Time Travel: Spring 2014 – Hiking the Gorges du Verdon

I’ve sung the praises of France’s wonderful network of hiking trails before– it’s one of the things I miss most about living there. But I haven’t yet shared the five days I spent on one of the most glorious of those paths: the GR4, through the Gorges du Verdon in southeastern France. Le throwback… Sometimes…

Day Hike: Tournon-sur-Rhône Loop

The first thing I saw when I got off the train in Tain was green-and-beige-patterned hillside, vineyards under blue May skies. “Drink ya later,” I thought, and walked into town. I passed store fronts selling the same grapes in red wine form and crossed a bridge into Tournon-sur-Rhône, another pretty little town dominated by a historic…

Day Hike: Marseille to Cassis Along the Calanques

It’s never been easy for me to say good-bye to summer. A creature of the sun who had the poor luck to grow up in the snowy northeastern United States, I spent my first twenty-three winters hiding inside and eating pastries, one step up from a hibernating bear. I get stir-crazy when the weather gets cold, because…

Day Hike: Lacs de la Pra

I’m so fresh off this hike that the soreness hasn’t fully hit me yet (“it will,” hiss my vindictive knees and hips in menacing whispers, “it will”), but I wanted to get this post up before the cold really settles into the mountains. The Lacs de la Pra are a smattering of tiny lakes in the Belledonne mountain…

Day Hike: Rochetaillée and the Gouffre d’Enfer

Venturing out to Saint-Etienne, a small city about 45 minutes south of Lyon, you’ll notice that the beret quotient skyrockets – every third guy seems to be about 65 years old and wearing one. The city is quiet, its horizon dominated by two slag heaps in an enduring reminder of its has-been mining town status. It’s also at the…

Losing the Trail in France

Walking is a national pastime in France. After a big Sunday lunch, families often go on late afternoon strolls together around their neighborhoods or along part of one of the hiking paths that vein the country. Many of the hiking paths pinball through residential areas and skirt private property, a fact that has complicated almost…