Walking French history - The Régordane Way

Ales, France Articles

Listing # RA-1156167


Details of Walking French history - The Régordane Way, Ales, France Articles
Details for Walking French history - The Régordane Way

Contributed By Scott Anderson

For those of you with a penchant for themed walking, there are few French-based experiences that can touch the excitement of discovering an ancient and forgotten route. That’s the thrill you get from trekking the Régordane Way from Pradelles in Lozère to Alès on the south-eastern foothills of The Cévennes.

The Régordane is a 100-kilometre section of the historical route that links Paris to Lower Languedoc. It forms approximately half the length of the longer Saint-Gilles Way that runs from Le Puy-en-Velay to Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, a 140-mile walk that was Christendom’s fourth major pilgrimage around the early Middle Ages.

Whilst records first mention the Regordane around the middle of the ninth century, it was the abovementioned pilgrimage that launched it as an important thoroughfare, en route to the tomb of Aegidius in St-Gilles abbey and beyond: as a point of departure for St Jacques de Compostella, the Holy Land (St Gilles was a Mediterranean Port at the time) and Rome.

The Regordane welcomed some illustrious travellers along its course: King St Louis, in 1254, who departed from Aigues-Mortes en route to the Crusades; Simon de Montfort, in order to crush the Cathars after the killing of the Pope’s emissary at St Gilles; and Louis XIV’s armies, sent to crush the Camisards in The Cevennes some 500 years later. Many a destroyed castle and church along the way bear witness to the devastation caused by these last two episodes in French history.

There were many reasons for the gradual demise of the Regordane, perhaps the key one being the eastward expansion of Gaul from 1308, which saw the Rhone Valley supplanting the Regordane Way as France’s main eastern frontier route. Nevertheless, there was a renaissance period during the early industrialisation of the ‘Alèsian Basin,’ as capitalists sought an alternative and faster route to Paris and northern markets for Languedoc’s coal, iron and steel, wine, salt and silk. Eventually, the natural geological fault-line through which the Regordane passes experienced major investments in both road and rail, and once again the original path fell into disrepair or was forgotten.

Your journey commences in Pradelles, a charming, medieval granite town on the volcanic plateau of the southern Massif Central. One of only four remaining pilgrimage “Maladreries” marks the point of departure. They were refuges that comprised a chapel on one side of the road, accommodation on the other, and a raised walkway that straddled the road and linked the two together.

You head south from the town and soon discover the first granite rocks of the sacred path just south of La Ribeyre. Part of the trail that had been lost until recently has been miraculously resuscitated after Pestel. Further on, past Lesperon, you walk the ‘Royal Route’, the name given to the 18th century paved surface. You then wade carefully across two streams and pass though several charming hamlets before arriving in La Bastide and your first overnight stay.

Your second day is a master class in hill-walking as you discover ‘montjoie’ (stone waymarks), dolmen and mule drivers’ cartwheel tracks engraved deeply into the granite rock pavement, testament to the trading importance of this route in bygone times – deep incisions are visible from both the twelfth and thirteen centuries, as well as the eighteenth, distinguishable by the differing wheel gauges of each epoch.

Thereafter the path follows the hill-crest before descending spectacularly into the Chassezac gorge. It resurfaces on the southern bank (several bridges were washed away by torrents) and heads due south across volcanic plateau into the spectacular scenery of the Gorge and the medieval village of Garde-Guerin, perched beside its steep slopes.

You are likely to catch your first site of other, ‘local walkers’ here, before you continue southwards on the remarkable ‘Bayard coast’ path to Villefort, past lake, magnificent stone railway viaduct and over dam - all under the watchful eye of Mont Lozère, the region’s most imposing mountain.

On day three, you follow the important fault-line down through low-lying Villefort, pass the source of the River Cèze and experience a change of vegetation with the presence of the Cevennes’ first green oak trees. You alternate between ancient trail and tarmac route, as you descend the valley through linear settlements towards the Huguenot stronghold of Genolhac and its mercantilist ‘Grande Rue.’

Your fourth day’s trekking takes you over the Cèze via the Pont du Mas, where the local Protestant ‘Camisard’ chief was shot in 1710. You continue through the countryside of the Cevennes' most famous writer, J-P Chabrol; pass the impressive industrial architecture of the stone viaduct at Chamborigaud; and arrive at the site of Portes Castle, whose strategic importance as the north-eastern tollgate for The Cevennes is for all to be seen.

