Video

On June 7, 2013, in the Salle du Pays du Vigan, some fifty people were able to discover a short video on the Chemin de Saint Guilhem. Roger CARRON, a member of the association, spent about sixty hours making this film from aerial shots he recorded himself and from photographs. For about 25 minutes, accompanied by classical music, the virtual overview of the territories allowed us to visualise the itinerary and the performance of Roger Carron was very much appreciated by the public present. The flyover of the gorges du Tarn, in particular, was impressive, as was the cirque de Navacelles. We can only be admirative of Roger’s voluntary initiative and his multiple talents, as much photographic as informative.
Martine Carron, his companion, exhibited his work on the Chemin de St Guilhem This is a photo documentary, presented in a luxurious edition, of the Chemin de St Guilhem.
Armelle Nouaille, whom we had already enjoyed during a previous event at l’Espérou in 2011, read with great talent and emotion texts from local literature or authors, relating to homelessness or to wandering. A kind of glorification of walking in some way. The readings and the reader were much applauded. (The Road to Blue Amber) – Wikipedia (history of the march – rearranged extracts) – JM Costeja (The Emperor) – Gilbert Vieillerobe Man lost – extract) – P. Muller (loneliness)].
The account written by JM Costeja was brought alive intensely by Armelle’s acting skills. A terrible storm of September 1887, close to the peat bog of Montals, in which lightning struck a whole herd, except for the shepherd and a lamb born on the migration road which he was carrying on his back. The name remains of this road of the cemetery, but present day visitors are unaware of the exact etymology of this cemetery of sheep and this terrible story is reported by a “phantom, a soul in pain, someone cursed” who frequent these places since that time, especially on stormy evenings.

A light version of the video will soon be available on our website.
This very friendly evening ended around a glass of friendship with many fruitful exchanges between all the participants.

NB: Martine Carron’s book and the CD are available to order – Please contact the association.
The texts read during this evening are offered below.
Good reading

The Lost Man – by J.M. Costeja (local author)
A man lost in a storm meets an old man dressed in a strange hood, who carries a dull lantern …
– Sir … You will never light a fire in this storm, I have not even tried …
“You are right,” interrupted the old man, leaving his interlocutor open-mouthed.
When they had prepared a small bunch of soggy branches, the hiker wanted to laugh, no one could light a fire with such a wood. The old man sat down in front of the rock, put a little pile of lichen on the ground, and two or three pinecones closed up by the rain, then he took a shapeless thing that looked like chewing tobacco, out of his pocket and cut a piece of it with his horn handled pocket knife.
You see, I did this with old tongues of beef, you had to hammer them for a long time with the mallet to soften them and then make them dry and soak them in saltpetre, it is very effective … a firebrand. He pulled out a cigarette lighter which gave off up a strong smell of oil. He tapped the lighter two or three times before the spark turned into a flame, placed the tinder in the center of the lichens and added tiny twigs. The flame was very red, the smoke very black but it was starting to work … Now a little bigger and it takes off!
The wet wood dried quickly enough under the flame and caught fire in its turn.
That’s extraordinary! Exclaimed the man, excuse me for before, but I sincerely believed that you would not succeed. I know said the other, but your troubles are not over!
The old man extinguished his lantern and stirred a little to sit more comfortably, his large, folded legs gave him the look of a cricket. He began to tell a story : It was a beautiful day that began on September 7, 1887, the sheep were gathered on the meadows of the Esperou, they were as far as the eye could see. At that time all the flocks of the plain were near the Aigoual, thousands of beasts from Saint Martin, the Bassin de Thau and even from Arles. They had been taken to Esperou for late summer migration. We, were a dozen shepherds and we almost wondered why we had to leave the high ground. It was still beautiful, there had been some thunderstorms at the end of August but nothing terrible, just enough to turn the grass a little green. The night had been superb, one of those calm summer nights when, looking at the sky, the stars, one might believe in God, where one thinks, trembling about the one we love, because we shepherds, the shepherds of the past, always loved a daughter of the plains, the most beautiful, in secret, but often on our return from the summer, she had a fiance.
In the morning at dawn, the first two shepherds left with the leading animals, they were decorated with large coloured pompoms, the tracks were filled like a flooding river flowing with a murmur of bells. They had almost reached the Col de la Luzette, and we had barely left the fields. I was in the midst of the great flock and I was carrying a lamb that could no longer walk, leaving it there, would be to condemn it to death, so I wore it with my backpack(musette), it wasn’t too heavy for me, I was sturdy at the time. We thought we would stop for the night at the top of Puech Arnal, where there were shelters for the night and the possibility to pen the animals properly. The distribution of the sheep was made lower, the owners came to recover them or sent their shepherds.

