2016-06-30 (Day 14) La Bathie – Annecy

Today’s photo shows a fire brigade boat beside the jetty on Lake Annecy. I tweeted this photo joking that I knew where Fireman Sam was planning to go on his holidays as here was his cruiseboat waiting for him. But with hundreds of boats criss- crossing the lake every day in the summer, I guess the fire brigade need their own boat to respond to any accidents on the lake.

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Travoy leaving Camping La Joli Mont. I had planned to get up at 5 o’clock and climb the Col de la Madeleine but it was raining heavily and still dark when the alarm went off so I just switched the alarm off and ended up sleeping until near 9 o’clock. Had the weather been good, I may have tackled the climb with just my bike leaving Travoy and the tent behind. It would have taken about 3 hours to climb from La Bathie and about an hour to come back so in all a total of 4 hours. However, I still hadn’t fully recovered from being sick on Monday so maybe it is just as well I didn’t tackle the climb as I needed all the rest I could get.

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Total cycled today – 55 km. Total cycled so far – 635 km. Relatively easy day’s cycling today though the climb up to the Le Belvedere campsite in Annecy was a zinger.

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Electrical sub-station painted to commemorate the Tour de France. In 2013, the Tour de France celebrated it’s 100th edition and one of the stages that year went through La Bathie. This mural shows Maurice Garin who won the first Tour de France in 1903 by over 3 hours, which is still a record margin for the Tour to this day. Due to World Wars 1 and 2, ten editions of the Tour were missed so the 100th edition wasn’t held until 2013. Stage 19 that went through La Bathie started in Bourg d’Oisans and finished at Le Grand Bornand and was won by the Portuguese cyclist Rui Costa.

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Sign for U2 garage. I know Bono has a massive mansion on the Cote d’Azur and I am sure he has a fleet of vehicles on standby ready for anytime he visits. Well, if his fleet of vehicles ever need servicing, then where better to get them fixed up than at the U2 garage in Albertville.

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French flag hanging from the balcony of a hotel in Albertville. France had beaten Ireland a few days previously and were due to play Iceland a few days later in the quarter final of Euro 2016. However, this hotel was the only one I saw in all of Albertville with a French flag. However, on closer inspection, the bunting below the French flag is not for Euro 2016 but for the Tour de France. The Tour was due to visit Albertville in about 3 week’s time and perhaps was due to go past this hotel.

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Sign for the Cormet de Roselend in Albertville. The Cormet de Roselend is one of the most scenic climbs in the Alps and forms part of the Route des Grandes Alpes, which I hope to complete next year. At 1967m in altitude, it means a climb of 1600m from Albertville which believe me is quite a climb. Most of the famous climbs in France, such as Ventoux, Alpe d’Huez and the Tourmalet involve a climb of about 1000 – 1200m, so the Cormet de Roselend is a scale above even those monster climbs.

Cormet de Roselend profiles. From Albertville to the summit is about 40 km but most profiles of the climb start in Beaufort which is about 15 km km from Albertville. The climb has featured in the Tour de France a few times, including in 2007 where it dwarfed nearly every other climb on that Tour. On the Route des Grandes Alpes, the climb starts from Flumet which is at about 800m in altitude or about 500m above Albertville. However, starting in Flumet means climbing the Col des Saisies to 1700m before descending to Beaufort at 800m. So from Flumet to the summit of the Cormet de Roselend involves about 1900m of climbing and 50 km of cycling. That is more than the Grand Saint Bernard from Martigny and on a par with the Iseran from Bourg Saint Maurice and the Galibier from Saint Michel de Maurienne. However, the Cormet de Roselend road is certainly a much quieter and much safer route to Bourg Saint Maurice than cycling on the N90.

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Start of cycle path or veloroute to Annecy. The 44 km long cycle path between Albertville and Annecy is one of the best cycle paths in the world. Most of the way is along a greenway or Voie Verte, which is completely separate from the local traffic. The greenway was mostly quiet but the last 10 km between Duingt and Annecy was mobbed by cyclists out for a spin alongside Lac du Annecy.

