Sunday June 5th Vallons Pont D'Arc to Saint-Martin d'Ardeche

Walking alone again today as Christine has gone back to England. Great to have such a slug of time together and it has propelled me half way across France. In fact in every way I'm now well into the second half of walk. Tomorrow I should cross the Rhone and in preparation for the trip through Vercours. For the next two months I'll be working my way around and through the Alps.

Christine has been really unlucky with the weather and waterproofs have been regular wear for the last five days. We were told that the Ardeche gets five days of rain a year so this solid wet spell is exceptional.

I do need some sustained sunny weather. Current conditions make it hard to get things dry and some of my clothing is getting a bit down at heal. Apparently I carry a slight damp dog smell with me but the main culprit seems to have been my hat which hadn't been washed since Spain. My shoes however are in a bad way and have been damp/wet for days. Not pleasant room mates.

No big turnaround in the weather today. Was drizzling when I left Christine at 8.45 and a thunder storm started at 9.30 and lasted for two hours. I have a really good Berghaus waterproof jacket but the trousers are too lightweight for their own good and it wasn't for large quantities of gaffer tape would have fallen apart a long time ago. By the time the rained eased off my lower half, as usual, was damp to wet.

Maybe it was my mood but the walk felt a bit monotonous. After leaving Vallons Pont D'Arc, and rejoining the GR4 at Salavas (where there was a more convenient hotel than the one we ended up staying in last night across the river), the route took you through endless little holiday homes which were full of French people trying to work out what to do in the rain. After that it was forest of evergreen oak, nice trails but with no real views (not that you would have been able to see very far). The journey was broken by the very pretty village Labastide de Virac but after that it was into the forest again. By now it had stopped raining and I was listening to the Archers omnibus. I didn't notice that I was on the wrong GR4 variant until I had gone quite a long way south but managed to find an alternative route to the right path.

Of course the deviation might have meant that I missed some brilliant views of the Gorge d'Ardeche as the route was quite close to it for much of the time. As it was I didn't see the gorge until I got to Aigueze which is very close to Saint-Martin d'Ardeche. The cliffs must have been well over 100 feet high but you could still see the fish in the river. Could definitely make out, as a different shade of of grey, Mount Ventoux, which looks enormous, my route takes me further north so I won't have the pleasure of trudging up it.

Got to the hotel by four, 28 kilometres (you do travel faster walking alone), it was raining again by 5.30.


  1. According to Mum your stench is really quite pungent. You need to get to a laundry Dad! Wash and dry everything properly.

    Weather is crap in England too at the moment if it makes you feel any better...

  2. Sorry, but you missed quite some spectacular stuff on that day. The stretch between Salavas and Aigueze can be amazing - if the whether is good and you are in for some detours.
    Just after Salavas it would have been best to say good bye to the E4 for a couple of hours and to head right along the river in the heart of the canyon. The path is very narrow and steep, but it still is a path. There is some light climbing involved and at some point you even need to scramble through a narrow cave. Eventually you would have arrived at the Pont d'Arc - the amazing stone arc across the river. Not far afterwards a steep path leads you out of the canyon where you join the E4 again just north of Labastide de Virac. I discovered this variant in the region's topo-guide which was really worth its money. Also later on, between Labastide and Aigueze, it is worth to risk some detours to get closer to the canyon. The views are amazing.
    To cheer you up: Reading your travel journal, I also come across quite some stuff that I have missed myself.