Distant Mountains visible left to right include The Matterhorn (Switzerland), Mont Blanc (Haute Savoie), Mont Pourri, Grande Casse, Bellecote (Savoie)
Before leaving the department of Ain (01) we decided to forego all the usual tourist rubbish in the valleys and just take advantage of a sunny day to hike up to a panoramic vantage point – which we had no idea actually existed? We also had no idea what we might see if we eventually found something. To help we switched off the GPS navigation and followed our noses – going first up to a small but completely dead ski station then taking forest trails that became more and more obscure and dodgy in appearance. Instinct of course does work in such situations and we got it spot on – finding the most stunning location by hiking up for an hour or so after parking. We were right on the tail end of the Jura mountains on a narrow ridge and peak that provided an almost 360° view of a vast area of France and Switzerland. The location is just to the North East of Bellegarde-sur-Valserine.
In fact we did attempt to hike in the Valserine gorge to look at the river erosion of the limestone – but it was so horribly polluted and stinking of everything from excrement to plastics and chemicals that we had to give that a miss. I actually couldn’t smell anything but Christiane has a nose like a bloodhound so she gives the advance warning signals.
Juras on the left, Geneva and lake Léman in the middle – Alps on the right.
Mont Blanc closer up.
Looking to the South – on the right is the Grand Columbier. Middle is the Rhone – coming from Lake Léman and towards the left is the Lac du Bourget leading to Chambery.
Driving home later on in the day we stopped by the side of the Rhone at the hyrdo-electric dam at Génissiat on the Rhone. The most impressive thing to see however was the stunning level of pollution in the water. In 1949 this was the most powerful hydro-electric dam in Europe.
Further down the Rhone we found a widening where there was a port for pleasure boats and a small and friendly café still open and selling excellent coffee – the “Lac du Lit au Roi”. Thankfully most of the obvious pollution seems to have been backed up by the dam and this place was charming and clean in appearance.