Abandoned cafe near Albertville with a faded sign for the 1992 Winter Olympics. Albertville is a lovely town but it is a bit run down in places. In 1992, it staged the Winter Olympics but the only evidence of that event that I came across was at this abandoned cafe on the outskirts of the town. You can just about make out the Olympic logo on a very faded Coca-Cola sign hanging from the cafe. France has staged the Winter Olympics on 3 occasions and the nearby city of Annecy applied to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. However, it lost out to Pyeongchang in South Korea so Albertville in 1992 will remain for the time being as the last French town to host an Olympic Games.

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2 fishermen in the La Chaise river near Ugine. People sometimes ask me what surprised me most about France and I always answer just how few cyclists you see compared to how many fisherman you see. Most days cycling through France you would see more people fishing than you would see cycling. In Ugine, these fishermen were just 2 of about a dozen people I spotted fishing on the La Chaise river. There are thousands of rivers in France and almost every day you would see a few people out fishing. In contrast, very rarely would you come across anyone out cycling apart from in the Alps and near the border with Belgium. In the rest of France, fishermen seemed to outnumber cyclists 2 or 3 to 1. However, that wasn’t the case today. While I probably spotted about 50 fishermen today, there were hundreds of cyclists on the cycle path between Ugine and Annecy.

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Herd of horses at a riding school in Ugine. The cycle path to Annecy takes you past the Centre Equistre Ugine or Ugine Riding School. The school has about a dozen horses and most of them were eating hay from a cage in the centre of the yard. But one of the horses was behind the stables as if trying to hide from the other horses. The horse seems to be holding her rear left leg, so perhaps she injured it and didn’t want the other horses to see the injury.

Some images of the Voie Verte from near Ugine. The greenway from Ugine to Annecy is just stunning. It is completely separate from the local roads and there are numerous barriers to prevent anything apart from cyclists and pedestrians gaining access. The route take you through a huge park in Ugine and then through a small forest once clear of the town. Between Ugine and Duignt, the greenway was mostly quiet but from Duignt to Annecy itself along the lake, the cyclepath was mobbed by cyclists and pedestrians.

A sawmill near to Faverges. Their is little to see from the greenway apart from countryside but occasionally, the route of the cyclepath take you past a local business such as the sawmill above. The sawmill seemed to specialize in cutting logs for use as firewood and there weren’t any lengths of timber on display. The sawmill was flying the flag of Savoy which is a white cross on a red background. It is very similar to the Swiss flag which is a red cross on a white background.

Lac du Annecy. It is only when you get to near Duingt, that you get to see Lac du Annecy from the greenway. The lake is quite a sight with its turquoise colored water and the mountains of Haute Savoie in the background. It is apparently Europe’s cleanest lake because of strict environmental regulations introduced in the 1960s. The craggy toothed mountains in the background are known as Dents de Lanfon which translates as the Teeth of Lanfon.

Numerous boats on Lake Annecy. The last 20 km of my cycle today took me alongside the Lac Annecy. The lake is stunning and there were hundreds of boats tied up along it’s length. There is no major river which flows into or out of Lake Annecy so the only way of getting a boat to the lake is to transport it on a trailer. That is why while there were hundreds of boats on the lake most of them were relatively small in size.

Sign for the old town of Annecy. There are actually 2 old towns in Annecy. The medieval town centre, known as Le Vieil Annecy and the ruins of the Roman settlement, which is known as Annecy-le-Vieux and which is located about 3 km north-east of the medieval city centre. The population of Annecy is around 200,000 which would be similar to the city of Cork in Ireland. But about 3/4 of the population live in the suburbs to the north of Annecy and only about 50,000 people live near the city centre.

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Mini Transit yacht in Annecy harbour. This is a Transat 650 yacht which in 2015 took part in the Mini Transat race across the Atlantic between France and Brazil. The Mini Transat race was first held in 1977 and is held every 2 years so the next one will be in 2017. Yachting is big in France and races are often shown live on French TV. It is an expensive sport and even a small yacht such as the Transat 650, so called as it is 6.5m long, can cost over  €200,000 to buy new.

Cathedrale de la Visitation.  Although it looks much older, this cathedral in Annecy is less than 100 years old. Construction of the Basilique de la Visitation started in 1909 and wasn’t finished until 1930. Unlike most French cathedrals, it is not located in the town centre but instead was built on a hill overlooking Annecy. In 1986, a bell called Karol weighing 160 kg was added to the belfry to commemorate a visit to the Cathedral by Pope John Paul II.

