Day 1: Arrive Le Puy-en-Velay
This ancient medieval town, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is dominated by three “puys” (steep volcanic plugs) crowned by the massive statue of Mary, the ancient Cathedral and St Michel’s chapel. Almost unchanged in a 1,000 years, medieval houses and steep-streets nestling below the volcanic rock are bustling with shops, traditional lace making, little restaurants and café terraces.
Overnight: Hotel Regina, Le Puy-en-Velay
Hotel Regina has 25 bright and spacious rooms, all individually decorated with modern furnishings. It is also wonderfully located in the old part of town.
Day 2: Transfer to St Martin de Fugères and walk to Le Bouchet-St-Nicolas
Your Stevenson’s adventure begins with a short transfer (30 mins) to the trail head at St-Martin-de-Fugéres. Cross the gorge of the Loire at Goudet (ideal spot for picnic lunch) to reach the high volcanic plateau. Pass several small hamlets set amidst a patchwork of black volcanic soil and the green fields of Puy lentils to the isolated hamlet of Le Bouchet Saint Nicolas.
Walking: 15 km, ascent/descent: 460m/175m
Dinner & Overnight: Gites La Retirade, Le Bouchet-St-Nicolas
Tonight’s modest auberge, owned by the local farming Villeseche family, is a rendezvous for walkers and locals alike. Local style dinner and breakfast included.
Day 3: Walk to Pradelle/Langogne
Today walk via Arquejol & the railway viaduct, crossing a deep ravine and following a high plateau ridge to the market town of Landos. Detouring briefly, you can reach Rocher de la Fagette with distant views to rounded volcanic mountaintops. Arrive in Pradelle before checking into your hotel or descend to the larger market town of Langogne (depending on availability)
Walking: 21 or 27km, ascent/descent: 315/575m
Dinner & Overnight: Hotel de la Poste, Langogne
A friendly relaxed atmosphere awaits you at this former post station.
Day 4: Walk to Cheylard l’Evèque
Today you will be on undulating terrain through forests and small streams, crossing ancient humpback bridges as you discover the remote Gévaudan countryside. Pass the village of Saint-Flour-de-Mercoire and the Mercoire forest to Sagne-Rousse, where Stevenson got hopelessly lost! An ancient sunken track then descends to the remote hamlet of Cheylard L’Evèque.
Walking: 22 or 16 km, ascent/descent: 320/150m
Dinner & Overnight: Le Refuge du Moure, Cheylard l’Evèque
This charming local auberge serves a regional dinner served at long tables bustling with fellow walkers from around the world.
Day 5: Walk to La Bastide Puylaurent
Today, some fine valley walking awaits. Hike through rolling hills and forests by Les Pradels . Breath-taking views of the distant blue Cévennes Mountains are revealed before joining the medieval route to Luc. Descend along a rough mule track into the Allier valley and the Ardèche department at Laveyrune. Arrive into the hamlet of Bastide Puylaurent.
Walking: 23 km, ascent/descent: 240/380m
Dinner & Overnight: La Grande ‘Halte, La Bastide Puylaurent
Stephanie and David will welcome you to their hotel located in the centre of La Bastide. It is a modest property and here dinner is included.
Day 6: Walk to Chasserades
Ascend to La Mourade at 1308m and enjoy fine high country walking and stunning panoramic views south to the Cévennes mountains. Continue through the majestic Forest Domaniale de la Gardille to Chabalier before arriving at the historic hamlet of Chasserades.
Walking: 12 km, ascent/descent: 330/160m
Dinner & Overnight: Hotel des Sources, Chasserades
Eric will welcome you to this friendly hotel as you complete the day’s walk. The rooms are simple but have modern amenities.
Day 7: Walk to Le Bleymard
From Chasserades the trail goes through the tiny village of Mirandol with its distinctive “lauzes” roof tiles and massif 30m viaduct. The forest-covered Goulet Massif is the first major climb on the trail, but you will be rewarded by the breath-taking panorama. Lying at 1413m, the town of Le Bleymard is considered the gateway to the Cevennes National Park and lies below the drove road, “La Drailles des Mulets”. It is a steep decent, following the Lot River into the town.
