The weather looked quite good. Sebastian gave us large bowls of café with warm milk and plain bread and jam. He discussed our plan with us and reminded us that the weekend was a holiday weekend and that we might need to arrange bookings in advance. We decided to rent his flat in Barre-des-Cévennes for the 30th and the 31st and he gave us directions and the key and we paid him in advance biding him goodbye. We went on to the patisserie to buy bread and to the marché for goat cheese. Then we walked past the gite to the main street, up the hill to find the GR 67 trail (the GR stands for the French Grande Randonée).
We started out in a suburban neighborhood quickly losing our way along Route D133. We did not find the trail but continued on D133 until the little town of St. Félix de Paillières where we found a Romanesque church from the 11th century which unfortunately was locked. We continued passing a farm where they sold honey and further on we stopped for lunch on a rock-terraced olive grove. We had wonderful goat’s cheese, bread, salty olives and some peanuts and raisons, with a view of mountains in the distance.
After lunch it clouded over but we were comfortable and even a little warm. We walked on through a beautiful farm where two men, a woman and a baby were having lunch at a table outside. They allowed us to refill out water bottles. It was lovely French meal with tablecloth and wine. After passing the farm, we lost our way but soon regained the trail and continued on, passing through a woods and down to the road. At a traffic circle we had to decide whether to go to La Salle or Colognac. Based on the recommendation of both Sebastian and the those we had passed at the farm, we decided to go to Colognac and not lose altitude. We were somewhat tired but encouraged by the song of the cuckoo as we walked from the circle to Colognac - it sounds just like the clock! As we approached Colognac we were greeted by a symphony of sheep bells - the flock was feeding in a field near a stream beneath our road. The shepherd was not far away accompanied by four sheep dogs that were carefully watching the sheep and keeping a wary eye on us.
It was 6:00 p.m. (we had completed about 15 miles) as we wearily proceeded past a school and up a gradual hill into the picturesque small village of Colognac. We found that the gite was also a chambre d'hote and we were given a comfortable room on the third floor with a private shower and a toilette just outside the door. Unfortunately we could not get any dinner in the town, so we drank wine and beer supplemented with potato chips at a table outside the gite, adding our tuna, bread and goat cheese for dinner. The people drinking with us were very pleasant - four Germans from Stuttgart and later some French people.
We asked Madame to assist us in finding accommodations for the following days. Unfortunately we could not find a place for Thursday night, but found a gite in Notre-Dame-de-la-Rouviere for Wednesday. We continued a nice evening on the patio with a bottle of chilled rosé.
Bon and I had an evening stroll about the village. It was about 9:40 p.m. when we returned and still not dark. A lovely day and a great start to our hike.
Copyright 2003 Donald R. Chauncey - All rights reserved