Left Evian this morning and travelled eastwards around the lake to the border with Switzerland. Expected to have to show our passports or something as Switzerland is not part of the European Union (apparently), but just got waved through by the customs man. Switzerland has it's own currency (Swiss Francs) so one of our first jobs was to find a money machine so that we could get out some of the local currency.
The other oddity about Switzerland is that rather than charge a toll on the autoroute like France, they have a “vignette” system, where you buy a sticker for your windscreen that allows you to drive on the autoroute. The sticker costs 40 swiss francs, about NZ$60, so Dave decided we'd avoid the autoroutes and just use the little roads instead...hmmmm.
So we wound our way around the lake to Montreux where we found the money machine, once all cashed up we did our best to get out of town without using the autoroute – harder than it seemed! We did manage after a few false turns. Ended up winding up the hill above the town through vineyards perched on the side of the hill – very pictuesque!
We found ourselves in pastoral land, lots of dairy farms, and crops of various sorts: wheat, maize, tabacco and the odd apple orchard. Very attractive scenery with small villages every few kilometres.
Farming enterprises seem very small scale compared to what we're used to. Photo shows one farmer bringing in his milking herd of 9 cows! Imagine that took a few minutes to milk!
The farm buildings are interesting. Often the house, barn and milking shed are all one structure. The cows are wintered over in the barn and of course there has to be a way to clean out the sheds. They use what looks to us like a modified bale elevator. This creates a large pile of stinky straw – we think this gets spread around on the farm but have yet to see that.
I think we've mentioned before that farms completely lack what we'd call fences and just seem to put up electric fences where needed. They also lack troughs and these trailers that carry water and have a small drinking bowl at the back seem to be the mode.
We travelled north to the Lac de Neuchatel where we found a yatch club to eat lunch. Dave dabbled his feet in the lake and announced that it was cold – hardly surprising really! Lots of water birds swimming around – many that we didn't recognise. Didn't have the big lens on the camera so only captured some swans.
Carried on north after lunch through squillions of little villages, and finally ran out of small roads and ended up on the autoroute (without our vignette!!!) for 13km! Managed to get away with it avoiding the 100 franc fine!
A few hours later having freaked out at the commencement of German road signs everywhere we scooted back into the Alsace region of France. Despite being in France it is still very strongly Germanic, was part of Germany before WW2. The housing style in Alsace is very different, while most of the regions of France that we have travelled through have stone buildings (except the Alpes where it's wood), Alsace has the wood and plaster combination. Very pretty villages with pastel coloured houses with steep roofs.
We searched through a number of small villages before finally finding a small hotel in the village of Bettendorf. Had a nice dinner – I enjoyed couple of well deserved glasses of lovely Gerwerstraminer....mmm...my favourite! No wifi and mostly German television! But well priced. [So this is another McDonald's special the next day!]