Self-Guided Walking Tours & Biking Tours


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The trail takes you through authentic small towns and villages
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Highlights

  • Follow in the footsteps of acclaimed writer, Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Explore the tranquil Cévennes National Park
  • Wander the ancient streets of the UNESCO protected town of Le Puy en Velay
  • Walk from village to village, immersing yourself in rural French life
  • Enjoy a picnic of crusty baguette, local fromage and full bodied vin rouge

In September 1878, the young Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, departed on an epic journey by foot through the départements of Haute-Loire, Ardèche, Lozère and Gard, finishing 12 days and 220km later in St Jean du Gard, deep in the heart of the Cévennes National Park.

His trek is immortalized in the classic, ‘Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes’, and you can now recreate his fascinating journey with considerably more certainty and comfort! Stay in locally selected guesthouses, eat the best of local cuisine and carry only a light day pack. In short, a classic walking tour that takes you both through literary history and delightfully unexplored regions of rural France.

This North section itinerary is perfect for those who don’t have time or the desire to walk the entire trail.

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: Onward Travel

Say “Au Revoir” to Stevenson’s Trail and make your way home via Le Puy, Nimes, Lyon or Paris.






 

Accommodation

Stay 6 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. You will be in private rooms with ensuite or private facilities. It is worth remembering that in this lost corner of France, it feels like time has stood still. Accommodations along the way are best described as rustic, yet comfortable and utterly charming.


Alternative accommodation

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 holiday for solo walkers. If you are travelling solo the tour is
slightly more expensive as some costs are not shared.


Meals

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 and 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 and 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.


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 and maps so navigation is generally easy. We recommend familiarizing yourself with a compass before departing. Heavy rains, winds and fog do sometimes affect sections of the trail, and in early/late season higher ground is often snow covered. 


Baggage Transfer

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.


Travel Insurance

It is a condition of booking with us that you have suitable travel insurance that covers you for cancellation, curtailment, illness or injury.


General Information

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.

Getting to Le Puy en Velay

Lyon Airport is the closest airport to Le Puy-en-Velay. From the airport there is a fast train link (30 mins) to the main train station Gare de Lyon Part-Dieu and from here you can take a TGV train to Le Puy via Saint-Etienne-Châteaucreux to downtown Le Puy, which takes around 2.5 hours. For more information on train times and schedules please visit the SNCF website.


It is also possible to reach Le Puy from Nimes, Clermont Ferrand and Montpellier.


Getting from Chasserades

If you wish to retrace your steps back to Le Puy from Chasserades it is possible to take a shuttle van (shared). The van leaves at 10.30 and 15.45 respectively and takes approximately 2 hours to Le Puy. Advance reservation for this shuttle van is essential and it is offered as an option on the Macs Adventure website, or you can speak with your Destination & Adventure Specialist.


It is also possible to arrange a private transfer from Chasserades to Le-Puy-en-Velay. Again this is offered as an option on the website, or you can ask your Destination & Adventure Specialist.


You can also catch a train from Chasserades to the nearby station of La Bastide St Laurent and from here take another train to Clermont Ferrand. You can also reach Nimes by train from Chasserades and if you wish to carry on to Lyon, you can change trains in Nimes.  Please check the SCNF website for further information on exact time trains and schedules

Included

  • 6 Nights in B&B’s, auberges and small hotels
  • 6 Breakfasts
  • 5 Dinners
  • Baggage transfers
  • A transfer as listed in the itinerary
  • Detailed guidebook, maps, and information pack
  • Organisational assistance and backup from our area manager in France and our office

Excluded

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to Le-Puy-en-Velay
  • Travel from Chasserades
  • Lunches and 1 dinner
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Personal equipment

Extras

  • Single Room Supplement
  • Solo Supplement
  • Extra Night(s)
  • Private transfer Chasserades to Le Puy

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 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.

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.

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.

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