France 2003


May 28th, 2003

Wednesday - Colognac to Notre-Dame-de-la-Rouvière

Forest path into the Cevennes. View back to civilization. A menhir for a leaning post. The mountains ahead with yellow broom. Climb ahead shaded by a perfect cloud. At the top looking back over the trail. Destination - the mas just behind the trees. Our mas. The first course. Five star luxury.

Our petit-déjuner was set for us in a pleasant room one floor down. After breakfast I settled with Madame and we set out about 9:30 a.m. out through the little town of mostly summer houses. The trail climbed steadily up through a woods. We quickly left civilization behind as we entered the Cevennes Parc. The trail led west on the north side of a slope gaining altitude and with a view of what we thought was La Salle. As we emerged from the woods and into the high scrub, there were numerous flowers and butterflies and wonderful bird song, but saw no birds. It was difficult to tell exactly where we were from the map, but we reached to a col where we could also see the mountains to the south. The day was sunny with only the occasional cumulus cloud in the distance so the walking was very pleasant. We came to another col where there was a vertical stone and an old building with views in all directions. The mountain was now covered with the yellow broom flower - again with birds everywhere but none we could spot.

It became more rocky as we climbed. At a high point, we found a nice rock seat and backrest with a view to the southwest. We took off our packs and shoes, basking in the sun, as we ate lunch.

Afterwards, the trail merged with a road and then changed to a steady rocky climb. The footing was not easy and it began to be hot in the sun. Again we had the wonderful accompaniment of the cuckoo. Fortunately, one of those distant clouds came between us and the sun at the steepest part of the climb cooling us. We climbed to the col with a monument to Max Negre and a big telephone tower, the Col D.E. Fageas, where we could look down the other side to our destination. After consulting the map, we found a trail to the right that descended very steeply for a long time to the Col de l'Asclier. Here we met an elderly group of about five women and one man who had just done a climb around the Col. We chatted with them and then found our trail GR 6B which would take us to our gîte. Unfortunately, it led downhill for about 40 minutes - ground we would have to regain. We passed the gîte in a complex of buildings, but found the man that Bon had contacted the previous evening who showed us to the rooms and gave us two cold bottles of beer.

We unpacked and did laundry and writing on an outside terrace looking over the valley. Later, we explored the area down the road with a stream along side and looked back at the stone structure of the mas, or farm complex. Wild magenta foxglove and snap dragon grew along the road. We ambled back to our patio and watched as the Madame and her husband rounded up the donkeys which hikers use á la Robert Louis Stevenson who hiked the Cevennes.

After some time the attractive Madame brought a wonderful salad of fresh lettuce and tomato with a delicious dressing, some bread and a formidable bottle of wine. We set to work. This was soon followed by a pan of lasagna, then a cheese plate and finally Madame's daughter brought dishes of cut fruit. A lovely repast on our private patio overlooking the valley of Notre-Dame-de-la-Rouviere. After doing the dishes, we walked out again as darkness approached. Fortunately we were the only hikers in the gîte had everything to ourselves. It was quite chilly in the old stone building and we slept well under two blankets.

Copyright 2003 Donald R. Chauncey - All rights reserved