Hiking diary: On the Stevenson Trail

Written by: Enora Gelot



Time to read 7 min

If there are journeys that mark the existence of an individual, Stevenson's Path will be one of them for me. At least one of my first unforgettable hikes.

In April 2022, taking the GR70 route, for three days I followed the trail of the famous Robert Louis Stevenson.

“The joy of the traveler who shakes off the dust of one stage before setting off towards another”

From September 22 to October 4, 1878, leaving from Monastier sur Gazeille, the writer crossed Velay, Gévaudan, Mont Lozère and the Cévennes to arrive at Saint Jean du Gard then Alès. During this excursion, his only traveling companion was a donkey, Modestine. On his way, encounters, lots of encounters, more or less friendly.

Robert Louis Stevenson took notes of his trip and published them in 1879: Travel with a donkey in the Cévennes.

If his descriptions and analyzes of the land are firmly rooted in the 19th century, certain observations and emotions linked to travel are still relevant today. He, with his Modestine and his bundle, me, with my Salomons on my feet, and my Lagoped jacket on my back, we undeniably shared some of the same sensations and visions. The meetings were also an integral part of my journey (however short it was): Sébastien du Puy-en-Velay, Coubon's grandmother, Vlad du Monastier, the grandfather from Metz, Victoire du Bouchet, Landos' grandmother, the papi de Pradelles… they are guests, walkers, inhabitants, they are strangers encountered during a literary pilgrimage, generous traveling companions.

“I don’t travel to go somewhere; but to travel; I travel for the pleasure of travel. The main thing is to move; to experience a little more closely the necessities and hazards of life, to leave the cozy bed of civilization and to feel under one's feet the granite of the earth with, in places, the edge of flint. »

Robert Louis Stevenson

Travelogue :

Departure : Le Puy-en-Velay

Arrival : Langogne (three days of walking), Alès (complete route)

Day 1 of the hike: Paris -> Le Puy-en-Velay

I got on the train at Gare de Lyon at 12:50 p.m., it was the start of my adventure. My heart beats hard as I walk onto the platform. As the landscapes change and become greener, wilder, a big smile appears on my face.

Arriving at the station, I just have time to stride towards the Notre-Dame de France statue on its rock. I then approach the city with haughtiness.

I then settle in at the La Prévôté gîte where I advise you to reserve your bed. Sébastien welcomes me warmly. For dinner, I will sit at the Aline et H restaurant, at the bottom of the steps of the cathedral, the starting point for pilgrims, and taste the famous Puy lentils.

I have time to enjoy a short stroll in the old town, between the cobblestones and the winding streets, to enjoy the sunset before treating myself to a good night's sleep.

Stevenson Trail Hiking
Stevenson Trail Hiking
Stevenson Trail Hiking

Transport : TGV Paris Gare de Lyon -> Saint-Etienne Châteauroux (3h), TER Saint-Etienne Châteaucreux -> Le Puy-en-Velay (1h20)

To visit : Notre-Dame-du-Puy Cathedral, Notre-Dame de France Statue

Dinner : Restaurant Aline et H

Accommodation : Gite La Prévôté

Day 2 of the hike: Le Puy-en-Velay -> Le Monastier-sur-Gazeille

The adventure begins this morning, I wake up to the sound of the cathedral bells. I open the window of my room which overlooks a garden and the Notre-Dame de France statue. The weather is nice and cool, a beautiful day is ahead!

Before venturing on the path, I take the time to visit the Saint Michel d'Aiguilhe rock seen the day before. On the trail, I am practically the only one. The pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela were earlier in the morning.

In Coubon, I take a lunch break. On the menu: sausage and La Stevenson beer, to celebrate the feeling of fullness and happiness that has invaded me for several hours now.

“I have not often felt so much intimate satisfaction in the presence of a site. I moved in a delicious atmosphere and felt cheerful and calm and happy. »

Robert Louis Stevenson

I carefully follow the path, letting myself be carried away by the music of the birds, the wind in the trees and the farmers in the distance.

Stevenson Trail Hiking
Stevenson Trail Hiking
Stevenson Trail Hiking

Arriving in Monastier, I settle into the inn of the old gendarmerie. I enjoy the sunset near the church and before closing my eyes, I do some research on Fanny Van de Grift, the one who makes the heart of my traveling companion, Robert Louis.

