to Lynn and Lynn seemed a bit frantic.  I came back and quickly informed the people that we had walked there and only wanted to sleep and move on.  We were instructed to sleep just beside the campground, on the soccer field. 

I didn’t realize at the point, but this was a campground of gypsies (or travellers as they are also called).  Once we moved and started setting up the tent, we started talking with the people and they were very kind.  One of the wives brought us dinner (pasta, salad, bread) and we chatted and found out that they lived there.  We were happy to have hot food and a lovely night to enjoy it.

We were tired, and went to bed early.  We didn’t expect our new found friends to have an all-night dance party, with techno music blaring until 2am.  At the same time, a ragged storm descended and attacked our tent, rocking it with wind and testing whether it was truly waterproof with torrents of rain.  Thankfully, it survived.


  1. fab you are both doing excellent on what you both are achieving for a good course well done to the both of you take care xx

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