DAY1: ARRIVE LE PUY-EN-VELAY
The ancient medieval town, now a UNESCO
World Heritage site, is dominated by 3
‘Puys’ (steep volcanic plugs) crowned by the
massive statue of Mary, the ancient Cathedral
and St Michel’s chapel. Almost unchanged in a
1000 years the medieval houses, alleys and
steep-streets nestling below are bustling with
shops traditional lace making, little restaurants
and café terraces.
Overnight: As you’ll stay privately with one of
our hostesses in their own historic home you’ll
have a unique chance to soak up the
atmosphere and discover the town floodlit at
night. Or maybe take the gourmet dinner option
at Du Parc.
DAY 2: LE MONASTIER-SURGAZEILLE TO LE BOUCHET-STNICOLAS
14 mls / 23km. 6hr15. +460 m, -175 m.
transfer from Le Puy to Monastier)
Where RLS had to jettison the egg whisk and a
leg of mutton.
Your adventure in Stevenson’s footsteps begins!
Descend to cross the Gazeille River before
climbing to Courmarcés and St-Martin-deFugéres by ancient lanes and byways. Cross the
gorge of the Loire at Goudet (ideal spot for picnic
lunch) to reach the high volcanic plateau. On
passed several small hamlets set amidst a
patchwork of black volcanic soil and green fields
of Puy lentils to the isolated hamlet of Le
Bouchet Saint Nicolas.
Overnight: Tonight’s modest auberge, owned by
the local farming Villeseche family, is a
rendezvous for walkers and locals alike or
sometimes we stay in one of the little village
houses. Local style dinner and breakfast
DAY 3: LE BOUCHET-ST-NICOLAS
17 mls / 27km. 6.45hrs. +315 m. -575 m.
When RLS got a goad and things start to go
Today the high plateau ridge to the market town
of Landos is followed by super walking via
Arquejol & the railway viaduct, crossing a deep
ravine. Detouring briefly, you can reach Rocher
de la Fagette (1265) with distant views to
rounded volcanic mountain tops, Naussac
reservoir and nearby historic Pradelles, follow.
We recommend a stop in at Stephanie’s café on the
square in the austerely beautiful Pradelle before
descending to the larger market town of
Langogne. (pop 3282)
Overnight: Despite the main road it remains a
backwater reminiscent of a bygone era. We
usually stay in the somewhat faded grandeur of
the old coaching Hotel, or take a taxi the short
drive to the holiday village, stunningly located on
the lake. Dinner is included in both.
DAY 4: LANGOGNE TO CHEYLARD
10 mls / 16km. 4.10hrs. +320 m, -150 m
When RLS became hopelessly lost thanks to two
villages with confusingly similar names.
Undulating walking by dark forests and small
streams crossed by ancient humpback bridges
as you discover the remote Gévaudan
countryside. Passing Saint-Flour-de-Mercoire
(1049m) and the Cathedral-like Mercoire forest to
Sagne-Rousse, where RLS got hopelessly lost.
Later, an ancient sunken track descends to the
remote hamlet of Cheylard L’Eveque.
Overnight: In the charming local Auberge with
typical regional dinner served at long tables
bustling with fellow walkers from around the
world and a hearty breakfast
DAY 5: CHEYLARD L’ÉVEQUE TO
12 mls / 18.5 km. 5hrs45. +240 m, -380 m
(14.5mls / 23.5 kms 7hrs for Monastery)
Where RLS met Father Apollinaris and overcame
Fine valley walking today through rolling hills and
forests by Les Pradels to breathtaking views of
the distant Blue Cévennes Mountains. Joining
the medieval route to Luc before descending by
rough mule track into the Allier valley and the
Ardeche department at Laveyrune. An hour
further on and the route divides for the
Monastery or the small village of La Bastide.
Overnight: You may choose to stay at either
place. We usually stay with Florence and Pascal
at their Hotel in the centre of La Bastide, which is
modest, simple and welcoming with dinner
However one of the highlights of this trail is the
Trappist Monastery of Notre Dame des Neige,
where RLS spent a night, attended church
services, enjoying the company of the monks
after overcoming his initial terror of the place!
Today they have a small number of monastic
style rooms available with dinner and are famous
for their wine called Fleur des Neige. We always
leave with a pot of their delicious honey.
DAY 6: LA BASTIDE-PUYLAURENT
TO LE BLEYMARD
17mls / 26.1km. 7.5hrs or 17 mls / 28klm. 8hrs
+300M – 160M
Where RLS gets a bed to himself.
