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The Robert Louis Stevenson Trail - A Walker's guidebook - a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of The Robert Louis Stevenson Trail
3 Oct 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
1st Published
8 Oct 2007
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The Robert Louis Stevenson Trail

by Alan Castle
Book published by Cicerone Press

A guidebook for walking in the footsteps of Stevenson as he travelled through France's Velay and Cevennes regions accompanied by his faithful donkey, Modestine. At 140km, this route is ideal for people new to walking holidays. Starts at Le Puy, finishes at St Jean de Gard. A great route with a historic and literary feel.

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Size: 17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
Weight: 260g

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Early one morning in the autumn of 1878 RLS set out from the sleepy village of Le Monastier-sur-Gazeille with his donkey, Modestine, to traverse the Velay and Cévennes to the small town of Saint-Jean-du-Gard in the south. Robert Louis Stevenson’s account of his 140-mile trek through southern France has long captured the imagination of walkers and lovers of literature alike. Today, the RLS Trail has become a classic route across the hills and along the valleys of this delightful region of rural France.

The route, which is well served by accommodation of all types, is divided into twelve day-stages in the guide, so that the Trail easily fits into a fortnight’s holiday. The book includes details of the facilities for the traveller and places of interest en route, together with a detailed route description and an account of Stevenson’s adventures with Modestine. For those with more time available, trails that link the beginning and end of the route are also described, making it is possible to walk all the way from the historic town of Le Puy to Alés.

Packed with snippets of fascinating information about this historic region, the guide is also of use to cyclists and motorists keen to trace a parallel road route, following in the footsteps of Stevenson and Modestine.

  • Seasons
    Possible throughout the year, although requiring snow skills in winter. Best in spring and autumn, try to avoid July and August.
  • Centres
    Le Puy and St Jean de Gard at each end of the route. Also Florac, Fouzillac, La Bastide-Puylaurent, Pradelles, Le Pont de Montvert
  • Difficulty
    Suitable for a first long-distance walking holiday. Mainly drove roads, bridleways and footpaths. Takes less than two weeks.
  • Must See
    Ancient villages, a sence of history, deep gorges, stunning landcapes.


November 2017

Unfortunately, the cafe in Luc, mentioned on page 105 (RLS Trail, Second Edition) has now closed and so there are now no shops or other places of refreshment on the stage of the trail between Cheylard l'Eveque and la Bastide Puylaurent. Be sure to take sufficient food and drink with you before setting out on Stage 6 of the RLS Trail.

November 2012

Thanks to Jon Sparks for the information below.

Page 118: It was reported in 2012 that there is, once again, a shop (bakery) in Chasseradés.

Page 159: The route has changed a little in the region of Balazuegnes and the new route is well waymarked and easily followed: bear left before Balazuegnes, descend steadily, cross a lane and keep straight ahead to the main road.

Page 167: Shortly before the 'major Y-junction' (1013m), opposite an area of bare rock slabs, are a small menhir and sepulchre, signposted and about 50m from the track.

July 2012

Thanks to Roger Mechan for his information below.

page 72 line 12.  '...cross a road bridge over the river (the Ruisseauds Fouragettes) and ascend the hill for 20 metres. Look out for a track on
the left signposted 'Stevenson Trail' which rises to a level path that snakes through fields for one kilometre to join the tarmac road through the village of Ussel. Turn left here to arrive at a stone cross in the village'.

Page 73 line 13...'just after a stand of pines on your right you will reach a track T-junction; here turn left'.

Page 82  line 19. '....In a further 130 metres, when the track forks, ignore the left turn and continue straight ahead on the wide track. On reaching a barn complex on your right follow the waymarks and swing to the left.'

Page 88 last line bottom of page. '...Turn left to pass a picnic area....

Page 176 line 9 '....eventually dropping to meet the D984. Turn right and follow the waymarked signs along the road to the bridge. Turn left over the bridge.....'

Page 180 line second line up from bottom of the page.'....before the junction with the D260. Shortly after leave the road onto a signposted path that runs alongside the river Gardon. On reaching the bridge turn right and then left on the far side to follow a surfaced track.....'

November 2010

Thanks to Keith Frayn, who walked the Trail in September 2010, for this information supplied to the authors.

Epilogue Part 2, Mialet to Alés

There is now a gîte d’étape at Mazel, very near the Col d'Uglas, and also there are new gîtes d’étape at both Aïgladines and Audibert.


November 2008

The author wishes to thank both Colin James and Andrew West for supplying the following updated information (October 2008) on the RLS Trail.

Page 72, 2nd para, last line: the D49 has been renumbered as the D491.

