Friday 10 October.
There was breakfast included in the hotel price and it made it a bit more worthwhile. It was very good with muesli, fruit, croissants, bread, jam and coffee. Before going we got a receipt in case they tried to charge us twice. We hadn't got our credentials stamped at the Religious Commune yesterday so asked the hotel owner to do them instead.
We got going just after 7:30 am but once Moira stopped to get a baguette and when we couldn't find the way out of the town it was eventually 8 am before we were on track. I thought that now we were on the way into the high Alps it would be quiet country lanes and little villages. It wasn't, we had to negotiate our way around motorways, travel beside railway lines and find our route through large towns. Also we expected to be climbing but today it was perfectly flat all the way. Not long after getting on the right road out of Villeneuve we next got lost at a motorway entry exit junction. We must have taken a wrong turning because the route we were on didn't correspond with the notes I had transcribed from Cicerone. After consulting the maps all we could figure out was to follow a busy road to the town of Roche to find the route again. Once we reached Roche all of a sudden we picked VF markers and were on track again following the railway to Aigle. We stopped for coffee just before entering the town on a handy bench.
It was a struggle again in town finding the route. At a mini-roundabout the book said go straight but the name of the road didn't correspond. I found the named road going left but I should have turned right on it, but it certainly wasn't straight on. Once we got our lefts and rights sorted out it was a busy road that crossed the Lausanne-Martigny main road and a motorway before reaching the River Rhone. At the river we were on a tarred cycle path that ran beside the river all the way to Massongex 13 km away. It sounded quite good a walk along beside the river but it wasn't so attractive. The river was lined on one side with an oil refirery and other factories churning out smoke and steam and spoiling the scenery. We wouldn't have thought we were in Switzerland but for the backdrop of majestic mountains.
It had been raining through the night but was dry when we started. It was overcast initially but the clouds began to clear and when the sun came out it warmed up considerably. This didn't stopped us really striding out along the riverside path as the sweat dripped from our brows. We stopped at 1 pm for lunch, bread and cheese with coffee. When we got going again it was surprising how far we had gone with our fast pace. It was only a couple of kilometres before we crossed the bridge into Massongez and on another cycle path with only 3 km to go to Saint-Maurice.
Coming into our destination for the night there was another beautiful chateau and the tower and spire of the Abbey. This time we found our hotel, it was another religious retreat, the Franciscan Foyer. Years ago when you booked into a hotel you filled in the register and were shown to your room, now it takes ages to first put some data into the computer then fill in forms before you eventually get the key and find the room yourself. It was worth the wait, the room was perfect, a lot better than last night's and cheaper. We booked dinner as well , it was 'only' 18 Swiss francs each.
On the way to the hotel Moira bought a couple of beers at a shop, now we lay back on the bed and refreshed ourselves with a cool beer. We showered then went for a walk around the town. The Abbey closed for visits just shortly before we arrived but it was still open there were people in silent prayer waiting the start of the mass. We looked around from the back of the church, it was plain in construction and not much statutory but again the windows were striking. All the churches recently seem to have the same style of design, the colours are vivid and the artwork more modern. Not that they are abstract or impressionist but the lines flow and curve more, the figures more lifelike and natural. We didn't wait as the service was about to begin.
Outside the Abbey there was a plaque with the Via Francigena route marked out. A woman was examining it and we got talking. She was Italian and lived Siena where the route passes so she was very interested. We told her we were doing it and gave her a card, she was suitably impressed. We walked through the town, behind the abbey was a wall of rock as the cliffs rose sharply and above that the jagged peaks of the Alps. Turning back along Grand Rue it was obvious that it was closed for traffic, tables from the bars were set out in the middle of the road where people sat having their 'sundowners'.
We had half an hour to get ready for dinner when we got back. It was a communal meal with everyone at long tables. There were three men only when we arrived but others came along later. We had to buy wine and got a red that we though cost 6:22 Swiss francs. The meal was good, a lovely soup, roast pork with rice and carrots and to finish stewed apricots. There was just the right amount to eat and we felt satisfied. Though not happy when we came to pay for the wine, the figure we thought was a '6' was the symbol for the Swiss franc, it cost 22 Swiss francs for the bottle. The worst of it was that it didn't taste any different or better than our usual €2 plonk.
The WiFi was good and I was able to get the BBC again. We listened to some comedies then I fell asleep. I wakened when Moira was arranging the iPads to charge and was surprised when the radio was off. She said I had been sleeping for over an hour. The problem with going to sleep too early is that I waken about 3 am and can't get back over again.