This is the longest and highest walking day of the
trail so far. First by La Mourade, (1308m), fine
high country walking and stunning panoramic
views south to the Cévennes mountains. Then
through the majestic Forest Domaniale de la
Gardille to Chabalier, the historic hamlet of
Chasserades, and tiny Mirandol with its
distinctive ‘Lauzes’ roof tiles and massif 30m
The forest-covered Goulet Massif is the first
major climb on the trail and more than rewarded
by the breathtaking panorama. (1413m) La
Bleymard, gateway to the Cevennes National
Park, lies below via the drove road, ‘La Drailles
des Mulets’ and a steep decent by the source of
the Lot River to La Bleymard. (pop 389)
Overnight: You either stay with Tiny at her
delightful chalet home before the decent into the
village or maybe with Claude and Jean-Francois
is the heart of the village at their busy, simple
hotel. Dinner included.
Possible to divide today’s walk with stop over at
Chasserades (1150m) 7.5 mls /12 kms, approx.
3.5 hrs, +330 m, -160 m.
Then Chasserades to Bleymard 8.5 mls /14 kms,
approx 4.5 hrs
DAY 7: LE BLEYMARD TO LE PONTDE-MONTVERT
12mls / 19km. 6hrs. +630 m, -824 m.
Where RLS spent the night under the stars
The old drove road climbs steeply through pine
forests by the Col Santel (1200) before emerging
at the Mont Lozère Chalet, ski station. The
barren Finiels summit, over 5000ft. (1699m), the
highest point in the Cevennes and the trail, lies
ahead. Ancient standing stones, or Montjoies,
mark the route as the awe-inspiring panorama of
the Cevennes as Stevenson’s ‘Cevennes de
Cevennes’, opens up below.
rough steep track through the photogenic
scattered boulders, or chaos, to the lively
mountain village of Pont-de-Montvert (pop 302)
and its renowned humpback bridge over the High
C. Camisard’s war that broke-out here
so fascinated RLS that, by following in their
footsteps, he became for many, the ‘Father’ of
Overnight: Sometimes we can’t resist stopping 3
km before to stay in the delightful mountain
hamlet of Finiels at Jacqueline B&B with her
lovely dinners or we can sometimes enjoy theuse of the barbecue terrace at Jean-Marc’s
spacious mini ‘maison’ just over the bridge in
Montvert where dinner is not included.
DAY 8: LE PONT-DE-MONTVERT TO
17.5 mls /28km 8hrs +545 m, - 875 m. (option to
shave 4 kms off this day)
Where RLS had lunch with 3 women and flirted
with the waitress!
Walking doesn’t come much better than this as
we head into the heart of the Cévennes and the
capital, Florac. This, the longest hiking day, with
energetic ascents and descents, rewards us with
daylong spectacular views. By the Bouges Ridge
and summit (1421m), & Col du Sapet (1080m),
with its mysterious standing stones before
dropping down to Bedoués (560m) and Florac
(pop1998). Here the confluence of 3 rivers, which
cascade merrily through the crumbling old
historic quarter, give a feel of Venice. (If the day
is too long you can shave 4klms off its end by the
Overnight: In the local hotel, renowned for it’s
great food or at Veronique and Denis’s historic
B&B, with restaurant below, in the heart of the
quaint old quarter.
DAY 9: FLORAC TO CASSAGNAS
11 mls / 17.4km. 5hrs. +200m, -50m.
Where Stevenson had lunch in the company of a
gendarme and a merchant
With spectacular scenery all day the first part is a
challenging walk by hills and balcony paths
among the red-rock scenery of the Mimenti valley
up to by Saint-Julien-D’Arpaon. By contrast the
enchanting countryside following the gorge along
the disused railway track to Cassagnas, makes
for a delightful stroll.
Overnight: We’re spoilt for choice here,
sometimes heading to Isabelle’s Gipsy Caravans
or drinking in the scenery from the tranquil
garden at Stephanie’s B&B. However our
favourite is to carry on to Le Chateau du Cauvel,
either by walking the extra 8 km or having
hopped a lift part route with the bags in the
DAY 10: CASSAGNAS TO ST-
14mls /22.5km 4.45hrs. +320m, -710m.
Chestnuts! Forested Camisards country among
the Chestnut trees as the trail circles below the
watershed of Mount Mars (1162m) making the
easy climb to La Plan de Fontmort before we join
various other forested GR trails to arrive at the
Col de la Pierre Plantee (891m) and the last of
our mysterious standing stones. Descending
down to Le Serre de la Can and St -Germain-deCalberte before joining a pleasant ancient track
following the chestnut groves to the valley and St
Overnight: Either we stay at the fascinating goat
farm where they make amazing cheese or with
Madame Thomas at her B&B in this typical
village with dinner arranged in the local bistro.
