This week has probably been our best week of the whole trip so far! We absolutely love the Cevennes region with its mountains, deep gorges, high limestone upland plateaus and the ever-present sound of the mountain rivers as we drift off to sleep.
Robert Louis Stevenson was attracted to the Cevennes as it reminded him of his native Scotland. In 1878 he hiked 137 miles in this area and wrote a book about his experience. (See trivia question below.) There’s even a trail named after him which follows his journey. The famous Tarn Gorge runs through this area and has provided fantastic hiking and very tough mountain-grade ascents for the fold-up bike. The weather has been fantastic, but temperatures have varied by as much as 15 degrees from one valley system to the next!
Our bases for the week have been Ste. Enimie and Florac, both very different and both great bases for hiking and biking right from the campsites. Even driving around this area has been spectacular, with high mountain passes, the limestone upland (reminding us of English moorland) and views as if you are flying in a small plane. We even drove over the highest bridge in the world – see trivia answer below!Notable events this week:
• Old French cycling proverb – “All up hills are at least 10 kilometres in length, and if you happen to find one shorter, you won’t be able to cycle up it anyway”.
• French restaurants. When you try to order something off the menu, the whole place goes quiet and all the locals turn to stare at you, you wonder if you have:
a) Asked for the chef’s head on a plate
b) Told the waitress that there is a bad smell in here, or
c) Asked for dog poo with extra ice cream please!
• Ian and dogs do not get on. So you can imagine Ian’s reaction when after a long hot day having just arrived at the campsite, he makes a cup of tea. He settles in the camp chair and places the cup on the ground beside him. A small dog (like a ferret on steroids) immediately comes over and sticks his face right into the mug of tea and starts slurping (slurping, not even any manners). No comment is printable, but Liz did wonder about an exotic smell emanating from the barbecue pit later in the evening……………………….
• French cars. The roads in France are fantastic - easily the best we have seen in Europe. But the French cars are not. Peugeot and Renault are very average, but the Citroen design department must all have failed their entrance exams. The last interesting looking car Citroen designed was the 2CV back in 1948. See - Citroen 2CV
• Cookies. One person buys a packet of MILK chocolate biscuits, knowing they are safe as the other person hates milk chocolate. It is a little surprising when you return from the shower only to find that the person that HATES milk chocolate has eaten half the packet.
• 95% WIFI campsite coverage does not mean that 95% of the camp pitches or 95% of the time you get internet.
• I wonder if new bike warranty covers replacement brake blocks after less than 60 days?European trivia
Every week we will give you a trivia question, with the answer given the following week. Remember, no Googling!
Last week: Which town in France has the tallest bridge in the world?And the answer is: The Viaduct at Millau! Officially opened in 2004, the highest mast reaches up 343 metres or 1,125 feet from the base.
This week: What is the name of the book that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about his trek through the northern Cevennes?
(a) “Walking in the Cevennes”
(b) “Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes”
(c) “As I Walked Out One Summer Morning”
(d) “Travels in the Cevennes”
Until next week,
Liz & Ian