|Dent d’Oche, 2221m|
There are two starting points for the French GR5. One is at St. Gingolph, a small town on Lake Geneva on the border between France at Switzerland. We decided against St. Gingolph as it is a very steep first day and unless you are in excellent condition, it could be a discouraging beginning. The other starting point is Thonon les Bains, a few kilometres to the west. That was our choice until we discovered that we could not find a place to stay on the first night. The gîte I had been trying to call turned out to have closed a few years ago and the only other one in the area was full. That would mean a very long walk the first day to carry on to the next town.
Time for a new plan. Now we will start from Evian les Bains, not far from Thonon, and walk up to Bernex on our first day, a town with lots of accommodation, then join up with the GR5. But since we will be in Bernex, we we’ve decided to make another detour and spend the next night at a small refuge near the top of la Dent d’Oche, the highest peak in the area. On a clear day there is a spectacular view of Lake Geneva, Mont Blanc and the surrounding countryside. On day three we will finally join the GR5. We won’t be able to say that we walked all of the GR5 (we will walk a bit farther this way) but we aren’t purists and will claim to have walked it anyway.
The new plan adds a day to the walk, makes the first three days a little easier than starting from Thonon, and, most important, we have booked places to sleep for the first four nights. In August, the busiest month on the GR5, that is important!
Yesterday I came across a blog by a hiker who did the walk using the same plan. He was in his 70’s when he did it and not well-prepared, but he finished. Lots of photos and quite entertaining.