We were falling behind, the weather was heavy and the animals were not moving, the dogs were harassing them, but it was as if they wanted to enjoy the last days of vacation and fill themselves with rich grass. At midday, half of the herd had not yet crossed over the pass. We needed to stop to eat a little and have a drink but one of the shepherds, Grégoire, he was a local, was constantly watching the clouds coming from the northwest, and he said : friends, this day will not end without a storm … He was often right about the weather … he was right. There were big white clouds, like cauliflowers, which rose in the blue of the sky before darkening and becoming completely black. The animals had to cross the pass before the storm came, and it was at this point that I proposed to my companions to divide the end of the herd in two, one part would continue by the normal route of the flock and the other, I would lead, by the “chemin of the Abeuradous”. At the time, these places were nothing like they are now, there was no forest, nothing but fields and a few clumps of trees, the mountain was bare. I remember that one of the shepherds, an old man, at least he must have been forty years old, told me not to go that way, that it was a bad road, exposed in the event of a storm but I did not want to hear it. Moving forward as quickly as possible seemed more important to me, within a few hours without my solution we would be stuck at the pass. So I left with about three hundred sheep, all alone, but that was possible, with my dog. Capri was a Pyrenean shepherd, he was intelligent and lively, attentive to my gestures, my whistles and especially my eyes. He understood what he had to do and did not shrink from his task, it was a joy to see him work.

Arriving at the bog on the lower part of Montals, I heard the first roll of thunder, like today, the same thing, it was deep, gloomy. The flock began to move much faster, as if to flee before the storm, I was almost obliged to run in front, while Capri was watching the sides and back. The air at that moment was motionless, not a breath, nothing but rumblings and the first black clouds that caught up with the end of the flock. In rainy weather, stopping in a peat bog is not a good idea, but crossing an exposed moor during stormy weather is not a good idea either, but what road to take, escape by the Col du Minier and go down to the Vigan or rush towards the more sheltered Abeuradous? I chose the second solution, I chose this almost straight, long way, to go faster. When I set off, it was four o’clock in the evening, it seemed like night already, there was a squall, the kind that precedes a storm, the one that slams the doors of the houses and makes the curtains flap, then the storm is unleashed. To be alone in a storm is disturbing but to be a shepherd, with a herd of three hundred animals trotting in front of you, is terrible! The rain came down in sheets, like a waterfall, the road became a torrent.
I ran in front with my lamb, which made my shoulders bleed, with the clamor of the bells chasing me, the lightning flashes and thunderclaps came closer and I thought that in a moment we would be in the eye of the cyclone. Suddenly, the sky tore apart, there was a massive explosion with a pale gleam, I felt a punch in my belly which lifted me up in the air, I found myself lying on my back, in the grass, stunned.

