In September 1878 R L Stevenson bought a donkey, Modestine, and walked the 140miles from La Monastier sur Gazelle to St. Jean du Gard. He subsequently wrote his now celebrated book Travels with a donkey in the Cevennes. It is worth reading this as it gives a real feeling for the period and for Stevenson’s quest for adventure. I downloaded it for free on Kindle to read each stage whilst on route. I know the times have changed but the feelings of the walking haven’t much, this area of France is still remote and mainly untouched by high commercial tourism.
The route starts in the volcanic Velay, wanders through the historic Gevaudan, climbs the Lozere mountains and finally explores the endless ranges of the wooded Cevennes. So a great variety of scenery and culture. Each day is certainly different. Originally the route was followed by eccentric English walkers and was never waymarked. But 20 years ago the French took it to heart, waymarked and promoted it and eventually it received a GR number – 70. It is now firmly established and seems mainly used by the French, where are all the patriotic Brits? Donkeys are optional. There are plenty of places to hire them but the few people we met using them were not finding it easy. In retrospect I think it would have been fun for a few days but not the whole trip.
My photos on the trail and posted on my blogs were taken using my mobile so do not really capture the beauty of the villages and countryside.
So the route is not demanding, stages can be shortened, paths generally good, the signing is excellent, accommodation characterful, plentiful and frequent, the scenery brilliant and the bonhomie top class. I highly rate this route and it would be an ideal 1st GR trail for anyone.
Cicerone produce an English language comprehensive guide book and there is an excellent FFRandonnee Topo Guide which gives basic maps so you don’t need to purchase any. There is an excellent website http://chemin-stevenson.org/en/