We were still quite tired this morning, despite having a quiet room at the back of the hotel, and slow getting going. First task was to find somewhere to have breakfast, and we settled on a cafe across the square. We also needed food for lunch and went in search of boulangerie and supermarket, both not far away.

Heading straight to the lakeside we encountered a statue to the memory of Charlie Chaplin who spent the last 25 years of his life living here with his second wife and family.

Meanwhile, on the lake we watched in some amazement a woman on a board with a hydrofoil skeg just skimming across the water by rhythmically extending and retracting her legs. It looked very energetic!

The morning was spent walking along the lake front, with lovely gardens and flowerbeds beside the path, meandering around small bays and headlands towards Montreux where the international jazz and music festival is in full flow, happily coinciding with the Tour de France coming through in a few days time. There was a holiday atmosphere, and many different nationalities enjoying the beauty of Montreux’s lakeside setting and its mountain backdrop. Sadly, here too that natural beauty is slightly marred by over development with large blocks of flats and new buildings still going up.

All along the front there were music venues, food and drink stalls, and stalls selling clothes, jewellery, potions, artworks, and all sorts of other things people might buy whilst relaxing on holiday.

As we were leaving Montreux we were stopped by two young American women: one living in Geneva, the other in Berlin. They’d seen the banners on our rucksacks and wanted to know all about what we were doing. Further on we passed the Chateau Chatillon, an impressive medieval fortification on a spur on the lake. The paddle boats which ply the lake’s ports from Lausanne to Villeneuve, where we were heading next, also stop off here.

A short distance further and we were into the urban sprawl that is Villeneuve, at the top end of the lake. From here we turned inland to start our way up the Rhone valley towards the Grand Saint Bernard pass and over into Italy.

One of many interesting lakeside sculptures – this one swirls in the wind

The Rhone valley here is wide and almost flat. It has been a key transportation route between southern and central Europe since early times. The basic infrastructure was installed on the orders of Napoleon, and it has served Switzerland well ever since. There are main roads and international rail routes, as well as smaller roads and local trains plying up and down the valley, which is therefore quite noisy.

In between all the transport links are wide swathes of arable and horticultural land, growing a wide range of crops, as well as yet more vineyards clinging to the hillsides, and numerous industrial facilities. An extensive waste processing plant and digester was processing a range of waste streams from garden and food waste to paper and plastic.

Crossing over the railway shortly before Aigle we took one last look up the valley and then tackled the final uphill walk to get to Yvorne, a pretty village on the lower slopes of the valley surrounded by vineyards.

We found our billet on a hillside in the middle of the village and settled down to relax on the front terrace with an aperitif and excellent supper. We can recommend the local wines, though you’ll have to come here to drink them as almost no Swiss wine is exported!

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