Culinary Journey in France for Slow Walkers, from Gascony to Cevennes and Provence
To acknowledge a special request by several of our loyal guests, we have created a journey through some of the best food regions in France. The idea was to design an unhurried gastronomic program, based in three unpretentious centres: Lectoure in the heart of Gascony, Florac in the National Park in the Cevennes and Forcalquier, our hometown in Provence.
Our journey of discovery combines culture and gastronomy with ample free time to rest and recuperate, or make your own discoveries.
Our gastronomic snail trail begins in Biarritz, the classy coastal town on the Atlantic. From here we travel to Gascony - with hilly open landscape.
Our walking track follows a section of the pilgrims trail across undulating hills with magnificent views over pastoral countryside. Along the way we pass old farmsteads and hilltop villages, some dating back to the 13th century.
We stay in the delightful market town of Lectoure, which was founded by the Celts in the 5th century and occupied by the Romans. The cassulets, foie gras and confits d'oie are world renowned.
Other products of the region include "eau de vie", crepe and the sought after truffles, an excellent "vin du pays", the very drinkable Floc de Gascogne and Armagnac.
Our next stop On the Snail Trail is another area of great natural beauty and charm - the Cevennes! Ancient stone villages, chestnut forests, spectacular gorges and hidden valleys - an ideal place for walking through delightful countryside.
Florac is the perfect location to explore the vast expanse of the Cevennes National Park. It offers outstanding flora and fauna as well as the historical and cultural heritage of the Cevennes.
The most impressive "canyon" in this region is without doubt the one cut by the Tarn River between the "Causse de Sauveterre" to the north and the "Causse Mejean" to the south.
After leaving the Cevennes we visit the extraordinary aqueduct of the Pont du Gard before we reach Forcalquier, our base for the next 5 days. There is nowhere else quite like Provence - it is a region to feed the senses - the strong colours, the smell of lavender, pine and wild herbs, shopping in colourful markets, street cafes, local wines, rich vegetable soups, chicken with garlic and thyme and the famous Daube Provençale.
Together we visit the popular Forcalquier market, an ancient olive mill and France's number one pastis distillery. We stroll through small hilltop towns, have lunch in a hidden gastronomic restaurant near Gordes and visit the famous Gorge du Verdon, highlighted by a lunch in Alain Ducasse's noble Auberge in Moustier Ste Marie.
Our Hotels and Cuisine
In Gascony we spend 4 nights in an 18th century mansion in Lectoure, which opens out onto a terrace with a swimming pool and magnificent views. Anne and Jean Luc Arnaud are our hosts and Jean Luc is a well-known chef in France. He is renowned for his imaginative presentation and diversity in preparing the gastronomic delights of Gascony.
The next 4 nights are spent in the heart of the Cevennes. The driving force behind our hotel La Lozerette, is the charming Pierrette Agulhon, the third generation of her family to own and run it. The restaurant is very highly regarded in the region.
The final 5 nights are in one of our favourite hotels - Auberge Charembeau. Located in a picturesque Provincial setting, it has two swimming-pools and tennis courts. Here we have selected a number of individual restaurants, which offer the gastronomic delights of the famous "Cuisine Provençale".
An excellent fortnight with enough walking to work up an appetite and as much opportunity as you could expect to soak up the atmosphere of the french countryside and its villages. Graeme's sure judgement comfortably accommodated the weather conditions, varying agility levels and individual interests." Geoff from Melbourne, VIC Australia 
What an amazing journey I had discovering more back roads of France "On the Snail Trail". This walk for me through areas of Gascony, Cevennes and Provence offered me so much natural beauty with lots of spectacular mountains, gorges, valleys, rivers, history, food and wine of the region etc along with lots of flora and fauna and great photography shots. The food served in each region was so delicious and it couldn't be faulted. There was so much food offered for breakfast and dinner that there was no excuse to be left hungry. The accommodation was exceptional and very comfortable to lay the weary body after a magnificent day exploring the countryside. Our lunches were sourced mainly from local markets with so much choice and beautiful picnic spots were found to enjoy our feast and cool off. Graeme is an exceptional guide who has a wealth of information and is very dedicated and loves the outdoors and nature. We had a wonderful gr oup of 8 who all were enthusiastic to walk and explore the area and spend the evenings together reminiscing our day events and getting to know each other. I would definitely recommend this walk for food lovers of these regions." Lyn from Dingley Village, VIC Australia 
Really enjoyable holiday in some lovely places." Anne from Canberra ACT Australia 
Wonderful tour with lots of interesting food and some excellent wine. All accommodation was of a very good standard and reasonably well located. The tour group was interesting and well managed by the tour leader. What would I change? Not much but maybe more walking through towns rather than fields that way I could have more cups of coffee!!! On the whole we enjoyed the tour and am planning on joining the burgundy tour in September next year as graham takes this one as well." Jadzia and Ted from Coogee NSW Australia 
I thoroughly enjoyed the Snail Trail in France. We stayed at gorgeous hotels in small French villages, and were presented with 3 and 4 course wonderful dinners each evening. Our walks were a mixture of tracks, fields and roads, with plenty of breaks for morning tea and lunch, and photo stops. Graeme was an excellent leader, driver, navigator and companion. A walk with Walkabout Gourmet Adventures is well recommended." Val from Melbourne, VIC, Australia 
