We had a GREAT time walking the Stevenson Trail France EXTRA and look forward to looking for another trip we can do with you. Thank you for all your detailed arrangements”
- Mr Leslie of the USA.
The Stevenson Trail France EXTRA is your opportunity to enjoy The Stevenson Trail (GR 70), a top-ten rated inn-to-inn hike, as part of a more relaxed schedule that allows more time to enjoy places and sites en route.
The Stevenson Trail France is arguably the most significant recreational trek in the world, as Robert Louis Stevenson was the avante-garde social hiker. The trail he followed 146 years ago, from Le Monastier in the Haute Loire to St Jean in south-eastern Cevennes, inspired his first book, Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879), a classic of outdoor literature that set the standard for travelogues.
The complete Stevenson Trail France EXTRA tour is a distance of 156-miles/252 kms and links Le Monastier, near Puy-en-Velay in the Haute Loire, to St Jean du Gard in south-eastern Cevennes. The overall challenge averages 10½ miles/16 kms per day, so well within the capacity of most healthy adults, with just one long day at 15½ miles.
- A ‘world’s top travel adventure’ by Forbes Traveler- who recommend The Enlightened Traveller – see ‘yellow highlighted’ link below.
- Enjoy sub-alpine to Mediterranean flora and volcanic plateau to schist valley topography.
- Hike the best of the Cevennes’ hill-crests and Mont Lozere – 5573 ft/1699 m.
- Visit fascinating and historic villages en route.
- 13-night, moderate self-guided tour
- Start any day, beg. April to mid-October.
- Tour starts in Le Puy-en-Velay and finishes in St Jean du Gard, near Al7s.
- Best access: Lyon airport or SNCF, with onward train to Le Puy via St Etienne.
- Welcoming mix of ‘2-star standard’ hotels and auberges.
- Optional return transfer to Le Puy at tour’s end – please ask us for details.
- We transport your luggage, you just carry a light day pack.
- 13 nights B & B in ‘2-star standard’ hotels and auberges and all hotel taxes
- 11 picnic lunches and 11 evening meals – leaving you free to choose where to eat dinner in le Puy and St Jean, and buy packed lunch in Le Monastier and St Germain – options are available.
- Luggage transfers¹ and transport integral to the programme, incl. a transfer from Le Puy to Le Monastier, the start of the trail.
- Hiking Insight Notes™ that empower & make orientation easy
- Insightful dossier and 1:50,000 scale maps – 1:25 000 full scale maps are available for a supplement.
- 7/7, 8am to 8 pm telephone support in native English.
¹ You are entitled to take one piece of luggage per person weighing up to 13 kgs. Supplements are payable for extra or overweight luggage.
Note: we are able to arrange for your excess luggage to be securely stored for the duration of your tour and delivered to the final hotel before your departure. Please ask us for further details of this service if it is of interest to you.
Remaining meals and all drinks and extras;
entrances into any optional cultural visits and venues;
hiking, personal and travel insurances;
travel to Le Puy and from St. Jean du Gard.
- 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 (2 hrs 20 mins.).
- Next-best access is via Nimes or Montpellier airports, with onward TGV to Lyon – 30 and 60 minute journeys, respectively.
- Alternative option is via Clermont-Ferrand airport, with onward regional train to Le Puy via St Etienne.
- There is a bus to Alès (except for Sundays) that departs from The Post Office at approx 8.30 am, arriving in Alès station at 09.25. You can download the timetable here, and scroll down to find the pdf for Ligne 81 under Choisissez une Ligne.
- Onward trains from Alès to Nimes take 40 minutes. Find the train times here.
- There is also a direct bus to Nimes and you can download the A12 timetable here.
- Alternatively, your hosts in St Jean can arrange a taxi to Alès for you – either upon arrival or in advance. Their contact details are provided in the tour dossier.
- A mix of comfortable, family-run,’2-star standard’ hotels or equivalent chambres d’hotes and auberges.
- En-suite facilities.
- Evening meals follow a fixed menu format for all half-board guests and do not include drinks. Most hotel menus provide a meat or fish dish, plus a vegetarian option; whilst chambres d’hotes and auberges tend to function around one common meal of which all guests partake, bar vegetarians, who would have an alternative dish. All showcase ‘produits du terroirs’ typical of the regions through which you walk.
- Generous packed lunches, which do not include drinks.
- Warm summers; mild and sunny spring & autumn
- Good choice of trail for July & August, as you walk at an average altitude of 900 to 1000 metres (3000+ feet), except for the final two (or three) days in the Cevennes valleys.
- Enjoy sub-alpine to Mediterranean flora and volcanic plateau to schist valley topography.
- Cross four ‘natural’ historical regions – Velay, Gevaudan, Mont Lozere & Cevennes.
Stevenson Trail France EXTRA not only provides an opportunity to retrace Stevenson’s footsteps, but is a fine and varied trek, crossing four natural regions in south central France: Velay, Gévaudan, Mont Lozere and Cévennes. You have the privilege of experiencing life in France’s own ‘treasure island’ – the most remote parts of The Hexagon that have recently acheived UNESCO World Heritage status.
