Grande ran­don­née

France - - France At A Glance - Jim and Jackie Buck, Nébian, France

We found the ar­ti­cle on walk­ing in Provence (Oc­to­ber 2018, is­sue 241) in­ter­est­ing as, start­ing in 1995, we walked from the Ital­ian bor­der, partly through the Gorges du Ver­don and over Mont Ven­toux, to cross the Rhône at Pont-st-esprit. Very few kilo­me­tres in­land, the con­trast with the bustling coast is strik­ing – it is empty coun­try to the ex­tent that it could be dif­fi­cult to find ac­com­mo­da­tion. Our daily av­er­age was 25km but was oc­ca­sion­ally longer to find a bed for the night. A fur­ther dif­fi­culty was that our route was at right an­gles to the river val­leys, so no sooner had we gained height, then it was down again to cross an­other river. We climbed out of the Ver­don val­ley and at the top, saw to our right the in­cred­i­ble blue colour of the Lac de Sainte-croix. In the far dis­tance be­yond, an un­bro­ken sheet of mauve laven­der at Mt Ven­toux; over a week’s walk away, and at our feet, a steep de­scent to Moustiers. Our des­ti­na­tion was Four­ras on the At­lantic coast, to be done in two stages but in mid-may it snowed on Mt Ven­toux, Jackie slipped and broke her arm, thus cut­ting short the first stage. The fol­low­ing year we re­sumed our walk from Malaucène and in two stages reached the At­lantic. In 1992, hav­ing de­cided to move to France, we walked from La Manche to the Méditer­ranée, from Ouistre­ham to Hérault, which took nine weeks. Wait­ing to board a ferry at Ouistre­ham, Jackie had seen a no­tice ‘GR 36 Les Pyrénées’ and said “When we re­tire we can do that” It was an ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ence. We saw it as a sort of pil­grim­age to a new home and a new life.

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