The final day sees you descend along the watershed between the Ceze and the Gardon valleys, through villages and hamlets to the industrial heartland of The Cevennes, Alès. Your walk across the enormous open caste mine en route is a salutary reminder of the region’s industrial heritage that sadly destroyed the original path taken by The Regordane. The local tourist board plan to resuscitate it as part of a larger tourist project. Such plans are met with a certain cynicism by the local walking fraternity.

Arrival at Mas Dieu, ‘God’s House,’ saw the pilgrim or merchant leaving the chestnut, oak and pine of the Cevennes mountains and arriving at the fringes of the Garrigues and it’s unmistakably Mediterranean fauna of vine, olive and fig tree.

Walking south from Pradelles along this ancient path fills you with innumerable conflicting emotions. You commence your journey on ancient tracks and the paved ‘Royal Route’ across the splendid isolation of a granite volcanic plateau, where the only signs of human life are those of the occasional farmhand. You stumble upon your first sizeable settlement only at the end of your second day’s walking.

The dissected valley into which you plunge on Day Three is replete with the history and vestiges of France; from Roman times, through to the upheavals of the Camisard Uprising (The Cevennes own bitter chapter of the Wars of Religion) and onwards until the height of the Industrial Revolution. The linear settlements have seen no growth since. On the contrary, most have stagnated due to industrial decline and rural exodus and remain ossified in the architecture of a bygone era. It is not until you arrive at the edge of Alès that you discover what the whole ‘Idea of Progress’ was supposed to be about.

In this practical-French-history-lesson-par-excellence, you learn what it must have been like to travel on the crude surfaces of the Middle Ages, be it alone as a pilgrim, accompanied by mule and laden cart or eventually on horse back. The closer you get to modernity, the more frequently you find yourself walking on macadamised road, as ancient path has transformed itself into modern artery. Such are the ineluctable forces of human advancement. However, whether on granite path, schist stone or tarmac, the authenticity of this heritage hike is never compromised. Moreover, as modern road building has chosen to reduce the steepness of ancient slopes by the use of winding roads, the straight and southern-bound Regordane is often found parallel to, or dissecting, the main roads of today.

The story chronicled by the Regordane provides a rich and fascinating insight into the origins of Modern France. The tale so far has taken over twelve centuries to write. You can get the gist of the novel from a five-day trek, but expect to find yourself researching something that has captured your interest in a library or bookshop near you upon your return.

© Walking in Languedoc 2007



Contributed By Scott Anderson

Scott Anderson lives on The Regordane and is the director of Walking in Languedoc (www.walking-languedoc.com). He started Regordane Info (www.regordane.info) to help preserve the trail for his children and their children to walk upon in the future.



Listing Reviews Reviews of Walking French history - The Régordane Way

No reviews yet, be the first to write a review for this listing.


Map & Contact Info - Walking French history - The Régordane Way


Interactive Map for Walking French history - The Régordane Way
Scott Anderson
Walking French history - The Régordane Way
Ales, France

Website: Home Page

  View Interactive Map









impressions Listing Impressions


Who do you think this listing would appeal most to?

Ideal For
 
Couples
0 votes
 
Family
0 votes
 
Groups
0 votes
 
Senior
0 votes
 
Solo
0 votes
 
Students
0 votes
Style & Spirit
 
Active
0 votes
 
Adventurous
0 votes
 
Educational
0 votes
 
Inspiring
0 votes
 
Party
0 votes
 
Relaxing
0 votes
 
Romantic
0 votes

Similar Listings You May Be Interested In

Accommodations in France | View More...

There is a little bit of magic in the Cabardes

There is a little bit of magic in the Cabardes
Languedoc Roussillon, France Bed & Breakfasts
20 mins from Carcassonne with La Cite, le Canal du Midi and Mazamet, relax in a medieval house, 5 beautiful bedrooms, in a peaceful Black Mountain village; an unspoilt area; stunning scenery, historic Cather castles, forest walks, markets, vineyards....
Starting from 60 Per Night

Charming studio in Cannes, Croisette

Charming studio in Cannes, Croisette
Cannes, France Vacation Rentals
The studio is about 25 m², located in Miramar a charming building from the beginning of the century. Recently renovated in 2011, in a quiet neighborhood on the famous Croisette near to Cannes Palace. The studio is equipped with air conditioning, fu...
Starting at 90 Per Night

Warm irish welcime in rural France

Warm irish welcime in rural France
Poitou Charente, France Bed & Breakfasts
Set just outside the small market town of Lezay we are a small chambre d'hote of 2 bedrooms. We can offer evening meals at €18 for 4 courses set menu with wine. Our large garden has plenty of loungers and we also have a guest lounge and a games roo...
From 50 Per Night


Activities, Adventures & Tours in Languedoc Roussillon | View More...

