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3
moderate

Traveller Rating

 

Activities
  • self guided walk
Accommodation
  • 7 nights in country hotels
Meals
  • 7 Dinners
  • 7 Breakfasts

8 Days£1350GBP

Overview

Trip Code: J8A

Trip highlights


  • A Walking Holiday Off The Beaten Track!
  • Hiking on the Massif Central
  • Historic Towns and Villages
  • Extensive Views Across the Rhone Valley
  • Chateau de Rochebonne

Facing the Alps across the broad valley of the Rhone lies a walker’s paradise of hills where the Ardeche, Loire and Haute Loire regions meet. This is a watershed for some of France’s great rivers, a land of steeply terraced slopes, half-hidden valleys and tumbling streams, largely absent from the guidebooks. Massive ruined farmhouses seem to have grown from the landscape and the bleat of goats and call of a wild bird are often the only sounds you will hear.

From the first walk at Le Crestet take an ancient drove road, partly through orchards, to the market town of Lamastre, set amongst hills covered with ancient chestnut trees of enormous girth. Turn north now and climb to the old spa-town of Lalouvesc, perched at 1100m above the Rhone valley, with views East as far as the snow-covered Alps on a clear day. Skirting the Haut-Vivarais, looking down on tiny red-roofed hamlets clinging to steep grassy slopes, continue to the hill-village of St. Bonnet le Froid; then south through fields yellow with wild daffodils in late spring and orchids in early summer, skirting the Lac de Devesset (good for a possible dip on a warm day) to St Agreve. Set against the backdrop of Mt. Mezenc & Mt. Gerbier de Jonc, the source of the mighty Loire River, this small market town is a centre for cross-country skiing in winter. Its narrow main street is crammed with old-fashioned shops, selling Le Puy lentils and Rhone wine from the barrel. This 8-day circular walk then goes south past the mighty, ruined Chateau de Rochebonne overlooking the River Eyrieux. Continue to the narrow valley town of St. Martin de Valamas and then back to St. Agreve. On the way back to Lamaster, the circuit then takes you west along an ancient mule-road, the “Voie des Marchands”, with breathtaking views of the meticulously terraced slopes of the Haut Vivarais to the north.

Countries:

France

Starting Point:

Lamastre

Finishing Point:

Lamastre


Individual arrival at your hotel in Lamastre. Accommodation: Lamastre - You spend 2 nights at the long-established family-run Hotel des Negociants (**Logis) in a quiet shady corner near the center of the small market town of Lamastre. Situated opposite the old railway station, stay in comfortable rooms with ensuite facilities. Excellent dinner is served in the conservatory-style dining room above the small swimming pool.

Meals:  D

Your days starts with a short taxi journey (included) to Le Crestet. You then climb out of the village on a waymarked trail through orchards into wooded hills. The shady path follows an ancient drove road, where flocks would be transferred to the summer pastures in days gone by.

Meals:  B,D

Views back over Lamastre as you climb out of the valley on a well-graded path. At around lunch time you arrive at the pretty village of Nozieres. Further woodland and field walking brings you to Col de Buisson from where there is a steep ascent up onto a long open whaleback ridge before a final forest walk into Lalouvesc. There are glimpses into steep little valleys and views across towards the Alps on a clear day. Accommodation: Lalouvesc is perched at an altitude of 1100m and enjoys splendid views across the Rhone Valley to the distant Alps. Our simple walker’s hotel (*) Hotel des Voyageurs has ensuite facilities. It is located in the main street of this old spa town. The Patron, M.Guironnet, is a welcoming host and you will eat well in the 1950’s décor of the large dining room.

Meals:  B,D

Steep terraced slopes fall away to the South as you descend into a wooded valley, and the views are particularly good from the church at St. Pierre du Doux, an excellent spot for a picnic, you then have a climb through forest to the pretty village of St. Bonnet where the normal hotel is a couple of kilometers out. Accommodation: St Bonnet-le Froid - You enter the department of Haute-Loire tonight, you spend the night in an old country farmhouse the Auberge des Myrtilles that has been restored and sits in the heart of nature. The restaurant offers traditional cuisine based on local products.

Meals:  B,D

A lightly undulating day in woodland and high open country past Lac de Devesset to St Agreve (pop 2723) at 1050m under Mt. Chiniac There are some great views when it is clear. You can extend the walk slightly by visiting the holy spring. Accommodation: St.Agreve - We spend 2 nights at the Hotel Le Bois Sauvage. It is set in one acre of wooded park,between the upper Doux Valley, the Eyrieux Valley and the Haut-Lignon Plateau.

Meals:  B,D

This is a stunning walk to the village of St Martin de Valamas taking in the amazing views from the ruins of the Chateau de Rochebonne which are not to be missed. Taxi back to St Agrève (included).

Meals:  B,D

Leaving the high plain of St. Agreve by small paths you join an ancient mule-road, whose paved causeway can still be seen. The old village of Desaignes is worth exploring, then the trail follows the high ground overlooking the valley of Doux before dropping to the river to regain Lamastre. Accommodation: Lamastre and the Hotel des Negociants.

Meals:  B,D

Depart Lamastre after breakfast

Meals:  B


Inclusions

  • 7 breakfasts, 7 dinners
  • 7 nights accommodation in country hotels on a twin share with ensuite facilities where possible
  • Transfer start of day 2 to Le Crestet
  • Transfer St Martin to St Agrève
  • Information pack including route notes & maps
  • Emergency hotline
  • One piece of luggage per person transferred between your accommodation, not exceeding 20kg

  • Lunches & beverages
  • Entrance fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Travel to the start and from the end point of the trip
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Unscheduled transfers required during the trip
  • Excess Luggage
  • A supplement will apply if you are travelling solo or book a single room
  • Guide - this is a self guided holiday

Suitability

moderate

3

The tour is graded moderate (Grade 3); the terrain is not difficult but there are some ascents and descents. Fitness: The walking should present no difficulty to anyone in good general health who is accustomed to hiking.


Departure dates

Daily from 10 Apr to 20 Oct (except Tuesdays)

Priceper person from

£1350GBP

Options & Supplements*
  • Single Room SupplementGBP£270
  • Solo Traveller SupplementGBP£420
*Prices listed are per person

Trip reviews


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