If you only ever do one inn-to-inn hike in France, The Stevenson trail is arguably the one to do. But don’t rush it, choose Stevenson Trail France EXTRA and arrive in St Jean du Gard feeling you’ve quite literally enjoyed the hiking experience of a life-time and at your own speed.
Stevenson Trail France EXTRA – Tour Itinerary
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 Monastier to Goudet
[7 miles-11 kms, approx. 3 hrs, +190 ms -325 ms]
Taxi transfer (20 kms) to Le Monastier, where RLS started his trek. Have a good look around the village, with its abbey, castle and museum before commencing your descent into the Upper Loire Valley.
Night in Goudet.
Goudet to Le Bouchet
[8.5 miles-12.5 kms, approx. 4.5 hrs, +400 ms]
You climb through charming hamlets and across volcanic plateau, before arriving at Stevenson’s next overnight stop.
Night in Le Bouchet St Nicolas.
Le Bouchet to Pradelles.
[12 miles-19 kms, approx. 6 hrs, +285 ms -375 ms]
The climbs and descents are less pronounced today, but the views from the volcanic plateau across to Lake Naussac are superb as you approach the ‘City of the High Prairies’.
Night in Pradelles.
Pradelles to Cheylard
[14 miles-23.5 kms, approx. 6 hrs, +320 ms -350 ms]
You traverse the land of the ‘Beast of Gevaudan’, through forest and charming hamlet en route to the medieval village of Cheylard, with its hill-top chapel.
Night in Cheylard l’Eveque.
Cheylard l’Eveque to La Bastide.
[12 miles-19 kms. approx. 5 hrs, +240 ms -380 ms]
Lake Gardille & Luc
Climb through the Gardille forest and lunch beside its eponymous lake, before descending to the impressive ruins of Luc castle. Follow the medieval Regordane Way across the Allier River to the historic resting place of La Bastide Puy-Laurent.
Night in La Bastide.
La Bastide to Chasseradès.
[7.5 miles-12 kms, approx. 3.5 hrs, +330 ms – 160 ms]
Over the Watershed
You climb to the watershed between the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and head down valley to picturesque Chasseradès.
Night in Chasseradès.
Chasseradès to Le Bleymard.
[10.25 miles-16.5 kms, 5.5 hrs, +280 ms -390 ms]
You climb into Goulet Forest, and enter the Cevennes proper with some great views, before following the Lot from near its source to Les Alpiers and onto Bleymard.
Night in Bleymard.
Le Bleymard to Pont de Montvert.
[11 miles-18 kms, approx. 6.5 hrs, +630 ms -824 ms].
A memorable ascent to Mont Lozere, and the highest point in south-central France, Le Pic de Finiels (1699 ms). Then it’s a steep descent followed by a gentle hike to Le Pont de Montvert and into Camisard Country.
Night in Pont de Montvert.
Pont de Montvert to Florac.
[15.5 miles-25 km, approx. 7 hrs, +545 ms -875 ms.
Signal du Bouges
The longest day is blessed with some memorable views over the waves of Cevennes hills as you walk mountain crest, crossing from Mediterranean to Alpine flora and back along the watershed.
Night in Florac.
Florac to Cassagnas.
[11 miles-16.5 kms, 5 hrs, +200 ms -50 ms].
The Mimente Valley
You walk the fabulous Mimente Valley trail, and pass the ruins of the château at St. Julien d’Arapon en route to the village of Cassagnas, a former Camisard stronghold.
Night in Cassagnas.
Cassagnas to St Germain de Calberte.
[8.5 miles-15 kms, 5 hrs, +270 ms -260 ms].
You climb to Pierre Plantée Pass at 891 ms and past several menhirs and chestnut groves, the traditional staff of life in the Cevennes, before arriving at character-full St Germain.
Night in St Germain.
St Germain to
St. Jean du Gard
[13 miles-21 kms, approx. 6 hrs, +350 ms -900 ms]
Corniche des Cevennes
Your last-day’s trekking has you walking the Corniche des Cevennes and climbing to a 360 degree vantage point for those last-gasp photos. The sharp descent to the Gardon Valley is a fitting finale and you have earned the right to chill out beside the heated outdoor pool or enjoy the delights of this market town, with castle, museums and plenty of cafes and restaurants.
Night in St Jean.
Day 14: Departure day from the Stevenson Trail France EXTRA tour – Enjoy your breakfast and onward journey to Ales. Bon retour et a la prochaine! Optional return transfer to Le Puy at tour’s end – please ask us for details.
Further Reading on The Stevenson Trail France EXTRA
Read our articles on:
Independent testimonials about walking the Stevenson Way with The Enlightened Traveller can be read here:
- A modern literary classic through deepest rural France
- Good choice of trail for summer - average altitude is 900 to 1000 metres (3000+ feet).
- The EXTRA version means more time to spend on the tour and more convenience, with lunches included.
- One long day - but the fine views make you forget it!
- The heat of the Cevennes valleys in July and August - i.e., the last 3 days
- The best times to walk the trail [May & September] are the most popular
A journey across four historic regions, at a pace to suit your needs and with lunch included."
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