Walking: 16 km, ascent/descent: 310/310m
Dinner & Overnight: Hotel La Remise, Le Bleymard
This property has 20 spacious bedrooms, a shady terrace, which you can relax on after your day’s walk and great food!
Day 8: Walk to Finiels
An exciting day of walking awaits. Ancient standing stones, or Montjoies, mark the route today as the awe-inspiring panorama of the Cevennes opens up below. Ascend to the Pic de Finiels; at 1699m, it is not only the highest peak of the trail but of the whole Cévennes. Descend the rough steep track through the photogenic scattered boulders to arrive in the tiny hamlet of Finiels.
Walking: 14km, ascent/descent: 630/825m
Dinner & Overnight: Maison Victoire, Finiels
This convivial and delightful B&B has 5 lovely rooms and you will be warmly welcomed by your host, Jacqueline. (If you are more than 4 in your party you may stay in Le Pont de Montvert tonight which is further along the trail.)
Day 9: Walk to Cocurés/Florac
Begin today’s walk with a transfer to the start of the trail in Le Pont de Montvert (10 mins). Walking doesn’t come much better than this as you head off into the heart of the Cévennes. This is the longest hiking day of the whole tour, with energetic ascents and descents, but rewards all day long with spectacular views.
Walking: 27/23km, ascent/descent: 545/875m
Dinner & Overnight: Les Tables de la Fontaine, Florac
Veronique and Denis’s historic B&B, Les Tables de la Fontaine is situated in the heart of the quaint shabby chique old quarter of Florac. (Occasionally you head off the trail a few km earlier and head for the Hotel La Lozerette in Cocures for the night )
Day 10: Walk to Cassignas/Cauvel
Today is relatively short, so take some time in the morning to explore the picturesque streets of Florac before continuing on your adventure. The first part of the day is a challenging walk over hills and along balcony paths among the red-rock scenery of the Mimenti Valley. By contrast, the second half of the day is easier. Wander through enchanting countryside following the gorge along the disused railway track to hamlet of Cassagnas. You may be staying here, or a few kilometres down the trail, in the village of Cauvel (depending on availability)
Walking: 20 or 23km, ascent/descent: 545/875m
Dinner & Overnight: Le Mimentois, Cassagnas
This delightful accommodation offers beautiful and tranquil scenes from its garden. (There is also accommodation in Cauvel which is 5km further down the trail—there is the possibility you will stay here)
Day 11: Walk to St-Etienne-Valley-Française
Follow the trail through the forested Camisards country among chestnut trees as the route circles below the watershed of Mount Mars. An easy climb to La Plan de Fontmort occurs before joining various other forested GR trails to arrive at the Col de la Pierre Plantee (891m) and the last of our mysterious standing stones. Next join an ancient track following the chestnut groves to the valley and St -Etienne-Valley-Française.
Walking: 21 or 16 km, ascent/descent: 320/710m
Dinner & Overnight: La Dinierola, St-Etienne-Valley-Française
Tonight you will stay with the charming Madame Thomas at her B&B in this typical village with dinner arranged at the local bistro.
Day 12: Walk to St-Jean-du-Gard
Your final day of walking starts with a long climb up to Col de Saint-Pierre at 597m, followed by a short detour to the summit of Saint-Pierre which is rewarded by a breath-taking 360 degree panorama of the Cévennes Mountains. Continue on downhill to the pretty hamlet of Pied de Cote to join the Gardon river walk and over the ancient bridge into the main town of St-Jean-du-Gard.Tonight, toast the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail and your amazing travels with a glass or two and maybe a delightful dinner in a local restaurant.
Walking: 12 km, ascent/descent: 350/410m
Overnight: Les Bellugues, St-Jean-du-Gard
This historic hotel is set amidst the bustle of this Mediterranean-influenced town where Stevenson caught the stagecoach. Enjoy relaxing by the swimming pool.
Day 13: Onward Travel
Say “Au Revoir” to Stevenson’s Trail and make your way home via Le Puy, Nimes, Lyon or Paris.
