… and you’ll get to the gîte before me.  

April 6, 2024 – Saint-Jean-de-La-Blaquiere – Lodeve – 15kms – Chambre Entree Independent 

April 7, 2024 – Lodeve – Le Bousquet-d’Orb – 31kms – Gite Roselyne

April 8, 2024 – Le Bousquet-d’Orb – Saint Gervais-sur-Mare – 26kms- Chez Camille

The region of France that we are currently traversing is getting wilder; in fact, much wilder than I had expected.  The villages nestle at the foot of the hills, and that has lead to very different routes for Ruth and I each day.  She generally stays relatively low, going down one valley and up another.  I, on the other hand, am tossed over the ridges in between.  One might expect some efficiencies in terms of distance, but generally the road route is not only easier, but also shorter.  This is something we have come to expect on French Grande Randonees: they are often very beautiful, but inefficient.

The Arles Route is turning out to be one of the more challenging Caminos that I have walked.  Yesterday, for instance, I walked 31 kms with 800 metres of climbing.  Today was 26 kms with 900 metres of uphill.  I am pleased to pass comparatively long days in the forest, but not all pilgrims feel the same.  The fact that there is often a shorter and easier walk on the lightly trafficked roads opens up the possibility of an easier route for pilgrims that don’t wish to do all of the long and challenging traditional stages.

Climbing up into the hills each day takes me through a number of climatic zones, and even takes me back in time a bit, as the Spring is much less advanced in the higher hills.  I often start and finish my day in the garrigue, the name given to the scrubby low elevation forest of evergreen (Holm) oak, rosemary, thyme and euphorbia.  At higher elevations there are deciduous oaks that haven’t come into leaf, and higher yet conifer forests and the ancient beech forests, also not yet in leaf.  At all elevations there is a nice mix of Spring flowers, many of which appear to be wild versions of plants we have in our garden.  Yesterday I walked past an entire hillside of wild helleborus; it was stunning.

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