Author Topic: Hiking the GR65, then onto the GR6. A good choice?  (Read 1235 times)

youradvocate

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After a few days of finding it difficult to build up the enthusiasm for an August 2016 hike I think I have decided (unless I change my mind again) to have a go at hiking the GR65 from Le Puy en Velay to Figeac and the hop over to the GR6 from Figeac to Bergerac in August. My first idea was to hike the GR5 but the idea of facing the pesky sheep dogs en route for me, is a putter offer!

The GR65 more or less follows the old Pilgrim routes to St. Pied de Port in the Pyrenees and once on the GR6 this route goes through the Dordogne towards Bordeaux.

My intial idea is to catch the ferry from Portsmouth (just up the road from me) to Le Harve and then train or coach it to Clermont Ferrand and then by bus or train to Le Puy. I hiked the Stevenson Trail (GR70) a couple of years ago from Le Puy, I caught a coach from London Victoria to Lyon then a train to Le Puy, so this is an alternative route. At the end I could then just catch a bus or train from Bergerac to Bordeaux and then decide as to how to get home, hopefully the quick way by plane to Gatwick?

Any knowledge of any of these routes from Walking Forum people would be greatly appreciated.

1st setback, I just checked, the ferry from Portsmouth to Le Harve is fully booked on the day/week I was thinking about. I'll worry about this later as I am now off to the pub!


altirando

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Re: Hiking the GR65, then onto the GR6. A good choice?
« Reply #1 on: 13:15:29, 21/07/16 »
I think you would find this trail very very hot any time before September.  Know what you mean about sheep dogs though.  A friend of mine was suddenly attacked, bitten on leg.  Have you thought about the GR54, higher level circuit in the alps?

youradvocate

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Re: Hiking the GR65, then onto the GR6. A good choice?
« Reply #2 on: 15:45:47, 25/07/16 »
I finally made my mind up to hike! I am catching the 23.00hrs Newhaven to Dieppe ferry as a foot passenger (20) on 27th July then by SNCF train to Clermont Ferrand, arrive at about 16.30hrs the next day, total cost of travel 86.00, plus an unknown cost as yet from there to Le Puy. The SNCF site is so easy to use!

My plan is to hike the 'Way of St. James' from Le Puy en Velay (also the start of the Stevenson Way along the GR70) on the GR65 towards the Pyrenees then to branch off on the GR6 towards Bordeaux. Once done, I will catch a train to Le Havre, catch the ferry to Portsmouth and then I'm home. I'm looking forward to strolling through the Dordogne region.

Maybe not the best of times to go (Nice, etc) but its pointless waiting for a problem to ease which I am sure will still be around long after I'm dead.

youradvocate

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Re: Hiking the GR65, then onto the GR6. A good choice?
« Reply #3 on: 18:39:46, 09/08/16 »
Just returned from my hike, I started at Le Puy en Velay. The GR65 follows well worn tracks dating back centuries I believe, symbols of religeon everywhere!  I really enjoyed it, didn't need to look at a map once, it was so well signposted. Only one small area where I had to walk among cows. I only met French, Dutch, Germans and two Americans (one was running all the way to Spain) and the hospitality shown to me was wonderful, everyone on route was so friendly. I misjudge the hiking distance a bit, I only had two weeks, and at Espalion first hitchiked (6th car) to Rodez and then by train to Figeac (10 Euroes, cheap for me)  to join the GR6 en route to Bordeaux. I now met English people and they were fun as well. Eventually I hiked into Rocamadour, interesting place, the main street is SO steep! Hiked on to Sarlat, an old town, narrow streets but a mad, mad, tourist spot. Traffic jams, people mooching around, just shopping, eating, drinking and looking bored out of their brains. Made my way to Bergerac, tried to find a camp site but in the end was so hungry I prioritised eating first. Slept the night on a three seat bench in a narrow street in the shadow of two trees. Next morning caught the train to Bordeaux, on to the airport and was home at 4.pm today. I would certainly recommend it, especially the Dordogne region.

