Cheseaux appears to be a dormitory for Lausanne, and is not a very interesting place, either to walk in and out of, or to be in. But our chambre d’hote was very comfortable and we had a quiet room at the back. Unfortunately supper wasn’t available as it was the hosts’ night off but we were able to totter across the road to a handy restaurant. We sat in the garden watching the thunderstorms passing by each side of us, relieved not to get soaked again.

A trip to the boulangerie next door for tuna rolls and we were all set for the long day ahead, which turned out to be a bit of an unintended marathon compounded by navigational challenges through the extended urban area of Lausanne.

The initial stage, after getting clear of main roads, took us up onto Le Mont above Lausanne, which is rolling arable and horticultural land giving occasional glimpses of Lac Leman. Soon it took us uphill into another forest, the Bois de Vernand Dessus. Where the forest gave way to farmland we found rhubarb being grown on a field scale, along with extensive potato growing and farms selling direct.

From Le Grand Mont required a degree of navigational skill heading south towards Lausanne as we were off any recognised VF route and needed to negotiate both a motorway and a deep craggy gorge. Getting the wrong side of the gorge would have resulted in a significant detour from even a reasonably direct route. Matters were further confused by several large scale construction projects with associated deviations.

Descending into the gorge at the best place to cross it we found a pitiful little stream, Le Flon, depleted of flow but with a major sewer pipe running down its bed!

For most of the way into Lausanne we were able to walk through a sequence of green areas, but there was then a long stretch of walking on pavements to get into the centre and out the other side. We were rewarded with occasional glimpses of the lake between the trees far below us.

Our route took us near the cathedral so we wound our way through the cobbled streets to call in and enjoy a few minutes of quiet, enjoy the cool ambiance and get our pilgrim passports stamped. Like our Anglican churches this cathedral was subject to the Reformation and so is much less decorated with imagery than many of the Catholic cathedrals we’ve visited through France. However, we were a bit surprised to see national flags hanging over the altar.

West door with magnificent stone carvings

Outside, the area was buzzing with activity, with people setting up areas for live music and refreshment stalls. We eventually worked out that there is a festival about to start linked to the Tour du France passing through Lausanne in a few days time. That realisation made us check the route and timings of the Tour. We were relieved to find that by chance we will be further on before the Tour comes through the places we’re heading for. There are already signs up about extensive road closures and detours which would significantly inconvenience us as walkers. Although we’d seen signs about the Tour passing through Bar-sur-Aube in July when we were there in late April it hadn’t occurred to us to check the route, so we’re lucky!

Descending from the old centre of Lausanne around the cathedral we tramped through commercial and residential areas, heading for the side of the lake, which we then followed for the rest of the day.

Sometimes we were walking alongside main roads, and some of the time on tracks through the extensive vineyards which hug the steep hillsides on terraces all along the lakeside. At intervals along the lake there are small harbours interspersed with beaches where there were people swimming and sunbathing. The lake water is comfortably warm, and a swim was very tempting but for lack of suitable clothing and time. Ahead we could see the end of the lake, and behind that the Alps rising to the far horizon. Somewhere up there is the Grand Saint Bernard pass we will have to climb up to, but today it was in cloud and we couldn’t make it out just yet.

Once we were passed the extended urban sprawl, the path took us from village to village, and we began to get views back towards Lausanne as well as onwards to the end of the lake. Cully was particularly attractive, with winding cobbled streets, interesting shops, and a wonderful lakeside setting – mental note for a return visit.

It is quite staggering how much of the north side of Lac Leman is given over to vineyards. They are highly engineered with terraces, concrete roadways (frequently elevated on trestles) and extraordinarily steep drainage systems. Switzerland produces close to a million hectalitres of wine per year and this is one of the most productive areas. So why don’t we know anything about Swiss wine? Not even the Wine Society lists any Swiss wine. The reason is that apparently all but 2% is consumed within Switzerland!

Time was slipping past and it was already looking like we’d be in Vevey, where our next lodgings were, after 8pm.

Looking up the lake with Vevey, our destination, still distant, tucked around the corner.
Vevey in the distance at last!

So, delightful as walking through the vineyards was, we decided to drop down onto the road and take the more direct route.

Vevey turned out not quite the El Dorado we’d been hoping for. The overdevelopment of the lakeside is dominated by the obscenity of multiple stories of glass and concrete which is the Nestle headquarters.

We finally arrived at our lodgings after 8pm, tired and hungry after some 38km of walking – our longest day so far! There then proceeded a ridiculous debate with the Pakistani proprietor over his insistence that we hand him our passports to photocopy and pay for our room up-front. Was this another example of backpacker prejudice?

Our hotel supper that night did little justice to the delightful Pakistani food we’ve frequently enjoyed in similar establishments, despite the hugely inflated price. At least we managed to get our laundry done.

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