A dry smell surrounded me, a smell of sulfur, but it was above all the silence that surprised me: I heard only the rain and a few thunderclaps, not a bell, nothing … I got up when I could, and what I saw, brought me to my knees, broken, the flock had been annihilated instantly by a thunderbolt, the whole flock. The ewes were stretched out, stiff, legs full of tension, strangely they were not burned, not black or burnt, the lightning had simply taken all their lives, all but one, the little lamb I was carrying was alive next to me. I then looked for my dog in this mass of bodies and found him, also dead, his pretty pink tongue resting on a clump of grass. Capri dead, the whole flock dead, I felt a revolt, an anger, and shame take me over, which made me cry like an animal, as if I had to expel an evil thing within me, an infectious, unworthy and evil thing .
With the other shepherds we tried to bury all the carcasses but it was impossible, we had only rudimentary tools and the smell was unbearable, the flies were so numerous around this horrible feast, we set fire to the carrion, weeping with terror and sorrow. The path on which this drama had unfolded was named the path to the cemetery, it is a stone’s throw from here …No, I do not think so, said the man it is not so close, it is not possible I would have found…
You could not find it said the old shepherd, not on this day, with this storm … I told you just now that I lived here, it is not quite true, I wander here, I am a soul in pain, I am cursed. One who returns every year to relive his misfortune. I saw trees planted, changing our mountains, especially this road maintained, lasting and keeping its name. Then this name became a little mysterious, people were looking for an ancient cemetery, probably a forgotten monastery, but they found nothing but an old track. It is a sheep graveyard here, but there is no nameplate, it is the tomb of a shepherd which is here and there is no nameplate either. The man died in his bed a few years later, but the shepherd died with his animals that day in September of 1887.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau « Confessions » – Extract of book IV
I remember having spent a delightful night outside of the town, on a road which was along the Rhone or the Saone, I don’t remember which of the two. Terraces of raised gardens bordered the path on the opposite side. It had been very hot that day and the evening was charming; Dew moistened the wilted grass; No wind, a quiet night; The air was fresh, without being cold; The sun, having set, had left red traces in the sky, the reflection of which made the water rose-colored: the trees on the terraces were laden with nightingales, who sang to each other. I walked in a kind of ecstasy, giving my senses and my heart to the enjoyment of all this, and only sighing a little with the regret of enjoying it alone. Absorbed in my sweet reverie, I prolonged my walk far into the night, without perceiving that I was tired. I noticed at last and lay down voluptuously on the shelf of a kind of niche or false door sunk into a terrace wall ; The sky of my bed was formed by the heads of the trees; A nightingale was precisely above me; I fell asleep with his song: my sleep was sweet, my awakening was more so. It was already day: my eyes, on opening, saw the water, the greenery, a lovely landscape. I stood up, shook myself, hunger took me over and I gaily walked towards the town, resolved to having a good breakfast of two pieces of six whites that still remained to me. I was in such a good mood that I was going to sing all along the way(…)

Gilbert Vieillerobe – The blue amber road
http://www.writers-travellers.net/pages/extrait22.htm
[…] I am awoken by the sellers who take possession of the place. The display of one of them is already set up. I put away my kit and go and to greet him. Ashkar offers jewellery and baubles of all kinds. Unconsciously, I must have had a disinterested look, sweeping over his junk, because he hastens to explain that he is an old fisherman, that his boat is 20 km away, stranded on a sand bank, since the sea is gone, permanently gone, and he needs to live.
“She went off discreetly to offer herself a cotton apron with large blue and red flowers in Ustbekistan, and she never returned.
We laugh at his joke; He has accepted the situation, I believe!