Camping Le Belvedere in Annecy. It was around about 5 o’clock when I made it to the Le Belvedere campsite in Annecy. The campsite is located about 1 km up the climb of the Semnoz, which has only featured in the Tour de France once in 2013 and the stage there was famously won by Nairo Quintana. I had put on my replica Movistar top that morning as I was hoping to climb the Semnoz in the evening but my late arrival at Camping Belvedere made me re-think my plan.

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Sign for the Ireland – France Euro 2016 game on the Le Belvedere campsite cafe. The campsite obviously had showed the France – Ireland game here the previous Sunday. Portugal were due to play Poland that evening but there was no writing or sign up for that game. While waiting at the reception, I got talking to an American who had climbed the Semnoz. He said it was harder than the Stelvio though not as tough as the Mortirolo climb in Italy. To hear someone say the Semnoz is tougher than the Stelvio put more doubts in my mind as I have done the Stelvio climb on my Tacx trainer many times and it is brutal. I was worried about security as well as the campsite was very busy  and climbing the Semnoz would mean leaving my laptop and other valuables behind in the tent. With 800 km still to cycle to Paris, I decided the priority was to get some rest that evening and maybe tackle the Semnoz in a fortnight’s time when we returned to Annecy with a hire car. In fact, instead of climbing Semnoz or watching Portugal play Poland, I ended up spending the evening reading about Brexit and its aftermath as it had been exactly a week since the referendum.

Brexit and its aftermath. The campsite had been very busy and there was a queue at the reception so I had to wait about 10 minutes before paying for the night. While waiting, I couldn’t help but overhear an Ipad which one of the campsite residents was playing while seated at a desk outside the reception. The Ipad was playing a speech that Boris Johnson had given that morning about pulling out of the Tory leadership contest. Having not heard hardly any English for the last 3 weeks, it was quite a shock to hear not just what Boris was saying but even to hear English being spoken. Boris had been favorite to take over from David Cameron as Prime Minister so to hear him say he wouldn’t even stand in the leadership contest despite leading the Leave campaign was just incredible. Indeed, it was not just me who was shocked as the British couple watching the Ipad looked stunned as well and their reaction reminded me a little bit like the time Princess Diana died many years ago. They probably had been in France all week and were still trying to come to terms with Brexit and its aftermath. The country they would be returning to after their holiday would not be the same country they had left behind just a few days previously.

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English newspapers after Brexit. Obviously, Brexit had caused all sorts of turmoil back in Britain but until, I arrived in Annecy, I had been mostly oblivious to it. It had been exactly a week since the Brexit referendum and in that time,  David Cameron had resigned, the pound had slumped 15% and over $2 trillion had been wiped off the world’s stockmarkets. But all week, I hadn’t seen the news or had time to read much about it but listening to Boris Johnson’s speech really hit home just how much turmoil Brexit was causing.

Regional variation in Brexit result. By waiting a week to research the Brexit referendum, it meant I could take advantage of some excellent analysis that was published in the aftermath of the vote. The issue obviously resonated with a lot of people and there had been a huge turnout of over 72% compared to only 41% in the 2011 referendum on changing the voting system. A lot of the press focused on how older people voted 60:40 to Leave while younger people voted 75:25 to Remain. The vote obviously split mostly along political party lines in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The SNP in Scotland are by far the most pro Europe party in Britain and the vote in Scotland (62% for Remain) reflected that. The same in Northern Ireland as most Republican areas voted Remain while some Unionist areas voted Leave in line with the Democratic Unionist party stance. In England however, the vote did not reflect a party’s position. For example, one third of Labour voters voted for Leave eventhough the party overwhelmingly campaigned for Remain. Indeed, the most startling piece of analysis to explain how England voted I found in a Bloomberg View article by Matt Singh. He compared the turnout in the EU referendum (72%) to that in the UK General Election in 2015 (66%) and worked out this resulted in an extra 2.8 million voters most of whom came out to vote in England. What is really incredible is that Matt concluded from the data that nearly all of these 2.8 million extra voters voted to Leave.  It was these 2.8 million extra voters, some of whom hadn’t voted in a general election since the Eighties, who decisively swung the referendum towards Leave. The high turnout which most analysts expected to favour Remain actually had a completely opposite effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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