Your 13 day self-guided walking tour includes 12 nights in hand-picked accommodations chosen for their comfort, location and real authenticity. All of the auberges, B&Bs and small hotels are owner-operated and offer a genuinely warm welcome. It is worth remembering that in this lost corner of France time has stood still which gives a simple charm.
During the high season, you might be booked into alternative accommodations which are not listed in the description. Any alternative accommodation will be of the same or better standard as those described.
As the overnight stops on the Stevenson’s Trail are often small it may be necessary to place you in alternate accommodation in a different location, which may involve slightly less or more walking on some days.
Single Rooms & Solo Walkers
Single rooms are available but attract a supplement. This is a great tour for solo walkers. If you are travelling solo the tour 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 tour includes continental breakfast each morning with tea, coffee or hot chocolate, home made jams, local breads and either yogurt, cheese, fruit or ham depending on local availability.
Dinner is included on 10 nights. All your hosts will prepare a packed lunch if you let them know a couple of days in advance for 7-10€ approx. pp. or you can pick up a crusty baguette, some fantastic local cheese, sweet ripe fruit and picnic en route.
Be sure to depart in the morning with a full water bottle as there may not be suitable refill points throughout the walks.
Time of Year
This tour is available to start on any day between mid-April to the end of September. 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 bustling.
Single Rooms & Solo Walkers
Single rooms are available but attract a supplement. This trip is available for solo walkers who are comfortable navigating alone. If you are travelling solo the tour is slightly more expensive as some costs are not shared.
Grade & Terrain
This tour is rated moderate to strenuous because some of the daily walks are relatively long over rough tracks and the terrain is very hilly in some parts. You will need to be in good physical condition to complete the walks on this itinerary. The trails follow ancient footpaths, sheep tracks and drove roads over basalt, granite, schist and limestone and in some sections the rocks can be loose underfoot. You will therefore need to be surefooted. Where possible the route avoids paved roads.
Navigation, Route Notes & Maps
You will be following the GR70, (GR= Grande Randonnée or main walking routes) which is clearly way marked with the famous red and white stripes, whether on a passing tree, rock, or post. We supply a detailed guidebook (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.
Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation onto your next overnight stop. The weight of your bags is restricted to 13kg per bag, this is due to health and safety regulations of the bag transfer company, and also takes into account the many fragile bridges that they need to cross which have weight limits. As we realise that 13kg is not a lot of baggage allowance, we have built an additional bag into the tour cost. So if you are two people travelling, your allowance is 3x 13kg bags. If you are a solo traveller, your allowance is 2x 13kg bags. Please make sure they are clearly marked with your name and next nights accommodation.
The delicious French food and wine available locally is undoubtedly a highlight of this holiday. The price of your tour includes continental breakfast each morning with tea, coffee or hot chocolate, home made jams, local breads and either yogurt, cheese, fruit or ham depending on local availability. Dinner is included on 10 nights. All your hosts will prepare a packed lunch if you let them know a couple of days in advance for 7-10€ approx. pp. or you can pick up a crusty baguette, some fantastic local cheese, sweet ripe fruit and picnic en route. Be sure to depart in the morning with a full water bottle.
It is a condition of booking with us that you have suitable travel insurance that covers you for cancellation, curtailment, illness or injury.
The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sunhat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a daypack.
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 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. We will always try and accommodate your plans so just ask.
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.
How do the baggage transfers work?
Your bags will be transferred between accommodations as per your itinerary. You just need to ask your host where to leave your bag in the morning and it will be picked up soon after 8am. We ask that you limit your bags to one per person of a maximum of 13kgs.
What personal equipment do I need?
After booking we will send you a detailed per departure information pack which includes a kit list of standard walking gear such as good walking shoes/boots, comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc.
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! Late April, May and June are absolutely lovely and the wild flowers are at their best. September is special as the landscape takes on its 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.
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!
What happens if I can't walk a stage?
You can pre-book transfers with the baggage transfer company. You can also use public transport or local taxis to shorten all of the walks.