Returning to the scene of the crime


Day Two: Vevey to Aigle 25.4 km (15.8 miles)

I need to get something off my chest. About ten years ago while visiting this same area in Switzerland I jumped over the turnstiles at Chateau Chillon and toured the castle without paying the entry fee.

I know. There’s no excuse. It shouldn’t matter that the castle had closed early, before its posted closing time. It shouldn’t matter that I was certain I’d never come this way again and I felt like they’d robbed me of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit a carefully restored 12th century castle. It should matter that I knew that French (or French speaking) tourist sites post as their closing times the point as which the final visitors must leave, rather than the time the final visitors must arrive. I had frustratingly arrived in between those two times. Slightly outraged at the custom that had once also cost me a view of the Bayeux Tapestry, I hopped the gate when no one was looking and took a self-guided tour of the castle’s musty but fascinating interior.

Beautiful but unforgiving.

Turned out it hadn’t been a one-in-a-lifetime visit after all. The official Via Francigena leads right past this fairy tale pile and as I walked by it today I was smugly and (mostly) unrepentantly satisfied I didn’t need to pay the admission. I’d already seen the inside.

My return to the scene of the crime took place after I’d rolled out of bed in my stifling room across from the noisy bell tower in Lausanne. It was after I stopped for breakfast at what I’m sure will be my last Starbucks in two months. It was after my train ride to Vevey where I’d finished yesterday and certainly was after the gorgeous 10 km walk on the lakeside trail through Vevey and then Montreux. But it was before I finally made it to the end of the lake, before I had lunch on a pier and before I said a sad goodbye to the gorgeous lake and turned left for the first part of the days long climb up the Rhône River Valley toward Italy.

Seeing me go by, I now believe the Castle called upon the Universe to pay me back for my crime by getting me lost for half an hour, by making the sun exceptionally hot, by making the air humid, and by making the trail straight, flat, paved and dreary. Except the beauty of the mountains on both sides could not be spoiled by the Castle’s revenge.

As an aspiring pipe organist, I couldn’t believe my good fortune in stumbling, right there on the trail, upon the Museum of the Swiss Organ. Sadly it was closed and locked. No entry even for turnstile jumpers like me.

After arriving at my destination at 4:00 I showered and fell asleep on the bed until 9:00, my best sleep so far, but a jet lagged one coming at the wrong time of day. Aigle has a nice, central commercial district complete with shops and restaurants. I caught a pizza there before returning to my room for a hopefully long and restful snooze.

Hiker’s notes: Vevey to Villaneuve, except for a couple of km on the road, is a lakefront promenade paradise. Enjoy it while you can. After the turn up the valley the stage is mostly alongside either a small canal or the train track, so pray for a cool day. Before Rôche the GPS tracks keep you to the left of the canal and forsake the well marked bridge crossing to the other side. Believe the signs, not the GPS tracks. The GPS way was literally impossible due to the inadvertent presence of a giant mountain and clearly must’ve been drawn from someone’s desktop rather than by a real walker. After Rôche, stick to the road alongside the tracks all the way to the Aigle (pronounced “EGG-luh”) station. It’s dreary, yes, but far shorter than the wandering track to the left that adds little but distance to the stage. Note that the price at Hotel le Suisse has increased from cf70 to cf100. Though I had a reservation there I cancelled it at checkin and opted for a nearby B&B at cf60 where the kind owner is thoughtfully doing my laundry.

Leaving Vevey.

Outdoor market in Montreux.

Elegance of past years in Montreux.

Realizing now that the VF is marked as route 70 here.

Lunch on a pier on the lake in Villaneuve.


Rails, sun, corn and asphalt for miles.

10 thoughts on “Returning to the scene of the crime

  1. Sandy! I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts every day when you are on one of your pilgrimages. Your descriptions are so interesting and the photos and bring it all to life. Enjoy your journey! Rick.

  2. I followed your blog last year when I was also walking the VF. Your writing and photography is great – and already bringing back fond memories. Looking forward to following you on this year’s journey. On the excuse that Sigeric took a boat, I embarked on the ferry between Lausanne and Villeneuve – you have some wonderful days walking ahead of you. The Val d’Aosta was scenically my favorite section of the whole journey from Canterbury to Rome.

  3. …crime does not pay. Repeat after me: crime does not pay. Got that? Oh, did you mean human “Organ,” or otherwise?

  4. It would be very helpful–I think–if you were to give us your co-ordinates/bearings, and where you happened to stay each night for each of your postings accordingly there-of. Namasté…

  5. Hello Sandy, willcom in Switzerland. What a surprise to find pictures so close to our home. We live in Port BE a village close to Biel-Bienne in the beautiful lakeland. Should you once walk in this Region, my wife Pili and I would much agree to welcome you.
    Cordialmente, Martin

    • Hello Martin! What a joy to read your greeting and to know I am nearby. Thank you for your kind offer of hospitality. I shall never forget it. I wish you many happy trails!

      • Thank you Sandy, I’m following your activities. Myself i’m going on this summer by oneday hikes on the Suisse way Nr 5 (Jura Höhenweg)

  6. Suggested Aps for Hikers in Swizzerland, based on the oficial waymarks: “Schweiz Mobil” klicking on “Karte”, you can jump directly to the Mapsection where you are. Swiss governamental Maps, zooming to different scales. The green lines are marked trails!

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