2019 Diary

Walking in France: Beside the Sioule after the rain
Beside the Sioule after the rain

This walk took 15 days and we covered 350 km, a much shorter expedition than we had planned, but one full of variety and interest.

The aim this year was to traverse the elevated rural area of the Auvergne in the central massif of France, the ancient home of the Gaulish tribe of the Arverni.

This was the tribe of the young general Vercingetorix, who was entrusted with the Gauls’ final failed stand against the Romans in 52 BC.

On our walk we followed a lovely little river called the Sioule upstream for a few days, then crossed the watershed and began descending into the valley of the Dordogne, taking a tortuous route through the hills and across the plateau of the Xaintrie before arriving at the Dordogne itself.

Walking in France: Climbing up from Jaleyrac
Climbing up from Jaleyrac

As we arrived at the river, the weather changed abruptly from cold and damp to searingly hot, with the highest temperatures ever recorded in France.

We tried twice to continue, but in the end we had to admit that it was not possible to keep walking in over forty degrees of heat, with no change of weather in sight.

Arriving at Figeac, we managed to change our flight times and escape to wintry Australia, bringing our adventure for 2019 to a sudden end.

Walking in France: St-Céré, a town of very happy memories
St-Céré, a town of very happy memories

We had finished less than half of our planned 35-day walk, but luckily we had done the most important part, the great crossing of the Auvergne.

The second part – from Figeac to the Aveyron river, then through Montaubon to the Canal du Midi and on to Agen – would have to wait for another year.

The start of this year's last walking day, although we did not know it at the time.
The start of this year’s last walking day, although we did not know it at the time.

A quick visual summary of this walk can be seen in the yearly photo album. For the statistically inclined, there is also a spreadsheet that gives details of distances, costs etc. We no longer use commercial maps – our home-made maps have much more detail than the Google Map below.

We made them using the online IGN TOP 25 map, and our overall route can be seen here, superimposed on the IGN map. For those who are interested, there is a description of how we make these maps. There is also a lot of very useful information about maps and guides in our Beginner’s Guide.

Our route for this year

The diary has been broken up into the following sections:

Gannat to Giat

Giat to Saignes

Saignes to Argentat-sur-Dordogne

Argentat-sur-Dordogne to Lacapelle-Marival

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.

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