Day thirty-seven: Les Hôpital-Neufs to Eclépens

Now there are a couple of towns that are probably not on the normal vf schedule, but one has to go to where the beds are!

A wonderful day of walking – mostly downhill, which helps. There is a big hill coming up in a few days so I’m trying to curb my enthusiasm for downhill at this stage.
I have discovered that Monday is Swiss for “fermé”. Even my accommodation is closed on a Monday (it is a community Auberge, which is interesting in itself). However, they emailed me the code to the lock-box, and my key fob was delivered to me like a vending machine. All very efficient! I did need to walk back to the previous town to find dinner, but it was only a 15 minute amble to the inevitable kebab shop. Everything else was closed!
A section today was walking on the magnificent Orbe gorge trail. Normally one follows it all the way to Orbe, but way back in my planning phase I identified a major short cut, so I left the gorge at Les Clees, headed across country for a few kms, then rejoined the documented route at Bretonnieres. I use the term documented route lightly, as immediately after crossing the border at 0820, signage for either the via francigena or GR145 vanished. I’ve seen only one vf logo all day. Fortunately the Swiss are very efficient at labeling their walking paths, so as long as you know the name of the next town or village, you can’t get too lost. See attached pic for signage example!
Orbe was one of the towns on Sigeric’s itinerary, but the path (although there is a new version for the route to Lausanne from Orbe) almost doubles back on itself, so it is an easy short cut. Orbe is apparently the headquarters of Nestle’s coffee empire, so maybe I missed out on a free cup of instant at their factory outlet store.
Crossing the border was interesting – just a couple of posts in the trail. I did get to wonder whether French cows or Swiss cows get to graze the 20 metre-wide strip of no-man’s land. I also had a new bovine friend for a while. A stray Swiss cow was at the border crossing: not sure how she knew not to cross into France, but she followed me up the hill beside the electric fence she had clearly got over. Fortunately the farmer showed up, otherwise she might still be with me.
Do now for some statistics and observations on France (I don’t know how to do these as bullet points, so it will appear as one big ugly paragraph): I’ve traveled about 700km on foot, plus the 140 km Max & I did on bikes. The total is a shade more than the version of the Camino Frances we did in 2017.
So many French smoke, and smoke a lot, it is hard to believe; I did not see one person wearing yoga pants the entire time in France; I saw maybe a dozen pick up trucks all the time I was in France, and that was a lot of walking through rural areas. Maybe French men don’t fell the need to boost their masculinity by driving monster trucks. (Perhaps French women don’t feel the need to wear yoga pants for similar reasons!) The French are very patriotic in vehicle choices. There are some VW, Dacias,and Toyotas, but mainly it is Citroen, Pugeot, and Renault. The tiny vans are the work-horses for tradesmen, farmers and business people. See pic attached. Most vehicles are diesel, so the environmental impact of these engines is being broadly ignored. Electric cars…. we saw a Tesla in Paris, and one electric car in Arras, but France is clearly way way behind the shift to electric vehicles. There are some charging stations, but they are vacant.
That’s it. I have about a week in Switzerland in order to come up with some gross generalizations. So far (one day!) I have not seen one piece of garbage, so my search for interesting objects at the roadside may need to take a hiatus.

2 thoughts on “Day thirty-seven: Les Hôpital-Neufs to Eclépens

    1. There is always more than I can write on the phone in the time available. The keyboard takes up half the screen, so I suspect I sometimes repeat myself. Missing my Blackberry!


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