I surprise myself by delving into his display, I who have never bought a jewel in my life! Nothing but ordinary, manufactured and worldly taste. A shoe box with a half-raised lid attracts my attention. I was going to open it but Ashkar stops my gesture and honours me with a disapproving glance, then, delicately, removes the lid and extracts from the box a piece that he hands me : A broach, which I don’t find very exciting but which, he asks me to handle with caution. A setting that tries to pass for silver encloses a blue matter; I say blue matter because it would take an expert, or even to have it analysed, to know if what I have in my hand is stone, plastic, glass or something else unknown … As for the setting, it seems to me very light, to be silver.
A ring now, he hands me a ring and shows me a stamp on the metal. I don’t know anything about it but he assures me that it’s “silver” and I tend to believe it. Again, the “stone” is blue. In fact, this box contains only a dozen items, rings, necklaces, pendants, brooches, all with this same blue “stone”, set on what is likely silver. Mechanically, the ring in hand, I ask the price. He announces an astronomical sum in dollars : 600 dollars! I burst out laughing, enjoying the new joke.
― Serious, very serious, he insists!
… And he beckons me to approach. I go with him behind his bench. He takes the ring from my hands, finds a flashlight in his clutter, and cleverly illuminates this blue matter. By its transparency, the light reveals several shades of blue, from deep sky blue, to blue marine that tangle and unwind like sea currents.
“Very pretty,” said I, “what is this matter?
– Amber!
I laugh again, I know amber, I know only yellow! I have seen some very beautiful pieces with whole insects trapped millions of years ago, in fossils of pine resin, but there no, the merchant’s sham is too big! I unhook a nursing pin that I always have at hand and take out my lighter to heat the tip in order to test if the amber is resin or plastic … but here again he stops my gesture.
― Not resin, another quality of amber, see how you can recognise it!
He rubs the ring on his jacket and feels it, then he starts again and makes me feel it: it’s amazing, with a strange smell of musk, rather animal than mineral. After this friction, the -stone” reveals all its shades of blue, it produces a kind of of phosphorescence.
-Is it dangerous?” His turn to laugh.
-Stone from Chernobyl!” We both laugh.
– So what is it ?
– Blue amber, very rare, exceptionally beautiful, very sought after, very expensive …
-Yes, I understand, but where does it come from?” He then pointed to the north with an ample gesture of his arm meaning to say far, very far, and adds:
There isn’t any more, the deposit is used up!”
Ah, deposit, it is a stone!
– No, no, blue amber …
Skeptical but intrigued anyway, I make an offer within my means – if he accepts! – for the ring : 50 dollars! Refusing indignantly, he takes the ring from my hands, looks again in his box and presents me with a piece of crude blue amber, as big as a half sugar cube. I rub it, feel it, the weight, admire its seamlessness, it is really very beautiful! How much?
– 50 dollars. I offer 15 and finally, for 20 dollars I take the piece, so to speak!
As soon as I saw my two green notes of 10 disappear, I told myself : you old fool, if you start your journey like this, I don’t have much hope for your skin!
The market is slow; Askhar invites me to sit down and prepares tea, two of his colleagues join us, bringing biscuits. I love this Kazakh tea; At the bottom of the small bowl, a drop of concentrated milk, then four drops of very strong tea and ten drops of hot water … and so on until saturation. When the colleagues had gone, I restart:
“So you do not want to tell me where this amber is found?”

―For sure there is no more, but to know for certain, it would be necessary to go again on the road of the blue amber.
“Is there a blue amber road?”
“From Aralsk, north, to the mouth of the great river Ob, after…after you have to see.
The little music restarts its song; No, it said, you did not choose to come to Aral by chance, this meeting, you wished it, did you not? It puts you on the path of another story! What if this abandoned road proved as prestigious as that of silk?
The trap which encloses me seems very sweet and innocuous; I think I am going to take a different direction than planned, except that on this unknown route the directions are scarce.
“Then Askhar, nothing else?” … if I decide to take the road of the blue amber?
I feel that I am annoying him and that I will have to leave. He gives me a sigh:
“Yrghyz, maybe!”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Emile (1762): « Journeys on foot »
I can only conceive one more pleasant way of traveling than to go on horseback, it’s to go on foot. One leaves in his own time, one stops at one’s will, one makes as much and as little exercise as one wants. We observe the whole country: we turn aside to the right, to the left: we examine everything that pleases us, we stop at every viewpoint. I see a river, I make friends with it; A thick wood, I go under its shade; A cave, I visit it; A quarry, I examine the minerals. Everywhere I like, I stay there. The moment I get bored, I leave. I do not depend on horses or coachmen. I do not need to choose ready-made roads, convenient roads; I pass wherever a man can pass; I see all that a man can see; and, depending only on myself, I enjoy all the freedom which a man can enjoy.
How many different pleasures are gathered by this pleasant way of traveling! Without counting the health which is strengthened, the humour which is enlivened. I have always seen those who traveled in good cars, gentle, dreamy, sad, grumbling, or suffering; and the pedestrians always gay, light, and content with everything. How much the heart laughs when one approaches the shelter! How tasty a copious meal! With what pleasure one sits at the table! What a good sleep one has in a bad bed! When one only wants to arrive, one can run in a horse drawn carriage; but when you want to travel, you have to walk.

Wikipédia – History of walking (Rearranged extracts)
Walking is the mode of movement of bipeds. It was used more or less skilfully as soon as the first Hominids appeared about 2 million years ago. This mode of movement allows a release of the anterior limbs, allowing the manipulation of tools, progressively and simultaneously with the walking.
Henceforth, walking is no longer merely a means of displacement, but becomes the means by which man projects his action. It thus accompanies the evolution of the human species by creating the conditions for the development of its intellectual faculties. Standing, for example in a savanna, also favours remote observation of enemies or potential predators.