Page 73, lines 12–19. The route now cuts the corner. The text should now read:

"reach a track T-junction; here turn right and immediately left along an enclosed track, wall on left and wire fence on right, now heading towards Preyssac. Veer right for about 50m when you enter the hamlet..."

Page 81, route description, lines 5-6. The reservoir is on your left, not your right.

Page 84, para 4, last sentence. The route now goes through a tunnel under the
D40, so it is not necessary to cross this potentially busy road.

Page 100, para 3. The area has now been drained and a forest road laid and well

Page 112–113. One hiker has described an alternative route to Notre-Dame-des-Neiges which is about 2km longer, as it contours around the hill, following yellow and white waymarks, rather than taking the more direct over the hill route, described in the guidebook

Page 122, 2nd para. 'L'Elixir bar' has been renamed 'Le Relais de Modestine'.

Pages 135 and 136. There has been a major re-alignment of the route form just after Finiels to Le Pont-de-Montvert. The new route is well waymarked and much easier to navigate than the old trail and follows for the most part a wide track which is fenced on both sides. The trail keeps relatively high and away from the river and enters Le Pont-de-Montvert on the other side of the valley to the museum.

Andrew West has supplied the following description of the route, which replaces the guidebook description on page 135–6, to replace the three paragraphs commencing “At a junction take a left fork..."

“Take the left track and follow for almost 2km to arrive at a tarmaced lane with a farm on the left. Go straight over on an enclosed path to shortly reach another farm. Turn left in front of the farm and pass through a metal gate. Continue on the enclosed path (walled) and across field to another metal gate. The path, now enclosed again, descends to some trees and turns left to another metal gate. Follow path to yet another metal gate. The route now continues above the valley (on left) with Le-Pont-de-Montvert soon coming into view. Descend to the first building and proceed down the steep tarmaced lane towards the village centre veering left towards the humpbacked bridge over the river Tarn.”

Colin James advises that “On nearing the village and after passing a tin bath on the right, look for waymarking on a wall on the left; this ensures that you drop to a lower path to enter Le Pont-de-Montvert”.

Page 164, facilities, at the end of the paragraph:
Note that there is now a short-cut to the campsite that starts from the lower church in the village (signposted with a “walker and tent” waymark). This passes pleasantly through woodland, so that road walking is not necessary to reach the campsite.

Page 176, line 6. The tip has gone!

Epilogue, page 190, route description, 2nd para, line 3:
"...turning right again at a T-junction (insert: water tap here) heading for a second hamlet..."



The Robert Louis Stevenson Trail
Robert Louis Stevenson
‘Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes’
First Half of the Trail: The Massif Central – Velay, Gévaudan and Vivarais
Second Half of the Trail: The Cévennes and Le Parc National Des Cévennes
Climate – When to Go
Travelling to and from the RLS Trail
Public Transport in the Velay and Cévennes
Grandes Randonnées
Waymarking and Navigation
Public Holidays and Time in France
Stevenson's Route by Cycle or by Car
Club Cévenol
Suggested Itineraries for Walking the RLS Trail
How to Use this Guidebook
PROLOGUE Le Puy-en-Velay
Le Puy-en-Velay to Le Monastier-sur-Gazeille
Stage 1 Le Monastier-sur-Gazeille to Goudet
Stage 2 Goudet to Le Bouchet-Saint-Nicolas; Excursion to Lac du Bouchet
Stage 3 Le Bouchet-Saint-Nicolas to Pradelles
Stage 4 Pradelles to Langogne
Stage 5 Langogne to Cheylard-l'Évêque
Stage 6 Cheylard-l'Évêque via Notre-Dame-des-Neiges to La Bastide-Puylaurent
Stage 7 La Bastide-Puylaurent to Les Alpiers/Le Bleymard
Stage 8 Les Alpiers/Le Bleymard to Le Pont-de-Montvert
Stage 9 Le Pont-de-Montvert to Florac
Stage 10 Florac to the Gare de Cassagnas
Stage 11 Gare de Cassagnas to Saint-Germain-de-Calberte
Stage 12 Saint-Germain-de-Calberte to Saint-Jean-du-Gard
EPILOGUE Saint-Jean-du-Gard and Mas Soubeyran, Alès and Nîmes
Walking to Mialet or Alès
Summary Table of Stages
Appendix 1 Gîtes d'étape on or Close to the RLS Trail
Appendix 2 Other Long-Distance Walking Routes Encountered on the RLS Trail
Appendix 3 Stevenson's Itinerary
Appendix 4 Bibliography
Appendix 5 Useful Addresses, Telephone Numbers and Websites
Appendix 6 Modern Treks Along the RLS Trail
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