After a splendid breakfast provided by Frau Luder at her home near Curtilles, we set out on a grey, but at that point dry, morning, to walk five kilometres along the La Broye valley, to the town of Moudon. As we reached the town centre, it started to rain, so we sought shelter in the Swiss Reformed Church.
As I remarked in reply to a comment on an earlier post, although pilgrimage is not really part of the Swiss Reformed Church tradition, I was many times impressed by the way their Churches which are located on the Jakobsweg/Chemin de Saint-Jacques, seek to make welcome pilgrims who visit them.
The Church in Moudon illustrated this very well with this specially created private St. James Chapel.
Within the choir stalls, St. James could also be found, with a scallop shell on his hat.
After exploring the Church, we realised that the rain was now much heavier. So we made a quick run across the town centre square to a café, where we both enjoyed a Café au lait which we made last as long as possible, in the hope that the rain would stop!
We were successful in our endeavour so that it was dry once more, as we resumed walking. From Moudon, the Chemin de Saint-Jacques climbs upwards over 220 metres on a mixture of minor roads and forest tracks, to the village of Vucherens, where we rested and ate our picnic lunch.
In Vucherens, as in so many places along the Chemin, there were a couple of signs advertising B and B accommodation to passing pilgrims. But it was far too early to stop so we walked on, feeling fairly sure we would find a suitable place to stay, further along the way. But as we walked that afternoon, the weather once more turned rainy and miserable, and signs advertising accommodation were totally absent.
We reached the large village of Montpreveyres where we thought there ought to be somewhere to stay, even though nothing was shown in Sybille’s printed accommodation list. But there was nothing to be had. Leaving Montpreveyres involved walking on or alongside the busy Cantonal road for about 400 metres, before our route took us into the forest where we struggled with very muddy conditions underfoot in several places. Sybille said that they were the worse underfoot conditions she had experienced in the whole of her time walking across Switzerland.
Feeling increasingly wet and tired, we finally reached the edge of Epalinges, which whilst a separate commune, is effectively an outer suburb of Lausanne. We had to walk for at least another forty-five minutes through streets of wealthy suburban houses, until we finally reached a major road intersection. There, on the other side of the roundabout was a bar and hotel. We both agreed, although we knew it would be expensive, which it was, this was where we were going to spend the night. We were tired, we were wet, we had walked 29 kilometres and it was now just gone 19.00 in the evening.
After a large beer in the bar, and a warm shower in our hotel bathroom, Sybille invited me to a nearby restaurant for our evening meal. As with the hotel it was expensive – but the food was good and the house red was very quaffable. After the day we had experienced, we felt we both deserved it!
The next morning unfortunately did not start well. Wanting to recover from our exertions of the previous day and not planning to walk so far that Saturday, we went down to breakfast just after 09.00. What followed was a major struggle have any breakfast at all, despite the fact that breakfast was meant to be served until 10.00.
There was a large group of Chinese tourists staying at the hotel and the one person on duty for breakfast, was more interested in clearing up after the Chinese who were slowly leaving, than he was in making any provision for us. We had to ask for places to be set for us, ask for coffee and cups to drink it from, and so it went on, despite going to speak to the man on the reception desk several times. All I can say is our experience was not a good recommendation for Hotel Union, Epalinges.
At least the weather was fine and sunny as we left the hotel. Despite now being in an urban area, our route did take us initially along a wooded valley and through an attractive park. Soon afterwards, we were rewarded with this view of Lausanne and its Cathedral, with Lac Léman beyond.
When we finally reached the Cathedral, for the first occasion in our time of being on pilgrimage together, we had to cope with quite large numbers of other people being around, a combination of it being the weekend and Lausanne attracting visiting tourists. We explored the Cathedral and then made our way through the main shopping streets before enjoying a small beer sitting outside in the sunshine.
Seeking to walk out of the city centre towards the shore of Lac Léman, we experienced an unusual lack of waymarking. But a combination of Sybille’s German guide and a free street map I picked up from the hotel, got us to the lake shore and the resumption of Route 4 signs. Just before we reached the shore, we passed the HQ of the International Olympic Committee.
The view across Lac Léman was delightful and the weather was warm enough for a few people to be swimming in the lake. For the next few kilometres, the Chemin was alongside the lake or very close to it, eventually taking us from Lausanne, into the neighbouring commune of St-Sulpice. I tempted Sybille to stop for a little further liquid refreshment in a lakeside bar and, as we were drinking, the inevitable happened – it started to rain. We rapidly moved to find shelter under a beer garden umbrella.
Deciding that after the previous day of getting wet and struggling to find accommodation, we didn’t want a repeat experience, Sybille consulted her guide and her accommodation list. One possibility was the Jordan family who were listed as accueil jacquaire, people who offered overnight accommodation specifically for pilgrims, but who were 1.5km off the Chemin in the neighbouring commune of Ecublens.
Sybille phoned the number – the family were at home and said that they loved having pilgrims to stay. The rain having eased but not stopped, we resumed walking and reached St-Sulpice Church. From there we left the Chemin and headed away from the lake towards Ecublens, buying a bottle of wine on the way, to share with our hosts.
Our hosts were wonderful as well as being a fascinating family. The parents, Martin and Ruth, have four sons, two at University, two of Secondary/High School age. The eldest son was away climbing mountains but the other three were at home, along with the girlfriend of the second eldest son. The family do not have a car but rely on their bicycles and public transport. They also do not have a television. Much of what we all ate that evening had come from their garden, including an interesting variety of potato that was purple!
Martin and Ruth both originally come from a German-speaking part of Switzerland and therefore the language within the family is Schweizerdeutsch/Swiss German. They all also speak Hochdeutsch/High German. However, living in Francophone Switzerland and the children having all attended local schools, they all also spoke French. And both parents, along with the girlfriend, who had spent time in Singapore, spoke good English too. Therefore the conversation around the dining table that evening, was conducted in four different languages!
Ruth told us that of all her sons, the one most reluctant to learn and speak French was the second eldest. However, his girlfriend was a local French-speaking Swiss young lady who didn’t speak, or want to speak, German. Therefore, much to his mother’s amusement, he was having to overcome his reluctance and use French as his langue d’amour 🙂
The hospitality of the Jordan family was exceptional and was in such stark contrast to our previous night in the Hotel in Epalinges.