DAY 11: ST-ÉTIENNE-VALLEYFRANÇAISE TO ST-JEAN-DU-GARD
8.5mls. / 12.5km 7.15hr. +350m, -410m.
A long climb up to Col de Saint-Pierre (597m)
and Signal de Saint-Pierre (695) is rewarded by
the breathtaking 360 panorama of the Cévennes
mountains. Downhill to the pretty hamlet of Piedde-Cote to join the Gardon river walk and by the
ancient bridge into the main town of St Jean du
Gard, where Stevenson sold his donkey
Overnight: Our historic hotel is where Stevenson
caught the stagecoach, set amidst the bustle of
this Mediterranean influenced town. Tonight we’ll
toast RLS and our amazing travels with a glass
or two and maybe a delightful dinner in the
DAY 12 ST JEAN DU GARD
After a light breakfast it’s ‘Au Revoir’ to
We specifically choose our accommodation for comfort, location and real authenticity. All are owner operated 2 & 3* star hotels / auberge/ B&B with ensuite rooms that offer a genuinely warm welcome.
We will always try and accommodate you at the locations detailed, but because of limited availability we may have to accommodate you at an alternative location of the same or better standard or for 2 nights in the same place. Alternative details will be noted on your accommodation sheet.
Single rooms are available but attract a supplement.
This is a great holiday for solo walkers. If you are travelling solo the holiday is slightly more expensive as some costs are not shared.
The delicious French food and wine available locally is undoubtedly a highlight of this holiday. The price of your holiday includes breakfast each morning. Dinner is included on 5 nights of the North Section, 4 nights of the South section and 8 nights of the entire walk. All your hosts will prepare a packed lunch if you let them know in advance. 7-10€ approx pp. or you can pick up a crusty baguette, some fantastic local cheese, sweet ripe fruit and picnic en route.
Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation onto your next overnight stop. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 15kg per person. Please make sure they are clearly marked with your name and next nights accommodation.
Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, waterproofs, comfortable walking clothes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.
This holiday is graded moderate to strenuous because some of the daily walks are relatively long over undulating terrain while in the later half the terrain is very hilly and summer temperatures can be high.
The walks follow ancient footpaths, sheep tracks and drove roads. Over Basalt, granite, schist and limestone. Where possible the route avoids made up roads and in some sections the rocks can be loose underfoot.
You will be following the GR70, (GR= Grande Randonnéeée or main walking routes) which is clearly Way marked with the famous red and white strips, whether on a passing tree, rock, or post. We supply very detailed route notes (you will need to be familiar with basic compass use to follow these in some places) and maps so navigation is generally easy. Heavy rains, winds and fog do sometimes affect sections of the trail, and in the winter higher ground is often snow covered.
IGN ( Institute Geographique National) is the French version of National Geographic. For planning the route there are 2 maps at 1:100,000 which cover the route, No 50 St Etienne – Le Puy which covers the route to Langogne and No 59, Privas – Alés covers Langogne to St Jean du Gard while the best maps to have during the walk are 1:25,000. There are 10 for the whole route, E=east. O= west.
2735E / 2736E / 2836O / 2737E / 2738E / 2738O / 2739OT / 2740ET
2740E / 2840O
We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful. Don't hesitate to contact one of our French specialists if you have any further queries.
How fit do I need to be?
This walking holiday is graded moderate to strenuous with some challenging days and involves between four and eight hours walking each day. Some of the paths are very steep so you should be in pretty good shape to get the most from this adventure.
Can I change the length of the walks?
Using public transport or local taxis can shorten all of the walks. Some days can be split in 2 depending on availability of accommodation. The walk can also be done in 2 parts North and South.
When is the best time of year?
Spring in Southern France is delightful but a late winter will mean snow on the highest points of the route and blustery gales! April, May and June are absolutely lovely and the wild flowers are at their best. September & October are special as the landscape takes on it’s autumnal pallet of reds and golds, you can gather chestnuts in the south and the panoramic views have lazy late summer feeling, while we can get some spectacular thunderstorms rolling over.
July and August can be very hot so you will have to start early to miss the heat of the day, although the towns are buzzing which is great.
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as this trail has very limited accommodation and baggage handlers. If you can start on a week day to avoid the peak week-end periods it’s much better but not essential You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans so just ask.
What personal equipment do I need?
You will need good walking shoes/boots, comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. You can download a full equipment list from the download page of our website.
Which is the best airport?
Lyon is convenient and well connected to Le Puy en Velay by frequent trains, inc the world famous TGV. Nimes is also a possibility but the transfer time is a little longer by train and then bus or private transfers.
Do I need to speak French?
Well you don’t need to but a Bonjour and a Merci will work wonders. We’ll give you a few useful phrases and words to help you along and if you get stuck an Ooh-La-La goes a long way!