August 29 – Le Chable/Lausanne/St. Bernard Pass to Camp Aosta, Italy (45 km, 28 miles)

August 29 Route Map

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View of the vineyards in the Lavaux region of Switzerland, on the north side of Lake Geneva. This has been an important wine producing area since the 10th century. ^

 

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This is Day 6 since I first arrived at Florence’s place and it’s getting to be time to head south to Italy. But before I get back on the bike, we’re all going to do some sightseeing around Lake Geneva and Lausanne today. Our first stop was the Lavaux vineyards. This is an area on the north side of the lake, with south-facing slopes, that has been one of Switzerland’s principal wine producing areas since the 10th Century. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We drove around, stopping periodically to take photos of grapes on the vines and the scenery (and to taste a few grapes – but just a few!). We eventually made our way to Lausanne and took a walk along the lake front, ending up at a place where you can rent paddle boats. We got one for an hour, with Florence and Jenny providing the propulsion, while I sat in the back and enjoyed not having to pedal. There was a sign on the boat indicating a dangerous area where the large lake ferries approach and depart, and it said in bold red letters, “Danger Zone”. But somehow our two drivers neglected to see the sign until we were in it. But the sign didn’t say to stay out of the danger zone, so we took canvas top off the boat and just relaxed in the sunshine, bobbing in the waves. A bit later it started getting crowded with other paddle boats so we headed back, as our hour’s time was up anyway.

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The Lavaux region stretches across the northern side of Lake Geneva. These grapes will be ready to harvest in a couple of weeks. ^

 

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After Lausanne, we drove back to Martigny and then up to the Grand Saint Bernard Pass, on the border between Switzerland and Italy, and at an elevation of about 8,100 feet. I originally was planning to bike up to the pass, but that would have meant that I’d do it tomorrow, and the weather forecast was calling for 6-8 inches of new snow – not conducive to safe biking. Instead, I’ve decided to just ride down into Italy from the top of the pass today. So once we got to the pass, I unloaded my bike from the car and packed my gear, said my goodbyes to Florence and Jenny, and headed on down the road into Italy.

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View of the road to Great Saint Bernard Pass, which is one of the highest road passes across the Alps. ^

 

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This view, from the Italian side of the pass, looks north to the hospice founded in 1049 by Saint Bernard of Menthon. This pass has been a strategic crossing point over the Alps for the past 2,000 years. Amazing. ^

 

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It was a fast 45 kilometer ride – all downhill – to the town of Aosta, where I found a nice campground for the night. Dinner was at the campground’s restaurant, and was a 12” authentic Italian pizza, loaded with toppings on a very thin, crispy crust. Now that’s the way pizza’s supposed to be – not like the stuff we get in the States! Very tasty.

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View of the mountains on the south (Italian) side of St. Bernard Pass. ^

 

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In 1964, a tunnel was opened that passed through the mountains 2,000 feet below St. Bernard Pass. While the road over the pass is open only during the summer months, the tunnel is open year-round and is now the primary route for the shipment of goods through this part of the Alps. This photo shows the road and tunnel entrance on the south, Italian side of the pass. ^

 

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