Day 8 - Le Chable to Metz (France)
One of the things I've been trying to avoid since Germany was motorways and despite this being a long long old day to get to Metz part-way up France I was determined to stay mostly motorway-free. Well, that and avoid paying the rather high cost of 40 Swiss Chuffs for a motorway vignette tax thing. The 40 Chuffs is an annual tax jobby and is the only one available these days as they seem to have done away with the shorter duration one I got a few years ago when on a car trip, but as I would only have needed it for an hour land a half or so there was no way I was paying that. I'm way too tight. Typical northerner.
So the day was designed to be motorway-free all the way and pretty much ended up that way right until the last hour or so outside Metz, and even then was a toll-free part of the French motorway system. I did read online before setting off that it is 'impossible to avoid the Swiss motorway tax' if you are riding through the country but it really is dead easy. On this trip I've now crossed south to north from Tirano to Chur, and now right over to the west and had no problem at all sticking to A-roads and avoiding motorways and as the tax is only needed for motorways have also avoided that. If you want to avoid the Vignette tax then it can easily be done.
The day's route went from the Verbier area up to Villeneuve on the end of Lake Geneva, then through Montreaux and Lausanne to a small border crossing (again, no need to stop at all) and into France, with the road hugging the edge of the lake for a good length of the way. Montreaux was a rather cool looking town and Lausanne was the only place where the traffic got heavy enough to snarl up, but I was soon through that. It was also exceedingly hot today, about 33 degrees, so the coat eventually had to be strapped over the box on the back to stop me melting completely.
In France I got way too excited by the sight of France's one decent contribution to culinary excellence since the 1970s, a Buffalo Grill. Marvellous. What can be better than ribs smothered in artificial BBQ sauce while country music is playing with plastic cowboys and buffalos dotted around the place outside?
My other stop was one of the 'etap' places the French sign off the main dual carriageways and motorways - towns or villages which have all the facilities of a services without building a special place. And as a way of getting extra visitors into the town it works - the church here was the afternoon coffee stop.
I left Verbier at 8.30am and arrived in Metz around 7.00pm - a long day but a fairly easy one with a few coffee stops and the lunch stop.
Metz is a surprisingly nice town with a huge old cathedral in the middle, a couple of rivers and loads of tiny streets around it so a most agreeable place to while away a couple of hours before bed and then the final drag home at last.