In preparation for our trip to Nepal last fall we took advantage of the numerous trails in our area to train for the steep Himalayan inclines. While southern France does not offer those nose bleed elevations that can provide acclimation to altitude, regional trails are steep and will get the heart pumping and strengthen the quads. This post covers some of the easier trails we found; harder options coming soon. All are blazed yellow and are easy to follow. Note, however, that the total ascents listed in Le Gard … à pied did not match our experience. Total ascents listed below are therefore from our own GPS calculations.
Our favorite in this category of easier climbs is #10 St Marcel de Fontfouillouse, 14.8K with a total ascent of 630 meters. Starting point: Les Plantiers, on D 20 off the D907, 20 kilometers west of St Jean du Gard.
From Le Gard … à pied
Photos taken September 7, 2012
The trail wanders through the grounds of the ancient church of Saint Marcel de Fontfouillouse, the site of an 11th century structure that was burned in the early 18th century and abandoned. It has been recently rebuilt.
Higher up ridge views of the Cevennes mountains.
In September wild blackberries begged to be picked. Recipe to follow.
Past the col de Espinas the trail descends down a pretty hide side, lush with ferns and lavender heather.
A donkey waits for us at the bottom of the hill. Running to greet us, he is obviously is fed by passing hikers on a regular basis.
The final walk along the river meanders through a more cultivated area of small villages and gardens.
Onions des Cevennes dry in the late afternoon sun.
Back in Les Plantiers
Two other trails to consider with total ascents of about 550 meters.
#6, La Chapelle Lachamp
12K, Total ascent 548 meters. Although a good climb to the viewpoint at the chapel, it’s a long walk back to the starting point at Robiac, 27 kilometers north of Alès on D904.
#11 Signal Saint Pierre
10.3 K, total ascent 530 meters. A relatively gentle climb up to the viewpoint at the signal, the trail becomes steeper on the return to the starting point at Pied-de-Côte, on D907, 4 kilometers west of Saint Jean du Gard.
For links to all the posts in this series see the South of France page.