Day 1

Date: Friday 10/08/2018
Stage: Thonon-les-Bains > Le Petit Chesnay

Distance: 35,1 kilometers
Ascent: 1517m / Descent: 603m

Weather: Sunny, 25°C

I’m leaving rather late for my first day on the GR5. Only by 7h40 I’m finally on my way. First I need to walk 2.6 km to the station of Thonon, where I will then join the GR5. Along the way I stop at the bakery for some breakfast. At the station I see the red and white GR signs and off I go.

After a few kilometers I make a mistake and I have to do a detour that will lead me through the cute village of l’Ermitage. When I cross the D26 road I meet my first “randonneur”, a Frenchman from Bordeaux. We walk together only very briefly, because once we get to the town of Armoy, I notice that I lost my soft flask on the way. I let Nico continue and I run back and find my bottle a few hundred meters further on the road. Luckily without any damage by a car or truck. At Les Jossières I catch up with Nico and again we cross the D26. He takes a break and lights a cigarette and I continue walking. I won’t see Nico again, as his speed is definitely much lower than mine and he wants to stop close to Mérou for the night, while I want to reach Chevenoz at least.

After Armoy, the GR leads you mainly through woods and when I reach Reyvroz, I get a nice panoramic view. I’m mainly looking at the Dent d’Oche, as the GR5 is passing next to it. I also hear a lot of noise coming out of the quarry in Pombourg.

In Reyvroz the GR takes another path than what I had marked on my map. Normally you should be going east towards Vers le Pré, but now I’m being sent towards Le Sage to join the initial route just after Vers le Pré. Then starts the descent towards Le Bioge and I arrive at a water sports center really fast. You can also eat there and I decide to stop and have a hamburger with fries and a salad.

After crossing the old little bridge over the Dranse de Morzine, I’m not exactly sure which way to take. A GR sign seems to be missing, but then in the woods I come across the familiar red and white markings. The climb to Les Chênes is pretty steep and on lose rocks and seems to go on forever. At La Plantaz I finally decide to take the shortcut to Mérou via Les Girards. And I also choose to make a detour to the supermarket in Vinzier for some extra water bottles (I only left with two small bottles) and an ice cream.

On the way back to Mérou, I meet and old man on a bike. He seems to be British and came to live on the plateau. He tells me that he walked the GR5 a few years ago starting at Saint-Gingolph. We talk a bit more, but I have to continue soon.

When I’m almost in Chevenoz, I again don’t pay attention and walk straight to the town center instead of starting the climb to Prébuza and Sur les Trables. But in Chevenoz I find some clean toilets in a building of the town’s public services. I also fill my bottles for the evening. Then I start the climb that lasts until I get to my sleeping spot for the night, 4 km further ahead.

From Prébuza, I start being on the lookout for a good camping spot. Only once I got to Le Petit Chesnay, I find something suitable. There are three abandoned chalets and one has a little concrete platform in front. I take out my sleeping map and sleeping bag and make myself comfortable. I don’t set up the tent. Too much hassle. I enjoy my dinner and by 19h30 I go to bed after a long hiking day of 35 kilometers.