Shortly after my hike in the Chartreuse, Olivier suggested a ‘randonnée cerises’ in the nearby Monts du Lyonnais. It’s fairly self-explanatory what this hike entailed, but I fancied sharing a few photos from it as I had a jolly good time. (Let’s face it, a hike that combines rolling hills and end-of-season fruit is pretty much the dream for me.)
I didn’t take the metro all that often when I was living in Lyon, so as per I allowed more time than necessary and arrived at Gorge de Loup with tons of time to spare. Luckily, there were plenty of benches to choose from and it wasn’t all that long before Olivier turned up. Carine, who had signed up via OVS, joined us shortly after, and we then hopped aboard the 2EX bus to St. Martin-en-Haut.
The journey through the foothills of the Monts du Lyonnais took all of fifty minutes, by which point I was only too happy to be back in the fresh air. One of the best bits about this hike was that the ascent was done by bus, so all we had to do was roll our cherry-filled selves down the hill to get back. (Well, there were a couple of small inclines, but it was mostly downhill.)
From St. Martin-en-Haut, we took a footpath which led us to the Camino de Santiago trail. Olivier was in charge of map-reading, so I’m not 100% sure of all the different paths we followed after that one, but that’s of little importance to anyone contemplating a similar hike in this area as there are cherry trees everywhere, so the essential component of this hike is easily found.
Gradually, the heat haze cleared and we could see across the valley towards the Massif du Pilat (where I hiked up to Crêt de la Perdrix and explored a chunk of the Tour du Parc). To the north, we could see the Monts d’Or and the Beaujolais region. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Alps, but sadly it wasn’t quite clear enough for that.
Every so often, we paused to munch some cherries that had been left behind after harvesting; inevitably, they can’t harvest them all as there’s a ton of fruit and few workers to pick it. We stumbled upon fields of apples, some of which had already fallen to the ground and were being devoured by birds and insects alike, and rows of Ribena-ready blackcurrants. I even sampled some ‘cerises sauvages’ (wild cherries), which were tangier and smaller than commercially produced cherries, but still ever so tasty!
Along the way, we passed some more sections of the Aqueduc du Gier, which once transported water all the way down the valley to Fourvière. It was one of four aqueducts which supplied Lyon with water, and part of the second largest network of Roman aqueducts after Rome. Having seen some of the earlier sections of the aqueduct around Saint Chamond and Chagnon, it was interesting to see more of it towards the end of our hike.
After an afternoon spent largely in the full sun, it was a relief to arrive in Brignais just in time to catch the next train to Gare St. Paul in Lyon. My legs were certainly feeling every one of the twenty-five kilometres we’d covered, though I still managed the half hour walk home at the other end.
- TCL tickets cost €1.80 for the metro, and are valid for transfers made between metro lines, busses and trams within one hour. Thurins, a village which the 2EX bus passes through, is the outer limit of the TCL network, so you’ll need to pay a further €2 for the bus to St. Martin-en-Haut.
- While a lot of the cherries still left on the trees by late June will end up being left for the birds, do heed any signs which prohibit passers-by from helping themselves. If you choose to help yourself where there are no signs, be discreet about it and don’t be that person who brings all their Tupperware along to fill up.
- The Monts du Lyonnais are known for having a lot of ticks – a bugbear of any hiker. Take insect repellent with you, cover your skin as much as possible (easier said than done when it’s hot) and remember to check your skin afterwards for any of the little blighters. (You can find some tips on preventing tick bites and removing ticks here.)