A Hike in the Paiolive Forest above the Chassezac Gorge & to the Lost Village of Chastelas
On the morning of the second day we drove up to Les Vans to inspect the Chassezac river. The canoe outfitters told us it was low and scratchy and that it was expected that the river levels would get higher during the week. We had a hiking day on the schedule so we decided that we would hike today and paddle the gorge later in the week.
We found the head of the trail after a short drive and stepped onto the long distance trail called the GR4. This trail cuts across France from the Med to the Atlantic. Of course we were just doing a short section through the Paolive Forest which has some wind eroded Hoodoos and then breaks out above the Chassezac Gorge with some splendid views.
When we looked down we did actually see a couple of canoes on the river. This gave us hope that it wouldn’t be too low when we returned.
After a couple of hours clambering through the forest and scampering along the edge of the gorge we popped out onto the road where Steve was waiting with the minibus. he’d found a spot to have our lunch down by the river a short drive away. before long we were having our picnic lunch in the depths of the gorge.
We were amazed to see that high-wire ropes had been strung out across the gorge and that people were practising high-wire walking. We watched many of them fall, but they were of course wearing safety harnesses. All the same it took strength and doggedness to get back on the wire.
Ed and Steve took the opportunity to cool off by having a swim in the river.
After lunch we took a short drive to the village of Berrias where we stopped at a cafe for drinks. After that it was a short drive to Grospierre to rejoin the GR4 for another hike. This time we whee to visit the abandoned village of Chastelas.
It was a tiring and hot climb to reach the village and I was disappointed not to find the secret spring which is located near here. I did approach some locals – but they were reluctant to tell us about it. I’m determined to find out where it is. Anyway we eventually came to the lost village and wandered around it.
I was probably pushing things too far but then we climbed even higher on the trail to find the small chapel of Notre Dame des Songes. This was a tiring and hot climb. But we did make it. After a brief rest we retraced our steps back down the hill and all the way back to where we had left the minibus. A long hard day on the trail.
We then had a short drive to our hotel near the Pont D’Arc at Vallon Pont D’Arc where we had a short time to relax before a pleasant evening in the restaurant.