Bike Tours in France with In Situ Travel

Bike Tours in France with In Situ Travel
Rhone Alps, France Bike Tours
Challenging Cycling Tours Designed By Cyclists, For Cyclists. We cater to the avid bike rider who wants to explore some of best routes in Europe....
Starting at $2,790 Per Person

Alpine Adventure West with 7 Nights in France

Alpine Adventure West with 7 Nights in France
Abancourt, France Motorcycle Tours
A 2 week tour of the French Alps & Germany's Black Forest, where a van carries all your luggage, BMW motorcycles are furnished, and you are free to ride at your own pace on your own route!...
Rates from $7,953 Per Person

France: Bordeaux to Carcassonne Canal Bike

France: Bordeaux to Carcassonne Canal Bike
Bordeaux, France Bike Tours
Freewheeling Adventures invites you on this eight day, seven night tour. Flat cycling on paved and unpaved canal-side paths and quiet roads, mainly traffic-free....
Starting at 3,255 Per Person


Personal Growth in France | View More...

French Language Immersion

French Language Immersion
Languedoc Roussillon, France Language Schools
In our language school in the south of France,in Argelès sur mer, near the spanish border you'll find a wide variety of programs:intensive courses, one to one tuition,lessons duo and lessons by phone.We tailor make packages that suit you....
Starting at 225 Per Week

Yoga, Spa and Couples retreats in France

Yoga, Spa and Couples retreats in France
Limoges, France Yoga
In Touch, a moving spa vacation offers you Yoga, spa and couples retreats in the beautiful Limousin region of France....
Starting at 300 Per Event

Surf & Yoga

Surf & Yoga
Achenheim, France Yoga
At Pura Vida Lodge, we believe that Yoga can improve the strength, flexibility and balance in the mind and the body which will be helpful for your surf skills. We organise our annual “Surf & Yoga” weeks from 14-21 June ’14 and from 20-27 Sep ...
Starting at 485 Per Week


Tours in France | View More...

Luxury travel on the French Riviera

Luxury travel on the French Riviera
Riviera, France Sight-Seeing Tours
Riviera Premium Services is specialised in tailor made luxury journeys on the French Riviera, executive concierge services, property management....


Advertise Your Accommodation or Travel Services


Create A ListingGreat Vacations & Exciting Destinations Listing
Add a full-page listing promoting your accommodations, tours or travel services to customers on our network of travel sites. Your listing page can have up to 26 images, unlimited text, interactive map, availability calendar, ecards, photo-gallery and more.
Rates From US $17 Per Month    » View Details

» See Link Codes
Link Codes - Add This Listing To Your Site

Add this listing to your website, CraigsList, FaceBook, MySpace or blog.

Walking French history - The Régordane Way
RealAdventures
Walking French history - The Régordane Way
Ales, France Articles
For those of you with a penchant for themed walking, there are few French-based experiences that can touch the excitement of discovering an ancient and forgotten route. That’s the thrill you get from trekking the Régordane Way...

Great rates & deals!

>>

Ales, France Articles | France Articles | France Vacations | Ales, France
Articles | Articles France
Link Code


Scott Anderson
Walking French history - The Régordane Way
Ales, France

Website: Home Page

Current Search





Disclaimer: Information provided through RealAdventures website, newsletters, emails or other services has been provided directly by the companies and/or individuals owning or offering the products/services. RealAdventures does not guarantee or warranty the accuracy of the information contained herein. It is the sole responsibility of the user to ensure the accuracy and clarity of any posted material and to determine the suitability of any service for their particular needs or requirements. Likewise, it is the responsibility of advertisers to determine the suitability and credit worthiness of potential customers prior to any transaction.
/listings/1156167_Walking-French-history-The-R-gordane-Way?Source=RSS