At home with Stevenson
Walking trips in Europe do not come much better than the At home with Stevenson . This is your chance to walk one of France’s great trails whilst enjoying home comforts along the way. We have carefully selected some excellent chambres d’hotes, or guest houses, that will allow you to get to know the culture and peoples that live along the trail that traverses France’s isolated interior.
The best walking trips in Europe are those that have a strong theme, fine trails and a real sense of cultural immersion. This tour boasts all three – experience the delights of hiking across 156 miles / 220 kilometers of rich and varied terrain; retrace Robert Louis Stevenson’s footsteps on a trek that inspired his first novel, 'Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes' (1879); and share breakfast, an evening meal and an abundance of life experiences with your French hosts in their own homes. Rest assured: wherever there is a good guest house at the end of a day's walking, you stay in it - subject to availability!
Such cultural interchanges are obviously assisted by some mutual understanding of each other's language, so we suggest you brush up a little on your conversational French before you leave home; and making the effort to build bridges and share a convivial moment with the other guests around the dinner table is always richly rewarded. Bad grammar won't get in the way!
Chambres d’hotes are not a cheap option as good service and greater comfort obviously comes at a price – yet we believe it’s a price worth paying for the extra authenticity it gives to the overall walking experience. You start off with a nice 2-star hotel in Le Puy, just to get you acclimatized, and we sprinkle a few more throughout so as to balance your total French immersion with some extra privacy. However, the hallmark of At home with Stevenson is centred very much around the ‘guest-house experience.’
Tour SummaryArrival day in Le Puy en Velay.
Enjoy a ramble around this fine town, which merits a day in itself (2-star, centrally-located hotel, less than 5 minutes from the railway station)
Day 1: Le Monastier to Le Bouchet St Nicolas.
13 miles-21 kms, approx. 6.5 hrs, +460 ms -175 ms.
Day 2: Le Bouchet St Nicolas to Langogne and Lake Naussac.
17.25 miles-27.5 kms, approx. 7.5 hrs, +315 ms -575 ms. (option to shave 3.5 kms off this day)
Day 3: Langogne to Cheylard l’Eveque.
11 miles-18 kms, approx. 5.5 hrs, +320 ms -150 ms
Day 4: Cheylard L'Eveque to La Bastide Puylaurent.
12 miles-18 kms, 240 m altitude gain, 380 m descent. (2-star hotel)
Day 5: La Bastide to Chasseradès.
7.5 miles-12 kms, approx. 3.5 hrs, +330 ms – 160 ms.
Day 6: Chasseradès to Bleymard.
10.25 miles-16.5 kms, 5.5 hrs, +280 ms -390 ms.
Day 7: Le Bleymard to Pont de Montvert.
11 miles-18 kms, approx. 6.5 hrs, +630 ms -824 ms.
Day 8: Pont de Montvert to Florac.
17.5 miles-28 kms, 545 m altitude gain, 875 m descent. (option to shave 4 kms off this day)
Day 9: Florac to Cassagnas.
12 miles-18 kms, 200 m altitude gain, 50 m descent.
Day 10: Cassagnas to St Germain de Calberte.
9.5 miles-14 kms, 320 m altitude gain, 510 m descent.
Day 11: St Germain de Calberte to St Jean du Gard.
14 miles-21 kms, 350 m altitude gain, 900 m descent. (2-star hotel)
Homeward bound via Ales, and probably Nimes or Montpellier.
The traditional locals still resent the imposition of the name ‘Haute Loire,’ so show your solidarity by enjoying the Velay experience that comprises volcanic plateau and deeply incised canyon, the home of the Loire river.
The steep climb out of the valley takes you through some picturesque Velay villages on your way to Le Bouchet St Nicholas and its fine lake. After Landos, you walk by the magnificent Arquejol viaduct before climbing back to the plateau and enjoying the fine trail to Pradelles.
Ancient Lozere welcomes you onto the Regordane Way that leads to the fine ‘circulade’ of early Langogne. You walk over rolling uplands and through thick forest before descending to isolated Cheylard l'Evêque, where the welcome is highly rated.
Climb through the Gardille forest to its eponymous lake, before descending via an ancient drovers’ trail to the impressive ruins of Luc castle. Then follow the medieval Regordane due south across the Allier River to the historic resting place of La Bastide. Enjoy picturesque Chasseradès before admiring The Mirandol Viaduct, climbing through Goulet forest and following a fine trail alongside the embryonic Lot River.
The third natural region en route is a world unto itself, land of yellow broom, violet heather and black-blue myrtilles. Pic Finiels literally takes your breath away and the sharp descent gives way further down to the trail into Pont du Montvert that you won’t want to stop.
The climb to the col de Planette replicates the ‘best of Scotland’ and the Chemin des Cretes and its views of the rolling 'blue waves' of Cévennes hills makes for a sacré balade!
The ancient ‘bourg’ of Florac is well worth a tour. The Cévenols valleys are deep yet full of Mediterranean sunlight. Schiste paths lead you in and out of chestnut forests and down to refreshing streams before climbing once again to tree-covered summits.
The path that follows the old railway though tunnel and over viaduct along The Mimente Valley is great fun indeed. Louis XIV’s Royal Route up into and through Fontmort forest culminates in Saint-Pierre pass, where Modestine and Stevenson had their last meal together. Then its caps on the side of heads as you enjoy the final descent to the meandering Gardon River and your destination, Saint-Jean du Gard.
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