ninthace

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Re: Hiking the GR65, then onto the GR6. A good choice?
« Reply #4 on: 20:41:28, 09/08/16 »
Take your point about tourist numbers. The French have very regulated holidays and tend to stay in France. As a result, all tourist areas are rammed from July to 3rd week in August and are best avoided. For example, Rocamadour is one of the main tourist sites in France and has a population of thousands in season whereas the winter population is around 40. The hotels close in September and do not open again until Easter. This for a site second only the Mont St Michel. Don't get me started about Dordogneshire.
Solvitur Ambulando

youradvocate

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Re: Hiking the GR65, then onto the GR6. A good choice?
« Reply #5 on: 10:58:01, 10/08/16 »
I do not know how to explain it adequetly but I am sure that in some areas of France, if you have the right attitude of mind you can enjoy a fantastic and fullfilled quality of life, that is of course if you knew what the criteria was is in the first place. Even many French people I think, do not understand it themselves, but for those people who are not so 'materialistic crazy' these areas seem to offer so much in so many ways. I think perhaps this is why so many UK people have moved to the Dordogne in particular, well I'd like to think so anyway.

I also believe I hiked in a heat wave! I saw a few clouds but not many, in the mornings the sky was such a vivid blue. It rained once during the night never in the day. The worst aspect of this walk for me was that smoking is still highly valued, especially with the young. They seemed to be always lighting up (they can't smoke inside) and I found it to be a blight to an enjoyable outside evening meal, smoke waffling all over the place. The sound of so many smokers coughing at the meal table was just ugly and very depressing! Just me maybe, but the lowest of the low is to watch young bronzed beautiful people getting out their 'Old Holborn' pack and making a roll-up! Yuk!

I was a bit early in the month but if I had started my hike towards the end of August the opportunities for eating fruit and even raw veg from the hedgerows 'on the go' would have been so much fun. So many plums, damsons, rasperries, grapes, apples, apricots, chestnuts all were there just wainting to be scrumped but for me they were just not ready.

Before this hike I had a real down period but now I feel great again.

Islandplodder

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Re: Hiking the GR65, then onto the GR6. A good choice?
« Reply #6 on: 11:22:33, 10/08/16 »
It sounds a really nice walk.  I did the Robert Louis Stevenson trail a couple of months ago, my first long distance trail abroad, and really enjoyed it; sun and French food made a nice change from wind rain and chips on the Pennine Way and I am looking for another one for next year.  How different from the RLS trail is the Pilgrim route?  there were a few people setting off on it from our hotel in Le Puy, and we wondered what it was like.  Quite fancy the Dordogne though.

youradvocate

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Re: Hiking the GR65, then onto the GR6. A good choice?
« Reply #7 on: 12:11:24, 10/08/16 »
I also did the Stevenson Way and also enjoyed it very much, especially because I could refer to the book on my Ipad mini at anytime. The GR65 is very similar, footpath styles, hills, landscape villages and so on. It only changed when I approached Figeac and beyond. From then on there seemed to be a lot more steeper ups and downs and denser woodland, it was a nice contrast.

Like on the Stevenson route, I found the people to be wonderfully hospitible and were always wanting to have a go at speaking English. I loved the 'ceremony' en-route regarding the local mash potato and cheese, lots of stirring and arm florishing with the big spoon combined with a liberal supply of rouge to drink when the chefs arm started to tire.

I had a go in one of the community meals I shared. My arm really ached but the locals and the other French visitors encouraged me to keep stirring until I could do no more. Once finished I got a big cheer AND another glass of wine! The patron of the restaurant let me camp the night in his garden for free and woke me at my tent with a black coffee and a pain-au-chocolate first thing in the morning. A very nice man! He also suggested I should read 'The Road' by Kerovac and I will do so in a few days.

glovepuppet

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Re: Hiking the GR65, then onto the GR6. A good choice?
« Reply #8 on: 19:02:26, 12/12/16 »
We walked the route from Le Puy to Conques in the summer, and will be back again for more next year. Really enjoyed it - much quieter and different to the Camino it connects with in St Jean in the Pyrenees.


The food was great, the countryside varied and the locals really supportive and informative - nothing like the anti-Brit feeling some would have us believe existed - and all we met (apart from one) were stunned and disappointed about the Brexit result which had happened the day we started.


TBH, I can't wait to be out there again!  :D