We didn’t do this in a straightforward manner. Today we took in two “ends of the lines”, starting our walk at one end of the 14 tram route (Meyrin Graviere) and we finished at CERN at one end of the 18 tram route. This walk wouldn’t take anyone going at a normal speed very long at all, as it is only a couple of miles. But as you’ve probably gathered, we don’t tend to do normal.
I’m sure that if you live in Meyrin, it is lovely. Lots of people live in Meyrin, in their thousands, so it can’t be all bad, right? Well, there are huge concrete blocks everywhere, from six to 15 storeys high. It feels densely populated, even though the blocks are quite well spaced and there’s lots of green space between the buildings. Lots of green space for playgrounds. Though they’re playgrounds of varying quality. Before we left Meyrin for the first time, we spent time in two of them, with great swings and climbing frames. We also visited the Commercial Centre, with at least one supermarket in it and several other shops.
To leave Meyrin and head for the woods, the main reason we had come to Meyrin at all, we carried on the road where the 14 tram left off, then turned left down Rue des Lattes. When there’s a crossing over the road, take it, seemingly into a hedge on the other side, then cut through and continue along towards the woods ahead of you to the right. These are the Marais des Crets. We spent a happy while here on the boardwalk that snakes through one end of the woods and marshes. There’s a slightly comical hide here, which is just a fence that isn’t even as tall as me, with some holes for looking out of. We saw five Teal from here, plus some Mallards but most of the action was along the boardwalk itself where we saw Nuthatches, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Marsh Tits, Chaffinches, Wrens, Robins and Blackbirds. We also saw a Great White Egret and a Grey Heron flying out of the woods. Oh, we also saw some mice!
It was a cold day today so we headed back into Meyrin after our stint in the woods, intending to head home. But after a long play in a sandpit and fortified by crisps and cheese and croissants, we decided to walk to CERN.
We cut off a bit of the walk, so didn’t go to the woods a second time, but linked up with the path out of the woods, then followed a path alongside some woods and the Swiss-French border, which was marked by border stones. We kept on the path until we reached Chemin de la Maille, which is recognisable by the site of an opening after woods on both sides, a couple of houses and some bee hives. Here we saw a Goldcrest and a Treecreeper, plus some Woodpeckers and Long-tailed Tits and a Common Buzzard. Keep on this road until you reach a crossroads with a farm to the left, Meyrin in the distance in front of you and CERN off to your right. Turn right, then right again just before the main road, to bring you up to CERN’s visitors’ car park and the 18 tram terminus.
We crossed over to CERN’s reception but you don’t really need to go there unless you want to visit the shop. The only permanent exhibition that’s open is in the dome next to the car park. It’s all IKEA eggshell chairs and interactive domes and tables. They’re not ideal for toddlers as they’re generally above their height. And as the guide in the venue said, you have to insist to the interactive buttons that you want them to do something by pressing forcefully. I didn’t know much about CERN before I went and I think I have learned more from chatting with a runner who works there than I got from the exhibition itself, but it was kind of fun. It reminded me of the sort of thing that gets put on from time to time in the Hayward Gallery on the Southbank in London. All laser lights and spinning numbers and so on.
Eventually Mtoto asked to leave, so we did, catching the 18 tram back into town.
Janathon exercise: about 3 miles of walking today.
2015 birds: the Marsh Tit was a new one. It took ages to see it while comparing the Marsh and Willow Tits in the bird book, but we eventually settled on the Marsh Tit on account of its shorter beard.