In the previous article in this series, you were introduced to a pilgrim route in Europe called the Via Gebennensis that begins in Geneva, Switzerland and goes to Le Puy-en-Velay (Le Puy), France. This section of the GR65 is 217 miles (350 km) long; if you continue on to the holy city of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, you will have hiked 1155 miles (1864 km.)
Our second day on the trail gave us more of a workout than the first—24 km (15 miles). Sometimes we were walking right alongside the Rhone, other times we were walking parallel to it, but high above the floodplain. The route travels across the grain of the land much of the time, so there are constant ups and down. Fields and forests, small towns, cows, and roses—as well as the mountain ranges on either side of us provided our views as we followed secondary roads and dirt trails.
We reached the small town of Chaumont where our accommodations in a gite (house with guest room(s) seemed a bit too close for comfort. There were multiple beds in a small room with very little ventilation. Since we had our bags, we moved the sleeping pads from indoors onto the porch, rolled out our sleeping bags, and enjoyed sleeping outdoors cowboy style (no tent).
We were still able to join the others for conversation. Although we were the only Americans, the half-dozen others spoke at least some English. Most people prepared their meals in the well-equipped kitchen, but we ate out which is our usual way of doing things. The views to the northwest from the gite were of the ruins of Château Chaumont on a nearby hill, and of Mont Blanc in the distance. It made sitting out at sunset a delight, and the stars after dark were spectacular.
As the days progressed we gradually became more accustomed to the heat, and increasingly enjoyed the varied sights and tempos of our days. In the next article in this series, you’ll find highpoints (and some low ones) of the next few weeks as we follow this peaceful, rather solitary path from Geneva to the middle of France.
- This portion of the route from Geneva was taken in late May 2012. Spring and fall are usually the best times for this this route. Spring usually brings more rain (and muddy trails), but it’s also greener with wildflowers in abundance.
- Mileage averaged were about 12 miles per day; the route is rated strenuous.
- The trail is well-marked.
- There is not an abundance of accommodations in the small hamlets and towns through which the trail passes, but you’ll be able to find groceries, meals, and lodging as needed.
- Those coming from the United States to walk the Via Gebennensis can find many flights to its starting point in Geneva. British Airways has several flights out of San Francisco (SFO) daily, connecting through Heathrow.
Follow this series (by subscribing above) to see how the journey continues. Additional information at backpack45’s website, click here.