Self-Guided Walking Tours & Biking Tours


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Trails through the heart of rural France
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Highlights

  • Follow in the footsteps of acclaimed writer, Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Explore the tranquil Cévennes National Park
  • Wandering the ancient historic quarter of Florac
  • 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 Southern section itinerary is perfect for those who do not have the time or desire to walk the complete route.

Day 1: Arrive in Chasserades

Arrive in Chasserades; a small sleepy hamlet on the Stevenson’s Trail. If you need any last minute supplies, be sure to pick them up on route in a larger town or city.


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 2: 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 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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: 20/23 km, 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 6: 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: 21/16 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 7: 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 8: Onward Travel


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

Accommodation

Stay 7 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, particularly in the small towns between Le Puy and St Jean du Gard. The 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 tour 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  6 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

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.


** Due to high demand it is not possible to travel between May 22nd -28th, 2017, as there is no availability and availability for May overall is difficult, if you are looking to travel in May please contact our team in the first instance**


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 excellent 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.


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.


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 6 nights. All your hosts will prepare a packed lunch if you et 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.


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 Chasserades

To get you Chasserades you can fly into Nimes Airport, Clermont Ferrand, or Lyon. There are various ways of getting to Chasserades!


It is possible to arrange a private transfer from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Chasserades. This can be arranged at whatever time you wish and this is offered as an option on the website, or you can ask your Destination & Adventure Specialist.


If you fly into either Nimes or Clermont Ferrand you can catch a train from the main train station in Nimes to the station of La Bastide St Laurent and from here take another train to Chasserades.


Please check the SCNF website for further information on exact time trains and schedules.   


Getting from St Jean-du-Gard

If you wish to retrace your steps back to Le Puy from St-Jean-du Gard it is possible to take a shuttle van (shared) at a cost of €50 per person. The van leaves at 13.30 and arrives in Le Puy at 17.15. 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.


There are also public buses from St Jean-du-Gard to Nimes and from here you can take a TGV to Lyon or other destinations, such as Paris, and Lille. There are approximately 5 buses per day and you can check the following website for up to date schedules, Edgard Transport. The journey takes 1.5 hours.

Included

  • 7 Nights in B&B’s, auberges and small hotels
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 6 Dinners
  • Baggage transfers
  • 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

Excluded:
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to Chasserades
  • Travel from St-Jean-du-Gard
  • Lunches and 1 dinner
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Personal equipment

Extras

  • Single Room Supplement
  • Solo Supplement
  • Extra Night(s)
  • Private transfer Le Puy to Chasserades
  • Shuttle van (shared) Chasserades to Le Puy
  • Shuttle van (shared) St Jean du Gard 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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