From the Pyrenees to the Alps: Two Months Hiking Across France
Almost four months after the beginning of our journey in the south of Portugal, we arrived in France! From the Pyrenees to the Alps, we were about to start a 1,000km journey on foot to Italy.
Through the vote on Facebook, the coastal route had been chosen, and in particular the Camargue. What a surprise! This is one of the most beautiful and wildest places we have seen in the last six months of travel.
Get your backpack ready, you’ll rush to France after seeing this video
Pass the Pyrenees
We have had to do some research to find a pretty and practical passage at the end of May to cross between Spain and France. This winter was particularly long and snowy, which greatly complicated the task. We finally found a passage a few tens of kilometers east of Andorra, and absolutely nothing but our GPS indicated the border…
Before leaving the freshness of the mountains, we had a nice break at the hot springs of Fontpédrouse. Do you know anything better than a hot bath in the middle of nature after a long hiking day? Ok, maybe drinking a beer in a hot bath in the middle of nature after a long hiking day…
After the Pyrenees, we basically followed a North-East cape to Gruissan crossing the Pyrenees-Orientales and Aude.
We discovered some beautiful and unknown places (from us anyway). We spent a night in the beautiful cave of Trou de la Caune, hiked on the beautiful heights of Vingrau and finally reached the ponds of Gruissan, wild and colorful.
In Hérault, the trails looked more like a vineyard path and the garbage collected was kind of… annoying!
On the heights of the Lake Salagou, we were struck by the beauty of Cirque de Mourèze, these stone monoliths in this wooded setting are really worth seeing.
A small jump in civilization allowed us to attend the Festival of Fanfares in Montpellier: good atmosphere and cool encounters!
The Big Slap
The Camargue—what a shock! We did not expect to find a place so wild and so deserted in France. Between Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer and Salin-de-Giraud, we did not see anyone for 24 hours.
We were speechless in front of the rainbow of colors of the salt marshes, we enjoyed watching all the wildlife (mostly birds) in the park, and the few kilometers we traveled on the beach really gave us the feeling of being alone in the world!
If we could turn back time, we would take a tent rather than a tarp… Ultralight is good, but the mosquitoes were rough.
From Carry-le-Rouet to Marseille and from Marseille to Cassis and finally from Cassis to La Ciotat, we hiked along sublime coves, lined with a turquoise sea, all under a blazing sun.
We hiked several portions of the GR51, escaping regularly because we like to follow our own path 🙂
In the Calanques National Park between Marseille and Cassis, we had a day of twenty kilometers with a lot of altitude, to be honest, we ended on the kneecaps!
The next day, the Cliffs Soubeyrannes to La Ciotat were not a piece of cake!
The Golden Island
The tour of the island of Porquerolles was not easy either… 35 kilometers on a terrain often rocky and slippery, sometimes on trails about to disappear as they are little used. But again, landscapes to die for.
The Trail of Heaven
On the heights of Grasse, a path follows the aqueduct of Foulon, this big rusty pipe which supplies Grasse with drinking water. A unique trail, sometimes on the mountainside, sometimes in dark tunnels. Once again, we did not see anyone.
We started with the visit of the Alpha Park dedicated to a controversial animal in the area: the wolf. We totally recommend going there, it was a very nice visit.
Before crossing the Italian border, we made a stop at the Vacherie du Collet, a beautiful immersion in the life of an Italian family, passionate about their job and their way of life: 270 cows, a fantastic cheese, transhumance between France and Italy twice a year and especially, the big bells: witnesses of the history of the family.
Here we are in the Alps, ready to discover a new country and especially to face all this elevation for the next three months!
See you soon!
Marie & Nil
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