earlier in the year lou started to reminisce about the few days we spent in the cevennes the summer we bought the camper. discussing it we realised that was more than twenty years ago! our combined memories were a tad hazy. i remembered the river by the campsite and having dinner in the pretty courtyard garden of an auberge in aveze whereas lou only recalled the drive away from wherever it was we stayed with its wonderful views and many campsites. so i started to research once i had established the approximate area we had visited, the herault valley above le vigan.
as usual i took account of various reviews and google earth street view to decide whether a place would suit. boring for some but half the fun for me! 🙂
finally le mouretou at valleraugue at the foot of mont aigoual seemed a good place to base ourselves. so that’s where we went. a five hour drive taking in the millau viaduct and a sarnie stop next to a cornfield full of poppies.
passing through le vigan we didn’t recognise it at all but the scenery was living up to our expectations.
the campsite was easily found and seemed empty at first sight. we picked a lovely big pitch with lots of shade and great views of the surrounding hills.
behind us was the camp pool of which i quickly made use once the tent was up. an hour and a half saw everything in place by which time i really needed to cool off! i explored the site too, discovering that the river, vaunted as a good place for kids to mess about, was actually a bit gloomy as the far bank hung over the shallow water which was splashing over large rocks. a lady was sitting in midstream on a green plastic chair reading a book. i decided i preferred the pool. the rest of the site was rather gloomy too with a lot of undergrowth and trees shading every pitch, good in the summer heat but made me feel a bit claustrophobic.
early to bed and i slept like a log until the cacophony of the dawn chorus woke me up at five thirty. so snug in my cosy bed i just rolled over and slept another couple of hours.
our plan had been to try and walk some of the 4000 steps walk which is a ‘boucle’ of 25km taking in the top of mont aigoual. with very high temperatures lou suggested driving to the top and walking there where the heat wouldn’t be such a problem. so armed with the makings of a picnic we took the beautiful drive upwards,
the road was very twisty and it was a while before we found l’esperou and the higher ski station of prat peyrot. arriving at the summit we were suprised by the strength of the wind. an extra layer of clothing was required! we climbed up to the table d’orientation because it was there and to try and see the mediterranean. we couldn’t. too hazy.
we found the cafe/restaurant and had coffee before going off to explore the various walks. the wind calmed a bit as we went down into the trees. the wealth of flowers and butterflies was amazing. i was interested to note that the type of butterfly changed as we went under the trees.
the brown ones were replaced by much darker ones. the distances you can see from up there are truly amazing but, sadly, the heat haze prevented us seeing the quarter of france written about in the brochure. after an hour of strolling around and taking photos we climbed back up to the top and took lunch in the restaurant. salad with local goat cheese, pelardon, followed by bilberry tart.
after lunch we went to visit the meteo station and its museum. there was a lot of informative stuff but the extreme weather statistics for the mont itself were the most interesting. apparently the winter of 1995/96 had the highest snowfall.
a long brouse in the shop and then we tried to find another route down the mountain but had to double back. l’esperou seemed shut when we reached it so i couldn’t find any info about winter raquette walking. we stopped at the observation point seen on the way up and discovered it was intended for trying to see the mouflon who roam the moutain side. the last time we had read about them was on corsica. as in corsica, we didn’t spot any this time either.
back to the campsite for a snooze and a swim before another lazy evening enjoying the peace and beauty of the campsite views. having chosen the campsite for its restaurant it turned out not to be open when we were there. so it was back to the stock of tinned suppers and spag bol!
the second night i didn’t sleep as well, probably due to sleeping so long the night before. i still managed to sleep through lou getting up for a call of nature and to miss most of the dawn chorus.
a leisurely start to the day as we slowly packed up and sorted stuff back into the car working on the basis it all came out so must all go back in! a couple across from us stopped by to chat, he was french, she was a kiwi so english was mostly spoken. camping tips were swapped and a good suggestion given of where to do raquette walking in the jura.
before we left the area we drove through le vigan, still not recognising where we cycled last time and then found aveze where i spotted the campsite, river and pretty auberge. we’ll be back when the weather isn’t so hot and we can do some proper walking.