2016 Diary

Walking in France: The Canal du Nivernais

The Canal du Nivernais

This year we walked 550 km in 26 days, but we had ten days off in the middle. This was not our original plan.

The trouble began after a week, when Keith’s leg mysteriously swelled up and became a painful red sausage. This put an end to our idea of walking all the way from Burgundy to the beginning of the pilgrim Way of Geneva, and then on to le Puy.

Before this we had walked from Clamecy to Decize, thus completing our tour of the Canal du Nivernais, the first half of which we had done in 2006. The countryside along the canal was flooded after weeks of spring rain, and the rain continued to fall as we walked along.

Walking in France: Starting on the Way of Geneva

Starting on the Way of Geneva

Then we set off along the Lateral Canal of the Loire, but only got as far as Diou before the leg disaster struck.

After a few days of recovery, we caught the train to St-Julien-en-Genevois and followed the Way of Geneva to le Puy without further problems. Because of the train trip, we were ahead of our original schedule, so we took the chance to stay an extra day if we came to a pleasant village.

The walking was generally easy and we made sure of a good camping ground and a good evening meal every day by diverging from the prescribed GR at several places. The weather alternated between extremely hot and bitterly cold, with no happy medium.

The Rhône river, magnificently broad even in its upper reaches, was never far away until we crossed it lower down and went over the watershed into the valley of the Loire at le Puy.

For the statistically-inclined, there is a spreadsheet that gives details of this walk.

Once again we took no commercial maps or guides, and relied wholly on our own ones. Our homemade maps of this year’s walk have much more detail than the Google Map below, and are taken from the French survey map, and can be seen here. The making of these maps is described here. For general information about Maps and Guides, see the page in our Beginner’s Guide.

Although we list the appropriate TOP 100 maps at the beginning of each page of our diary, please note that these are not really adequate unless you are following a GR. We include them only as a general guide.

Our route for this year

The diary has been broken up in to the following sections:

Clamecy to Decize

Decize to Diou

Saint-Julien-en-Genevois to Yenne

Yenne to Beaurepaire

Beaurepaire to Saint-Sauveur-en-Rue

Saint-Sauveur-en-Rue to le Puy-en-Velay

Le Puy-en-Velay to le Puy-en-Velay

To see icons for each night’s accommodation on this map, press the full screen symbol at the top right and then tick the accommodation icon box at the top left. Zoom in on a particular icon to see its precise location. These accommodation icons are also shown on all section maps.

You can also see this map using Google Earth and take a virtual flight along our route.