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Traveller’s Tale: Along the Most Beautiful Villages in France

traveller review on walking in France with Sherpa Expeditions

 

Since he was in his teens, Charles Hawes has been walking for fun. In recent years, he has re-discovered the pleasure of walking and Charles calls himself fortunate in having the Brecon Beacons and Wye Valley on his doorstep in south Wales. “I especially enjoy the rhythm of a good day’s walk (10-12 miles) to get to a new place, staying a night at a pub or Bed and Breakfast and then walking on. I completed the 870-miles Wales Coast path this way over nearly three years,” he recalls. According to Charles, perhaps the most enjoyable way of completing a long-distance walk, is to have all one’s creature comforts transported for you and to walk with a light day pack. That is how he did 10 days on The Way of St James in France with Sherpa and most recently how he did our circular walk along some of the most beautiful villages in France (Medieval France: Tarn and Aveyron). The latter is what Charles shares his memories on after coming back from the trip in early October.

 

Why did you choose to walk in France’s Tarn & Aveyron region?

I was introduced to France as a child and have loved it ever since. In my teens I hitch-hiked through the country, picking apples in the Loire. I love the language (though speak it badly), the food, the countryside with the typical French villages and the culture.

 

walk in the most beautiful villages in france - sherpa expeditions

 

traveller review of walking in the most beautiful villages in France - Sherpa walking holidays

 

How did you prepare for this walk in France?

I had been suffering from a bad back so I did daily strengthening exercises ahead of the trip. I also found a great app for my smartphone, which is called DuoLingo. A few weeks before the trip departed, I did half an hour of French lessons each day – it certainly made a difference.

 

What was your favourite or most beautiful village in France’s Aveyron region?

My favourite place must be Puycelci. We arrived at lunchtime on a sunny day with nothing better to do than have an omelette and frites and a cool beer and enjoy the views.

 

Best French food and drink on this walk?

Without question the best food I had was at the wonderful chambre d’hôte a little outside the village of Vaour. Our host, Nathalie, is married to a chef who trained under one of the Roux brothers. A tomato flan was followed by steaks from her brother’s herd of Aubrac cattle, a wonderful cheeseboard and a simple apple and pear pudding. And needless to say, a local French wine.

 

walking in france with sherpa expeditions walking holidays

 

most beautiful villages in france - sherpa walking holidays

 

What was your biggest surprise on this walking holiday?

From time to time we saw wild colchicums (autumn crocus) growing along the paths. I knew about these plants before and asked a passing lady what they were called in French. The word is the same, but she then sang me a little song about the flower!

 

What aspect of this walk in the Aveyron region did you find most challenging?

I think the hardest climb was after a leisurely visit we made to the extraordinarily pretty village and castle at Penne. That pull up the hill opposite felt unrelenting. It wasn’t really; we had just relaxed in this beautiful French village just a bit too much!

 

Do you have any advice for travellers thinking about walking the Medieval France: Tarn & Aveyron trip?

Pay careful attention to the written notes you are given ahead of your trip, carry plenty of water, don’t be in a rush.

 

Our walking holiday along some of the most beautiful villages in France departs on any day you like during the European spring, summer and autumn months from May until the end of September. To learn more about the walk that Charles and his friend took, have a look at the full description of Medieval France: Tarn and Aveyron, or as always, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or write an email to our team of travel experts in the London office


 

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