Stevenson's Trail: The Cevennes 8 Day Guided Walk

Stevenson's Trail: The Cevennes 8 Day Guided Walk information and booking

from
$1260
  • Duration
    8 days
    Days
  • Group size
    5-15
    Persons
  • Difficulty
    moderate - challenging
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Schedule Details

Summary
  • 7 nights hotels

Highlights

  • French Country Walking in the Massif Central
  • Glorious Quiet Countryside, Meadows and Shaded Chestnut Forests.
  • Pretty Riverside Strolls and Walks Over Low Mountains

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

In the autumn of 1878, the Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and Kidnapped, set out from Le Monastier in the Auvergne to walk south across the Cevennes accompanied by "a small grey donkey called Modestine, the colour of a mouse with a kindly eye". It took this pleasing pair eleven days to complete the trip, and the book that Stevenson wrote about their journey, Travels with a donkey in the Cevennes was his first successful book and one, which has since become a travel classic.Stevenson should have put the Cevennes "on the map", but despite his account of his travels through this region, it remains little known. His book did however inspire the establishment of the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail ('Trace Historique de Stevenson” on French maps) in 1978, the centenary year of the original walk. The local people encouraged by a Scotswoman, Madame Pat Villette, decided to retrace and waymark the trail. The route was partially waymarked by blue and white markers carrying the St. Andrews Cross of Scotland. More recently the Stevenson's Trail has been designated as GR70 and waymarked with the usual white over red GR marks. The walk starts near Le Puy en Velay in the Auvergne, a hilly region of extinct volcanoes in the north of the Massif Central and follows a winding route southwards across the Cevennes, a more mountainous area on the eastern flank of the Massif Central. The Cevennes National Park covers 3,284 sq kms, of which 914 sq kms in the central zone are protected. The headquarters of the park are at Florac and it is the only generally inhabited French National Park. The region that Stevenson chose for his journey boasts great natural beauty and is almost totally unspoilt. Depopulation as drastic as that in Stevenson's native Scotland has left a region full of sad romantic ruins. The walk itself is not difficult; the hills are not particularly high. However, the trail does cross two significant mountains: Mont du Goulet (1,497m) and Mont Lozere (1,699m); for the most part we are able to follow quite closely the route taken by Stevenson over a century ago. It is not known the exact route that he went on all the days however and some parts that he did walk on have become road, so the GR trail heads off on different cross country routes.

What's included

  • 7 breakfasts, 7 dinners
  • 7 nights accommodation in country hotels on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities where available
  • Luggage transfer
  • Experienced guide
  • Emergency hotline

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Le Puy
Clients fly to Lyon or Paris and transfer to Le Puy where our hotel is 5 minutes walk from the station. Accommodation: Le Puy - rather than spend the first night at Le Monastier which has only limited accommodation and in any case makes the journey from UK on day 1 quite long and tiring we have chosen a very pleasant and comfortable two star hotel, only a few minutes walk from the train station in the historic city of Le Puy, capital of the Haute Loire department and readily accessible by train from Lyon or Paris.
Day 2 Le Puy to Arlempdes
Taxi transfer (included) from Le Puy to Le Monastier where the Stevenson trail starts. We walk on via the village of St. Martin de Fugeres to Goudet where we cross the River Loire. It is an hour or so's walk upstream to Arlempdes. 9 miles 14km. Accommodation: Arlempdes - after a road transfer to Le Monastier to start the trek we walk on to Arlempdes where we stay at a welcoming 1 star hotel in this tiny village overlooking the upper Loire valley. The hotel is a traditional logis with a homely stove and wood-beamed restaurant.
Day 3 Arlempdes to Pradelles
There are two alternative itineraries for today. The longer alternative follows the GR70 Stevenson's Trail all the way for 34km (21miles). We walk through Montagnac, Ussel, Le Bouchet St Nicholas, Landos and Arquejol to Pradelles. The shorter alternative 22km (14 miles) goes more directly via La Sauvetat to rejoin the GR70 at Landos and followes it to Pradelles. Accommodation: Pradelles - in the midst of the mediaeval splendour of the town, we stay at a centrally-situated 2 star hotel offering ensuite accommodation and of course a fully fledged regional menu boasting 'Specialites Auvergnates.'
Day 4 Pradelles to La Bastide Puy Laurent
Once again there are longer (GR70; 35km/22miles) and shorter (22km/14miles) alternatives. We walk to Langogne and cross the River Allier. A series of paths past mills and wayside cavalries brings us to the ruined village of Fuzilhac. Of this region Stevenson wrote, "Moor, heather marsh, tracts of rock and pines, woods of birch, green and stony cattle tracks wandered in and out...." Little has changed. Pass through the village of Cheylard and the Chabadoures ravine on to La Bastide Puy Laurent. The shorter alternative leaves the GR70 at Langogne and rejoins it just before Luc. Accommodation: La Bastide - A one star hotel with a restaurant, rooms have ensuite shower.
Day 5 La Bastide Puy Laurent to Le Bleymard
[Note if you want to add another rest day to the tour we suggest La Bastide, from which it is an easy day walk to the abbey of Notre Dame des Neiges, where Stevenson spent several nights]. We head south away from the river through woods and past dolmens to reach Chasserades. A walk over the Montagne du Goulet ridge brings us to Le Bleymard. (15 miles) 24 km. Accommodation: Le Bleymard - A high standard two star hotel (hotel de tourisme), traditionally appointed, with ensuite facilities and a fine pine beam and stone restaurant surrounding a large hearth.
Day 6 Le Bleymard to Le Pont de Montvert
22 km (14 miles). We head south along an old drovers road, over the Col de Finiels, past the Chalet du Mont Lozere. The col with its fine viewpoint over the Cevennes, makes a delightful lunch stop. There is an opportunity in clear weather to reach the Sommet de Finiels (5574 feet), the highest point in the Lozere range. We descend to Le Pont de Montvert. There are alternative routes from Sommet de Finiels to Le Pont de Montvert Accommodation: Le Pont de Montvert - A two star modern hotel, which sits on the riverbank of the Tarn, ensuite, with balconies and a restaurant again specializing in the regional fare.
Day 7 Le Pont de Montvert to Florac
(14 miles) 22 km. From Le Pont de Montvert we head south along the Martinet valley and ascend the ridge of the Montagne du Bouges. From here we continue along the crest of the two valleys of the Tarn and Mimente. At the end of the ridge we descend into Florac. You can discover the region's history and geology at the imaginative exhibition house in the old chateau. The quaint boulevards of the old town offer a tempting array of cafes. Accommodation: Florac - a rather grand 3 star hotel in the centre of this pretty market town, headquarters of the Cevennes national park.
Day 8 End of tour
Trip concludes in Florac after breakfast