Walking is the most energy-saving mode of unattended locomotion and the least stressful for the body. It allows to move at an average speed of 5 km / h.
However, man is not the first animal to have invented walking. The first animal to have been able to move while being straightened on its hind legs was probably the Euparkeria. (Small reptile of the Lower Triassic 230 million years ago). Most birds have retained this ability (inherited from dinosaurs), which is less common in mammals and reptiles.

Nomadism:
Humanity lived nomadically throughout the Paleolithic period (200,000 years ago); During the Mesolithic period, it gradually became semi-nomadic beginning to become sedentary during the Neolithic period (5000 to 10,000 years BC).
This way of life implies an acute knowledge of the territories traveled, often with a circulation logic whose latitude can range from 80 to 2 000 km. This way of life aims to make the most of the wealth of local resources, whether it be for the practice of gathering and hunting or the practice of pastoral breeding. It is estimated that at the beginning of the sixteenth century, about 60% of the world population still practiced nomadism.

Physical inactivity :
Appearance during the Neolithic period, the sedentary life implies a round trip from a fixed point. This way of life then generally imposes a living space of a radius of 7 km. Trade in products takes place step by step; 90% of the available foodstuffs were produced within this perimeter.
Until the beginning of the nineteenth century for a large part of the population, whose only mode of transport was walking, life was entirely in this restricted space.

The modern age:
Then the automobile made its appearance and then … Globalisation. By traveling several hundred kilometres, strawberries arrived on our market stalls, even in the middle of winter. Noisy quads also, unfortunately, undertook the conquest of our roads! !
At the present time, it is considered that in industrialised countries, the average distance of a walking sequence in the context of a movement with an objective is only a few hundred meters (rarely more than 500). Beyond that, other modes of travel become more interesting and took over (bike, public transport, automobile …).
With regard to city people, the substance which usually makes up their days, all the “possessions”, the indispensable accumulations, the artificial needs, the imposed obligations, the constant contradictions; All this weighs on their existence, heckled without respite by an exterior inadequate to what they are or could be, a dimension constantly constrained. (Quote by Christian Verrier – Walking, an experience of self in the world – Essay on the eco forming walk).

At the present time, it is considered that in industrialised countries, the average distance of a walking sequence in the context of a movement with an objective is only a few hundred meters (rarely more than 500). Beyond that, other modes of travel become more interesting and take the step (bike, public transport, automobile …).

However, walking between 5 and 10 km a day would be the best thing to do to preserve our health and release our internal tensions. When the 240 km of the chemin de St Guilhem are taken on, they can return to you a vigour comparable to that of the hunter-gatherers of the stone age and, as we said in the introduction, regenerate your intellectual faculties, sometimes strained in the age of omnipresent digital and smart-phone.

So, Like our national anthem tells us, Let’s walk! Let’s walk on the Chemin de Saint Guilhem with the shepherd’s staff, Finding space in our steps and the freedom that our predecessors knew in the time of Nomadism, long ago.

Victor Hugo, Le Rhin, letters to a friend, Letter XX.
Nothing is as charming, in my opinion, as this way of traveling. – Walk ! – One belongs to oneself, one is free, one is joyous; We are wholly and unequivocally involved in the incidents of the road, in the farm where we have lunch, at the tree where we shelter, in the church where we gather. We leave, we stop, we leave again; Nothing hinders, nothing retains. We go and dream in front of oneself. Walking cradles reverie; The reverie veils fatigue. The beauty of the landscape hides the length of the path. We do not travel, we wander. At every step we make, an idea comes to you. It seems that swarms are hatching and buzzing in your brain. Many times, sitting in the shade on the side of a great road, beside a small spring, from which flowed joy, life, and the freshness of water, under an elm full of birds, Near a field full of tedders, rested, serene, happy, gently occupied with a thousand dreams, I watched with compassion passing me by, like a whirlwind in which the lightning, the thunder rolls, that thing, sparking and fast containing, I know not what slow travellers, heavy, bored, and sleepy; That lightning which carries turtles.– Oh! How these poor folk, who are often men of mind and heart, after all, would soon throw themselves out of their prison, to where the harmony of the landscape is resolved into noise, the sun into heat and the road into dust, If they knew all the flowers found in the undergrowth, all the pearls gathered in the pebbles, all the houris discovered among the peasants, the winged, opulent, and joyous imagination of a man on foot!
Musa pedestris.
And then all comes to the man who walks. There are not only his ideas, but adventures; And, for my part, I love the adventures that happen to me. If it is amusing for others to invent adventures, it is amusing for oneself to have them.

