Donkey trekking Stevenson is an opportunity to enjoy one of Europe’s top hikes in the company of a trusted and long-eared companion. Remember, you’re the one who’s never hiked this trail before, not the Ass.”Donkey trekking Stevenson is quintessentially green, modern and yet retro. So leave your car or camper van at home and enjoy a walking holiday that reduces your carbon footprint to an absolute minimum. It’s also light on your back, as the donkey carries your luggage and backpack – subject to a maximum 30 kgs per mule. Hey, this is an animal-friendly experience as well!
Your holiday commences with a short training session in donkey handling and asinine negotiating skills, and is your first opportunity to meet your travel companion for the next six days. Be firm, but fair! You’ll learn much that will prove invaluable both during and after your ‘guided’ walking adventure across Velay and Gévaudan. Life changing? Just maybe! But don’t worry – full scale maps and comprehensive walking notes are provided and there’s local back-up to handle any donkey-related difficulties!
You can then experience the delights of hiking across 105 kilometres or 69 miles of rich and varied terrain between Le Monastier and Chasseradès; following in the footsteps [and hoof-prints] of Robert Louis Stevenson and his trusted companion, Modestine, à la “Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes” (1879) whilst championing the cause of modern-day, ecologically-friendly adventure travel.
Donkey trekking with RL Stevenson takes you to the Plateau de Chambonnet on your last day’s hiking. At 1310 ms altitude, the highest point of your trek, you cross the Atlantic–Mediterranean watershed and head down valley to Chasseradès and the Mirandol Viaduct. Bid a fond farewell to your long-eared friend and please return next year for Part Two of The RLS Trail – with or without a donkey!
- €995.00 Euros or £890.00 Pounds Sterling
[per person in a shared double or twin-bedded room]
- Hike in R. L. Stevenson’s footsteps
- ‘Top-ten’ literary trail in remotest France
- Trek with a donkey & let it take the strain – you carry just a day backpack
- Light-to-moderate hiking across two distinct historical regions – made lighter and/or moderate due to the addition of the donkey!
- Visit fascinating hamlets and villages as you complete Part One of this important trek
- Key Details
- 7-night, self-guided light walking tour accompanied by a donkey
- Arrive any day of the week from mid-April to mid-October
- Tour starts in Le Puy en Velay and finishes in La Bastide Puy Laurant
- Best access: Lyon airport or SNCF, with onward regional train to Le Puy via St Etienne
- 2-star accommodation standard
- What’s Included
- B&B: 7-nights in 2-star hotels, auberges or equivalent chambres d’hotes
- Taxi transfers at the start and end of the tour
- Donkey hire and induction session in donkey handling
- Up to 30 kgs of luggage transported by your donkey¹
- Overnight nourishment and accommodation for the donkey
- 1:25,000 maps, excellent walking notes & dossier
- 7/7 Emergency telephone back-up & support and emergency assistance for the donkey.
¹ Note: This means one piece of luggage per person, each weighing up to 15 kgs. We can also transfer extra/ overweight luggage for a small supplement – please ask for details.
- Nearest airport or SNCF station is Lyon [3 hrs on TGV from Paris or Lille] with onward train journey to Le Puy via St Etienne.
- Next-best access is via Nimes or Montpellier airports, with onward TGV to Lyon – 30 and 60 minute journeys, respectively.
- Alternative convenient option is via Clermont-Ferrand airport, with onward regional train to Le Puy via St Etienne.
Departure by train to Nimes [90 mins.] and onward TGV train north or south; or fly from Nimes airport to Brussels or London Luton by RyanAir.
- Good level of character and comfort, all with en-suite facilities.
- Carefully-selected 2-star standard hotels, chambres d’hotes or auberges.
- Generous picnic lunches and diners showcasing regional specialities are available on demand from your hosts.
- Warm, dry summers; mild spring and autumn
- Undulating volcanic plateau; medieval villages & historic hamlets
Donkey trekking Stevenson – Tour Itinerary.
[Times, distances and elevations are approximate]
Day 1: Arrival in Le Puy en Velay and hotel check-in. A visit to Puy merits a day’s stay in itself, so much history is there here to enjoy – get there early! Night in Le Puy.
Le Puy to Goudet
6.5 miles-9.5 kms, 4 hrs, +190 ms -325 ms
Taxi transfer (20 kms) to Le Monastier and the start of the trail. Gently ascend to the volcanic plateau with its myriad ‘puy’ and get acquainted with your new companion. The trail after St Martin is a gem; and the descent into the Loire valley breathtaking. You stay in a walkers’ inn coveted by Stevenson himself.
Night in Goudet.
Goudet to Le Bouchet
8.5 miles-12.5 kms, 5 hrs, +400 ms
The fine climb out of the deeply-incised Upper Loire gorge and past chateau Beaufort leads you through isolated and picturesque villages on route to Le Bouchet St Nicholas, Stevenson’s first overnight stop, with its fine lake.
Night in Langogne.
Le Bouchet to Pradelles
12 miles-19 kms, 6 hrs, +285 ms -375 ms
The ascents and descents are less steep today, but the walking is far from flat as you climb to the volcanic plateau from the Arquejol Viaduct before the descent to the fine granite ‘City of the High Prairies’.
Night in Pradelles.
Pradelles to Cheylard
11 miles-18 kms, 6 hrs, +310 ms -320 ms
Mercoire Forest & ‘The Beast’
You descend to Langogne along a trail shared with the Regordane way, into the land of the ‘Beast of Gevaudan’, through forest and charming hamlet en route to the medieval village of Cheylard, repleat with church, chapel and abbey.
Night in Cheylard l’Eveque.
Cheylard to La Bastide
12 miles-19 kms, 6 hrs, +240 ms -380 ms
Lake Gardille & Luc
You climb through the Gardille forest and have lunch beside its eponymous lake, before climbing, then descending, to the impressive ruins of Luc castle. Then you follow the medieval Regordane Way alongside the Cevenol railway and cross the Allier River en route to the historic resting place of La Bastide Puy-Laurent.
Night in La Bastide Puylaurent.
La Bastide to Chasseradès
8 miles-12 kms, 4 hrs, +330 ms – 160 ms
Climb to the Chambonnet Plateau and through the Gardille forest en route to the charming hamlet of Chabalier. You cross paths again with the l’Allier before descending to charming Chasserades.
Night in Chasseradès.
Day 7: Departure day – Short morning transfer back to La Bastide for onward train north or southwards. See you next year for Part Two of the trek!
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Independent testimonials about walking the Stevenson Way with The Enlightened Traveller can be read here:
- Follow in the hoof-steps of Modestine, RLS' trusted female companion
- Lose yourself in remote rural France - but not literally!
- Celebrate the life and works of RLS in an authentic manner and the trail that keeps his memory alive.
- The donkey may or may not know the way better than you!
- Fun and Relaxation needs to be balanced with Negotiation - do you possess the requisite skills?
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to persuade a long-eared assinine companion to help make the journey a memorable success - a vous de jouer!"
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