Adventure

Le Grand Tour: Day 48 – Aigle

CURRENT LOCATION: Camping de la Piscine, Aigle

As I thought I would, I have spent the day in Aigle. It rained heavily overnight, continued raining this morning and this afternoon and only decided to stop at around 3pm. It remains very overcast with the clouds hanging around the mountains that surround the town on three sides and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if we are in for more rain later today. Tomorrow morning there is a chance of rain but things are looking much brighter for the afternoon and continuing into the weekend and next week. Back to you Huw…

If there were any campsite you’d choose to be on a very wet day in Switzerland it must surely be Camping de la Piscine here in Aigle. Excellent facilities including a large communal tent for use by anyone seeking shelter from the elements. I have commandeered one of the four tables and have spent much of the day sitting at it until I ventured into town this afternoon. More of that in a moment.

Here’s my map of France. If you look carefully you can see the route that I’ve been following highlighted in yellow. The gaps are where I have taken trains…

…but looking forwards, I’ve actually done some quality planning for the next few days. Here it is:

OK. Perhaps not too detailed but I’ve firmed things up since taking that photo:

  • Saturday: the WarmShowers person has confirmed so I’m staying at his house tomorrow and attending a family birthday party which should be interesting
  • Sunday: I phoned Camping Brigga and I think I’m booked in for the night. (Neither the woman who picked up the phone or the colleague she passed me to and me had a language in common but I think we got there in the end…) 
  • Monday: I tried phoning the campsite in Andermatt but there was no answer. This is the place I stayed at in 2010 and it doesn’t look as though it’s changed. It’s basically a big field so I’m sure they will squeeze in as many people who they can get to pay. It doesn’t concern me that I haven’t reserved this in advance. Although… See later comments below. 

With all this admin done and with the rain having almost abated, I headed off into town in search of a cash machine and the UBS bank duly delivered me a small stack of vibrantly coloured notes. I noticed a tourist office across the road so I popped in to see if they had any useful maps. 

While waiting for a visitor from, I think, Norway to purchase the tourist office’s entire stock of wine (the tourist office also appears to be a wine shop) which took some time, I glanced outside and noticed lots of Tour de France markings on the floor. This matched the Tour de France bunting I’d seen earlier. When the Norwegian chap had filled his truck with all the wine and driven off, my first question was about the Tour de France. It turns out that stage 9 on July 10th set off from Aigle. Mmm… 

“Have you visited the UCI headquarters?” asked the woman.

“Err… No. Is it in Aigle?”

Indeed it is. So that made an interesting diversion for the second half of the afternoon. On the outskirts of the town it houses offices, a café, an exhibition about the Tour de France and a full-blown velodrome. Who’d have thought that my enforced day off the bike due to the weather had such an attraction on its doorstep. 

I tried my luck with the receptionist to see if anyone would speak to me for the podcast but she was clearly under strict instructions to say “no” to any request lest I be an undercover reporter from the New York Times. They missed their chance. 

Second surprise of the day was when I arrived back at the campsite. Another cyclist had arrived and was sitting in the communal tent. I exchanged greetings but there was something very familiar about him. After a few moments we worked out that he was the man of spoken to at the Vélo Café place at the start of day 34 in Agen. He was waiting to get his bike repaired at the time. Fortunately this time he was wearing more clothes than he had been wearing back near the Canal de la Garonne (I suppose it wasn’t appropriate to be going around bare chested today). He finishes his cycle by going home tomorrow. When I showed him my planning for the next three days to Andermatt he was a little sceptical that I’d be able to do it in three days. Perhaps I also need a plan B…


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