Solitude by Pierre Muller
There is just at the edge of the map, the beginning of this little meander formed by the path, which should normally extend to another sheet at 25,000th. Unfortunately, I did not take this one, since the meander in question, there, makes a brief appearance and then returns to the first sheet. Why clutter oneself unnecessarily?
We progress in the shade of the great beeches between the Aigoual and Aire de Côte. It is better here because in this month of July the temperature flirts with the thirty-three degrees and the forest envelops us with its beneficent freshness. I guide my family excursion, in advance of the voluptuous troupe of vacationers and to avoid the voices of the intrepid cavalcades of children, left, as usual, as the advance guard.

The discussion begins with the leading group, about the most suitable shoes for the hike. The director of the Maison Familiale de l’Aigoual with whom I accompany the field trips, practices patiently, a sort of permanent survey with the residents on this subject. Given the plethora of models proposed by manufacturers, and the impossibility of finding them, one thus constitutes a reliable database for future purchases. He is not present this afternoon but this theme, consumerist if anything, seems nevertheless to continue to fascinate our group.
A sort of forest roundabout presents itself to me like a clearing. The light that reigns in these places has brought forth a luxuriant vegetation. Taken in the discussion between the respective advantages of leather and Gortex, I take without hesitation the track that presents itself before us. When guiding by the way, you should never hesitate too much, that could destabilise people, isolated in the middle of this dreaded and unknown jungle with only landmark their patented guide.
The forest to the east of Mount Aigoual is traversed by broad forestry lakes that meander nonchalantly, like rivers of the plain, on the curves of the massif. Moving under the cover of this forest maze requires sustained attention. It is difficult to read the general direction of the road, which slopes first to the west, turns northwards and then turns southwards.
The debate “leather or Gortex” for the lining of the sneakers passionately enthusiasts my hikers while the small red lamp of my professional conscience starts to flash. This south troubles me very much to tell the truth … For Cabrillac, where we are to go this afternoon is rather to the north.
Three meanders further, I feel completely disoriented in the middle of these silent woods, suddenly become hostile. I have lost the essential correlation to any navigation worthy of the name, between the map, the one I did not take with me, and the terrain, nor am I familiar enough with the places to find my bearings. Around me, always confident and happy, the hikers discuss with ardor, caring less about the road followed than about an old sock. I am now alone in the world with my heavy secret.
Ring the alarm? Go back to this roundabout, this crossroads where the good path was hiding beneath the vegetation? A glance at my watch altimeter dissuades me. We will hardly have time to take the right direction and carry out the proposed hike before nightfall. AIE Aie Aie !
I stop the group to listen to me, a little surprised that my attitude has an unusual gravity:

─Listen to me ! The children are tired and it’s hot, “I said with conviction. I suggest we shorten the hike a bit and go for a drink at Aire de Côte before heading back to the MFA. Who’s coming ? (taking care of the small ones, usually works quite well). I thought with a certain guile.
─ But we are already going to Aire de Côte! Said a person from Nimes, employee at Perrier and a mushroom collector, who is more familiar with these places than the others.
─ Bravo, at least one of us knows where he is going! I replied. So it’s OK?
─ Yes, yes, I’m thirsty says a little girl behind me.
─ Did we bring money? Ask a husband to his wife.
─ No problem I can front some, I say ready to make it work. So let’s go !
Refreshments, like music, tend to soften the mood and the ambiance, we once again become pleasant in front of the cool cans, dripping with mist that are served to us at Aire de Côte, this will finally spare me the derogatory comments of the few addicts Of Cabrillac who will probably never know this picturesque hamlet.
Maybe, like those who enjoyed a four-legged climb, following a muddy and very steep ravine, which I inflicted on exhausted hikers, on a previous excursion, to catch the trail of Bramabiau … A mere moment of inattention…

Who will speak of the infinite solitude of the one who walks ahead?