Le Pont de Montvert — Mijavols.
This morning was almost a rerun of yesterday’s – steep uphill on old paved tracks into the forest. Wild boar hunting was going on and there were lots of people out with their baskets mushrooming. We had decided to split the long section to Florac into two more reasonable days by a slight diversion to a gite d’etape. We therefore had plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings and scenery. The views back down to Pont Montvert as we gained height were sensational. By the time we had reached the top of the first climb at Col de la Planette it was lunch time. We had caught up with the donkey team, two German women and Paprika. They had unsaddled Paprika who was grazing trees and grasses happily whilst they lunched. We had a hands on demonstration of donkey loading and they wandered off up the trail. It all looked idyllic but the girls talked of problems with the, at times, stubborn beast who knew the trail well and had her own ideas of pace and stopping places. We followed leisurely behind up the ridge to the summit of Signal du Bouges, 1421m. It was a glorious day and we lingered to enjoy the views back to yesterday’s route over Mt. Lozere and the views to the south into the Cevennes.
The ridge led onwards through purple heather. To reach our overnight lodgings we left the ridge halfway and descended steeply to a remote hamlet – Mijavols. On the way down we met the German women clutching onto the reins of the donkey who had been spooked by a dog and set off at a canter – it is difficult to hold onto a donkey!! The gite was a basic barn amongst agricultural buildings. A room downstairs served as a dining area with attached kitchen, the next floor had a dorm and washrooms and above was another six bunked room – all very cosy. The donkey arrived and was put into its own field for the night, the guardians providing grain for it. The two French couples we had met for the last few days turned up and a larger jolly group who were being followed and supplied from ‘la voiture rouge’. We had time to watch the rural life in this remote spot where not much has changed in 50 years or more. Our dinner was served down in the hamlet at the farmer’s humble house. The wife had a rather stern presence but served up a wonderful meal of her own products – Ham, Blette and sausage, omelette, goats cheese and cake. And no one snored in the crowded dormitory! Another glorious day.