ST 8: Top of the world

We spent a lovely couple of hours chatting in the bar with a great couple from New Zealand yesterday afternoon, and then spent most of today walking together. It’s wonderful being in France, surrounded by French – but liberating to be able to talk fluently in English.

Today’s walk was a bit different. For a start the elevation was like a perfect pyramid – the first 10km were steadily uphill, the second 10km equally steadily downhill. The rain is behind us and we walked though pine and beech forests up to the snowline. From there we were walking through high-tundra with no trees and deeply scarred grasslands, relieved by ancient standing stones. It was cold enough that the hail from yesterday’s storms was crunching underfoot on the path in spite of the warm day.

The top of our ascent was a bald dome with 360-degree views all around. The view stretched back to Le Puy where we started the walk 150km ago. I have to admit we didn’t linger because the wind was strong and cold.

The descent was gentle and, out of the wind, the day was just glorious. Adam and Catriona were great walking company, so the walk passed quickly. We stopped for lunch in a tiny village where we ate on a bench while being stared at by a dog with deeply disturbing eye problems and a number of chickens who happily cleared up our crumbs.

Not long after, we crossed paths with Suzie who is an American we briefly met on our first day. That strangely put all of the English-speakers on the current trail in one group, drawn together by some strange magnetism.

Pont de Montvert

Pont de Montvert has to be a contender for most beautiful village in France – two stone bridges, swiftly flowing rivers, old houses and cute bars. We are staying in the Auberge de Cevenes which has two claims to fame – Stevenson actually stayed in the same place, and it’s the nicest place we’ve stayed since we started the walk. Happiness is a well-earned beer with this view.

We glimpsed a donkey this morning, but think it was the same one from yesterday so the donkey high tide mark remains at 2.

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