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A guidebook to mountain biking, cycling or walking the 700km GTMC, Grande Traversée du Massif Central, in southern France, from Clermont-Ferrand in the Auvergne to Montpellier and Sête on the Mediterranean. The long-distance route is described in stages for walkers, and mountain bikers, with on road alternatives for road cyclists.
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Mountain Biking – This guidebook divides the Grand Traverse of the Massif Central (GTMC) into 17 stages, each of which the average mountain biker should accomplish in a day. Those who wish to sample only a section of the GTMC can do so by making use of the railway stations en route.
Road Cycling – A traverse of the Massif Central, following the line of the GTMC very approximately, can also be made by road cyclists. This visits all the major places through which the GTMC passes, but keeps to roads – for the most part relatively quiet ones. Such a road route would probably take the average cyclist somewhere between 8 and 12 days.
Walking – The Grand Traverse of the Massif Central not only makes an excellent off-road mountain bike trail, but as such a high percentage of it is off-road, and much of that along numerous GR Trails, it also provides a first-rate long-distance walking route across the region.
The walking is generally straightforward, suitable for most reasonably fit people. A traverse of the full route on foot would typically take from 27 to 32 days. Alternatively, the railway network easily allows one-, two- or three-week walking holidays to be planned.
Thanks to Elizabeth Dyson for the following updates:
The gîte d'étape at Chaumiane (Stage 3) is very basic and there is no food
available, although it does have gas rings (bring your own matches). There is
also no shop in the nearby village of Compains.
In the woods just past Le Sauvage (Stage 7) some of the signs are missing
on crucial turnings. But with very careful attention to the Chamina map it is
possible to navigate through. At the end of the stage at Le Giraldes there
is a chambre d'hôtes as well as a gîte d'étape. The chambre d'hôtes was reported to be a
lovely place to stay, with dinner provided by the hosts.
Bagnols-les-Bains (Stage 8) has a shop and a boulangerie.
Camprieu (Stage 12) has a good small supermarket.
If you have run out of supplies on Stage 14, then it is just a short detour
to Le Caylar where there are shops (including a supermarket), boulangeries,
On Stage 17 you are technically not allowed to cycle alongside the canal
from Palavas-les-Flots to Frontignan. However, most people seem to ignore this and it is rare for cyclists to be challenged.
|A Long Distance Mountain Bike Trail|
|A GTMC for Road Cyclists|
|Walking the GTMC|
|Climate – When to Go|
|Supported or Unsupported|
|Travelling to and from the Region|
|Food and Water|
|Public Holidays and Time|
|Using this Guidebook|
|Stage 1 Clermont-Ferrand to Laschamp|
|Stage 2 Laschamp to Murol|
|Stage 3 Murol to La Godivelle|
|Stage 4 La Godivelle to Allanche|
|Stage 5 Allanche to Saint-Flour|
|Stage 6 Saint-Flour to Paulhac-en-Margeride|
|Stage 7 Paulhac-en-Margeride to Le Giraldès|
|Stage 8 Le Giraldès to Bagnols-les-Bains|
|Stage 9 Bagnols-les-Bains to Le Pont-de-Montvert|
|Stage 10 Le Pont-de-Montvert to Sainte-Énimie|
|Stage 11 Sainte-Énimie to Cabrillac|
|Stage 12 Cabrillac to Dourbies|
|Stage 13 Dourbies to La Couvertoirade|
|Stage 14 La Couvertoirade to La Vacquerie et St-Martin-de-Castries|
|Stage 15 La Vacquerie et St-Martin-de-Castries to Saint-Jean-de-Fos|
|Stage 16 Saint-Jean-de-Fos to Montpellier|
|Stage 17 Montpellier to Sète|
|Appendix A Stage Maps for the Road Bike Alternative|
|Appendix B Route Summary Table|
|Appendix C Budget Accommodation along the GTMC|
|Appendix D Other Long Distance Trails along the GTMC|
|Appendix E Further Reading|
|Appendix F Useful Contacts|