Distance : 23km

Elevation gain : +739m

Duration : 5 hours

GPS track

To visit : Rocher Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe

Accommodation : Former gendarmerie - Gîte Les Gens Dorment

Day 3 of the hike: Le Monastier-sur-Gazeille -> Le Bouchet-Saint-Nicolas

I leave Monastier in the early morning, full of energy. The awakenings on the way have nothing to do with those of everyday Parisian life, it's not surprising but so satisfying. Passing through Goudet, I hesitate to make the detour via the castle. The day is still long, I decide to continue on my way. I finally come across several walkers on my route, couples, groups of friends. We exchange hellos, smiles and a few comments about our adventures.

Stevenson Trail Hiking
Stevenson Trail Hiking
Stevenson Trail Hiking

Arriving at Le Bouchet is overwhelming: I am totally charmed by the tranquility of the village, located high up, and by the comfort of the accommodation that I have booked for the night. Victoire welcomes me there like a friend and I imagine staying a few days, or a few weeks in this house.

Distance : 24km

Elevation gain : +655m

Duration : 5h15

GPS track

Before sunset, I decide to extend the day by walking to the Lake, and it is worth the detour. The colors of the shores of the lake take me to Canada, where I have never been but whose photos make me really want to. I take advantage of the Chalet du lac to treat myself to a little aperitif and simply enjoy the moment and the chance I have to be there.

“A man must have meditated on a landscape before undertaking to fully enjoy it. It is not through the youthful enthusiasm experienced when conquering a summit that we can appropriate the quintessence of beauty. »

Robert Louis Stevenson

Stevenson Trail Hiking
Stevenson Trail Hiking
Stevenson Trail Hiking

A short bonus hike: Return trip to Lac du Bouchet

Distance : 6.5km

Height difference : +150m

Duration : 1h30

GPS track

To see : Goudet castle, Bouchet lake, Chalet du Lac du Bouchet

Accommodation : Le Flambeau

Day 4 of the hike: Le Bouchet-Saint-Nicolas -> Langogne

In the early morning, a feeling of nostalgia invaded me. I'm leaving Le Bouchet for my last hike, I would like this adventure to last longer, I would like to follow the path to Alès. Before returning to the trail, I salute the Stevenson statue and post my postcards.

This is the longest distance on my tour: I meet people and chat with women older than me who I met the day before on the path. I also cross paths with a herd of cows and a bull. I melt into the bushes under his insistent gaze, much to the breeder's amusement.

Stevenson Trail Hiking
Stevenson Trail Hiking
Stevenson Trail Hiking

In Pradelles, I wander through the streets before finding the place for my lunch break. As I finish Robert Louis Stevenson's book, my eyes meet those of a grandfather who comes to meet me. He is passionate about the history of his region to the point of reading the archives during his confinement two years ago. It's exciting. I let myself be carried away by his stories and anecdotes. Time flies and I have to take leave of this rich meeting but take care to note his Facebook contact: “Tourism in the land of predelles”.

After Pradelles, I quickly arrive in Langogne. The nostalgia felt in the early morning increases. I have to spend the night in this city which doesn't have as much charm as my previous stops. I then decide to bring my train forward to return to Paris.

Distance : 28km

Elevation gain : +491m

Duration : 6 hours

GPS track

To see : The Statue of Stevenson, Pradelles

This is the end of my first adventure on the Stevenson path. The end of my pedestrian and spiritual path. I return with a full heart but tormented by the idea of ​​leaving the path and my traveling companions. I don't know when I will get back on the path, I have finished the story of Stevenson's journey but my journey has only just begun.

"Here ended the first part of my journey. And it was like a harmonious introduction to the other and much more beautiful still."

Robert Louis Stevenson

I will remember the tranquility and beauty of the landscapes and the soul of each village I pass through. I will remember the spontaneity and generosity of each person I met, never indifferent to your passage and your story. I will always recognize the privilege of being able to walk and travel alone. Finally, I will remember the warm solitude that accompanied me on the path.

For more information on the Stevenson Path: https://www.chemin-stevenson.org/decouvrez-le-chemin-de-stevenson-gr70/

Enora Gelot Lagoped

Enora Gelot

I joined Lagoped as Marketing Manager in January 2024. An ideal opportunity for me, as I appreciate the moments spent in nature during hikes or other sporting activities that I practice: cycling and running. Amateur photographer, I take great pleasure in sharing my travels and hikes with my friends and now with you, dear readers!