Le Grand Tour: Day 44 – Lyon To Sault-Brénaz (81km)

CURRENT LOCATION: Café Fil de l’Eau, Sault-Brénaz

I don’t like Mondays… Someone has beaten me to the song. I really don’t like Mondays in France as most places are closed. There is a special corner in hell for bank holidays that happen to be on a Monday in France. Today was one of the latter. Nothing open whatsoever this morning. We are celebrating the ‘Assumption of Mary’. Not being a man of religion I don’t know what Mary was assuming but perhaps it was that there might be something, somewhere that was open to buy lunch on a Monday bank holiday in France. There isn’t. Even the French are exasperated; one couple who were cycling in the opposite direction stopped me in desperation at around midday asking if I’d passed an épicerie that was open. I hadn’t. They broke down and sobbed beside the cycle path in desperation. I told them my plan was to survive on my box of peanuts until I could cook something in the evening. I scarpered as quickly as I could lest they use force in getting hold of the cacahuètes. When I did I turn to look, I could see them chasing after me using surprisingly fluent Chaucerian language vowing to prise the peanuts from my hands. The entente cordiale only goes so far… They were my peanuts. I digress.

The first part of the cycling day involved following the Rhône quite closely as it gently turned the corner to start flowing west rather than south. In turn my cycle gradually turned from being to the north to being towards the east. There is a very large park to the north-east of Lyon that is called, unsurprisingly, Le Grand Parc Miribel Jonage. Cycling though it must have accounted for at least a fifth of today’s 81km. Thereafter I needed to head away from the river for reasons known only to the Via Rhôna cycle path planners. The route after Jons has definitely changed in recent months. The signs didn’t match the route on OpenStreetMap but as my map (picked up at the tourist office back in Avignon) suggested that at this part of the Via Rhôna was only ‘opérantionnel à partir de juillet 2022’ I excused the discrepancies and followed the signs. It was a while before I found what was clearly the new bit of the route but within 10 minutes had lost it again. How did that happen? I did find the end of the new bit about 20 minutes later by reverting back to OpenStreetMap. I wonder what I missed… 

Thereafter the scenery was increasingly distracting. The valley of the Rhône in this area is bordered by sheer cliffs and with the Rhône itself flowing as a torrent after yesterday’s rain, the ensemble was increasingly dramatic and welcome. The river has also changed colour to a deep turquoise green. Watch the video. Why is that? I’m sure prior to Lyon is was more of a murky brown.

Upon arrival in the town of Lagnieu, Lidl came to the rescue as it was open and selling food. I placed Wanda in the entrance area within a small area sealed off by two automatic doors that could only be operated by sometime entering the building. There was a similar arrangement for exiting the supermarket. Alas having bought my bread, banana, toothpaste and biscuits I then had re-enter the ‘entrance’ chamber to retrieve the bike. I stood waiting for another customer to enter the building for at least ten minutes in order to escape. The price, I suppose, of keeping Wanda safe.

At this point I knew the end of the cycling day was close; just another few kilometres to the campsite I had identified last night. It’s a busy site full of people white water rafting on a man-made channel on the island where it is situated that makes full use of the force of the Rhône, especially today after all that rain. 

I reckon I could / should be in Geneva by the end of Wednesday as I estimate another 170km and at the end of the Via Rhôna (on the eastern end of Lac Léman) by Thursday? This leaves what remains of the EuroVélo 17 – the route to Andermatt – to finish by the end of the weekend. Irrespective, my next Monday will definitely be in a country that doesn’t shut its doors on the first working day of the week. Why would the Swiss even think of doing such a thing when their prices are so high? Those Zurich bankers need to get their money from somewhere… 


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