Taking the Chemin de Saint Guilhem is like leaving on an adventure… but with a little preparation. Take the time to follow our advice.
Details of the trail
If you look closely at the curve levels, the hike looks like roller coasters !
In actuality, the Aubrac Plateau and the various “causses” are not particularly difficult. They are more rolling hills than steep inclines. On the other hand, the vast flat spaces are broken up by valleys and gorges that need to be crossed to pass from one to the other.
The climb up the Massif de l’Aigoual, approached from the north is very gentle and not really difficult.
Treks which require more effort are:
– the inclines, from Saint-Chély d’Aubrac to Enfrux
– leaving the gorges du Tarn after Sainte-Enimie
– leaving Meyrueis to Haut-de-côte
– from Le Vigan to Montdardier
– after the Cirque de Navacelles on leaving the gorges de la Vis to reach Saint-Maurice-Navacelles.
The elevation gain (total of all our climbing) is about 6000m. The difficulty of this great excursion is a two on a scale of three.
Organise the legs of your journey
Try to organise the stages according to your hiking level. Stages that are too long (more than 25 km) at the beginning of your trek could cause you difficulty with the hikes that follow. Reckon on shorter legs, that give you time to recuperate.
Plan to finish your journey into a valley, at the end of the day, allowing you to take on the climb the following morning, this will help to avoid heat and general fatigue.
If you think to complete the course in twelve days (20 km/day), your (average) climb will be 240m per day.
Certain sections of the route have good lodging possibilities, whereas others have less. For this, see our interactive map, which indicates the “gites” (lodging) which are at most two kilometres from one part or other of the path. In case of need, certain “gites” (lodging), which are further from the path, are also indicated.
We advise you to routinely reserve your lodging for each stage in advance. In some places you will also need to reserve meals. At times you will need to find supplies yourself. Be aware that many shops and restaurants are closed on Mondays.
From the “signal of Mailhebiau”, summit of the Aubrac which peaks at 1469m, the alternate route descends towards the west, by Trélans, towards La Canourgue (where it crosses the main path). From there climbing again onto the plateau, it overlooks the legendary “Gorges du Tarn” from Saint-Georges-de-Lévézac passing through Saint-Rome-de-Dolan. Then it plunges to the floor of the gorges at Vignes and continues its path along the river, left bank, to Rozier and Peyreleau, at the confluence with the “Gorges de la Jonte”.
Leaving the gorges du Tarn, we come to the part that takes courage : the dolomite “chaos” at the southern point of the “Causse Méjean”, overlooking Rozier et Peyreleau. The centuries have sculpted strange and enormous shapes in the mass of overhanging rock. This is an amazing and wonderful place, where the air fills with dozens of griffon vultures, which were successfully reintroduced to the area, many years ago.
Next, we arrive at the charming small town of Meyrueis, and therefore, the main path, passing though Saint-Pierre-des-Tripiers, Hyelzas (where we can visit the olden day farm in the style of the “causses”) and the Armen Aven cave with its extraordinary stalactites and stalagmites, along the Jonte valley on the plateau of the causse de Mejean.
It is preferable to hike when the temperatures are bearable. The chemin de St Guilhem goes south! Be sure to have enough to drink and protect yourself from blisters! A blister at the beginning of your trek is definitely problematic! Your wash bag should include stretch bandages and plasters as indicated below.
You hike at your own risk and danger and are responsible for any damage you may cause to a third party. It is recommended that you take a personal insurance (see FFRandonnée). The route is sometimes on public land and sometimes private estates, where you have only the right of passage.
Close gates carefully after you pass by – Leave no rubbish – Cover your tracks.
Many plants are protected and collecting them is not allowed inside the perimeter of the Cévennes National Park – rather pick them with your camera, like this you can avoid a fine.
Don’t approach or touch any wild animals. This could cause the young to be abandoned by the mother.
Don’t let your dogs run wild. Keep them under close control since they could cause real damage to the wildlife.
Be extremely careful not to cause wildfires. All outside fires are strictly forbidden. Cigarette ends, which are not completely extinguished, frequently start fires.
If you see a fire starting, call immediately 18 or 112. Indicate the commune, village or gps coordinates and the direction of the wind (smoke) to the fire department. Following this, get yourself far away from the area concerned.
You are advised to get the weather report every day (Meteo France 32 50).
Don’t hesitate to communicate your impressions, comments, suggestions or any problem you’ve encountered on the route. Your observations are important to us.
Good hiking shoes which have been well broken in to your feet (one doesn’t leave on « the St Guilhem » without a little preparation).
Pack your bags lightly or use baggage carriers where this service exists.
Light clothes which are also adapted to all kinds of weather (sun, cold, rain).
First aid kit with stretch bandages and plasters for blisters and an anti-sting kit with suction pump (wasps – hornets – vipers). Anti mosquito spray or cream. A nonstick bandage and an anti-inflammatory cream could be very useful in the case of a pulled muscle or tendon (don’t forget safety pins!).
Map (or better topo-guide FFR – GR 48-34) and compass – water bottle or bag – energy foods – sunglasses – knife – torch or flashlight– light binoculars for birdwatchers.
Headgear – gloves – suncream – toilet paper – rubbish bags – survival blanket (in case of accident).
Smartphone GPS or GPS hiking for dummies in navigation!