On Marche! - Le Chemin de Stevenson and Provence travel blog

Le Puy en Velay


On Commence Le Chemin!

The locals


Old waymarker of the Chemin de Stevenson


It does indeed take a little work to get to a small town in Southern France, but can we all agree it's worth it? Planes to Paris and Clermont-Ferand, and train and bus to Le Puy en Velay get us there. Air France has my vote, especially after the pilot showed us that he indeed knows what he's doing when autopilot is off. Just as we're landing gear down-a few hundred metres off the ground he has to abort landing, pull up and suck that million-ton beast back up to cruising altitude to come around and try again- word was that there was a plane on the runway in his way! So that happens?! Anyway we were mildly disturbed but impressed. Efficient SNCF rail, uncharacteristically not on strike, deposited us in Le Puy en Velay, where the countryside is dotted with Les Puys, or pointed hills that are the the 'plugs' of extinct ancient volcanoes. It is quite cool to see, but at hour 28 from our embarkation , we are more enamoured by the outdoor cafe where we sip Auvergne rose with cheese and charcuterie plates while listening to a lively 'Gypsy-King-esque' trio. Bienvenue a France.

Aug. 20/18.

Walking again. We hike our first day on the Chemin de Stevenson from St Martin de Fugiers to Boucher Saint Nicholas, up and down the walls of the Loire River valley and onto high farming plateaus of the Auvergne. Sunny and green, a few fellow hikers, the odd plaque of Stevenson and his donkey, and indeed a few "donkey parking " signs on the grounds of the gites, but no actual donkeys...hawks circling overhead in blue skies. 15 kilometres and noooo complaints today. When we arrive we rent 2 squeaky bikes with questionable brakes, and take an excursion out to the lake Lac du Boucher a few km away - apparently RL Stevenson had trouble finding this lake despite multiple tries but today tous le monde have found it and are spending the afternoon walking the lakeside and enjoying cremes glacé . Our auberge for the night is a big stone house with rooms around a large communal farmhouse living/ dining area. Our dinner companions around a long table are 13 French folks , 2 groups from the Brittany and Chamonix areas who pass around big pots of stewed and herbed sausages and potatoes and local green lentil/ tomato salad- Auvergne is known for les lentilles vertes. We have a few laughs as we gamely butcher each others' languages and Doug entertains by trying new smelly cheese and samples of the homemade Juniper and Raspberry liquor that one of the Frenchmen has somehow brought along in his luggage.

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