Really enjoyed it. Graeme was a great guide, the places we stayed in were very nice, the group we were with were great company and the scenery was always beautiful. Looking forward to another trip next year!" David from Toowoomba, QLD, Australia 
This had all the ingredients of a superb holiday. We enjoyed great walks, saw wonderful scenery, tasted delicious food, stayed in lovely old family run hotels and had great company. Even the weather was perfect! A highlight each walking day was to visit the small boulangerie, charcuterie, fruit shops or local markets in the nearby village to select a delicious picnic lunch. Graeme ensured that everything was perfectly planned, including some wonderful dining and sightseeing experiences, and we could not have had a more delightful and caring guide than Pascal." Angela from Marsfield, NSW, Australia 
Jenny & I loved this walk adventure. The 3 hotels we stayed at were well selected and of a high standard. Good accommodation, great food and very helpful staff. It was well planned to have 4, 4 & 5 nights in each of these hotels. We were able to get some idea of regional foods and wines. Not a task that was too hard!! The walk was well planned, not too difficult and very interesting sights. The lavender fields in Provence were just superb, that sight alone was worth the trip. We were fortunate to have excellent weather which allowed good 12 km walks without feeling done in at the end of the day. Our guides, Graeme & Pascal were very helpful, enthusiastic & good company, we had a great time with them. Rural France is just superb, with its history, way of life and lack of city pressures. Just wonderful. Having 2 days without official duties was also well planned. The 14 people in our group all interacted really well. A very compatible tour group with a common love of the outdoors and good food and wine. Our final stay at Charembeau with an easy walk into Forcalquier was ideal. The venue, accommodation, swimming pool and breakfast setting was a great way to end a wonderful 2 weeks in rural France. Hope we have another one in us. Keep up the great work." Clive & Jenny, Canterbury, VIC, Australia 
Patrick and I loved the Snail Tour. We had great weather, good company, ideal leaders - it was just perfect!!! To walk through that countryside was heaven - off the beaten tracks, near harvest-time, the variety of crops, sunflowers, herbs, grain crops!!!!! I liked the regional approach to the food rather than describe the cuisine as gourmet; the small hotels we stayed in, met my expectations. I also thoroughly enjoyed the pre-dinner gatherings for a good laugh and the info for the next day. I also love the way we stopped spontaneously to take in the Rugby when France was playing Australia! Of course, I was impressed at visiting the village of the tour leader and hearing the tales of rebuilding and excavating! I enjoyed the way we were dropped off at the railway station in Avignon and could do our own visitation of the town - other visits to the area have always been focused on Palais des Papes. I was amazed at the spectacular scenery - Pont du Gard, and the natural beauty of the modest farm-houses and out-buildings nestled between the trees. The tour was a 'just right' combination of walking (I was always looking for a short-cut!) eating and holidaying for us. I loved every minute! I say: Keep up the great work!" Mary-Anne & Patrick, Adelaide, SA, Australia 
A relaxing walk. We particularly liked staying in only 3 hotels . The hotels were of a high standard and in good locations. The meals reflected the different regions of France and it was good to eat in quality restaurants. There were many interesting sights and tastes of France during this 2 week holiday and we appreciated the efforts of Graeme and Pascal to make this a most enjoyable holiday . We enjoyed the company of the group so long live the snail trail." Allan, Brisbane, QLD, Australia 
As usual we had a great time being guided by Graeme and Pascal. I spent a lot of time admiring Pascal's fine gallic skin! What I'd give for that asset! The totally best part was the nice long stays at the hotels and not having to move on so much. Charembeau was tres tres jolie! and I usually found a way of confounding the management with my travel wash line. I have had a couple of goes at the eggplant dish we had in Forcalquier which was superb. The second time it worked and was a success. All our travelling companions were fun and interesting and we would like to hear their follow up stories also. It was great to be shown your abode as I have often wondered what it is like. I just hope your knees hold up for many more years." Toni and Robert, Manly, NSW, Australia 
Loved walking in the Tarn River Gorge and Haute Provence. Such beautiful places. The balance of walking, sightseeing and relaxing on the tour was very good. We couldn't consider a more strenuous walk and due to health restrictions one of us struggled but we wouldn't hesitate to recommend this trip. The accommodation was excellent and the food was outstanding. Driving through the Verdon Gorge was a highlight. Exploring Lectoure was a delight. There were even truffles for sale in the street market. All the small villages such as Florac, Lurs, Banon were gems. Graeme is to be congratulated for a very well planned and well executed tour and his colleague, Helmut was a very good support. We won't forget this trip ever." Lorraine, Melbourne, VIC, Australia 
Wonderful experience. Lots of walking up hills but Helmet was always there to see I eventually met with the main bunch! Great people on the tour, wonderful accommodation and great food. Thank you Graeme for a great 14 days. Roslyn, Hobart, TAS, Australia 
What an absolutely wonderful toe-in-the-water experience. The content was excellent - the result of thoughtful and efficient planning and organisation; the accommodation chosen combined charm and character with first rate facilities; and all expertly pulled together by our personable and knowledgeable tour leader Graham, who was most ably supported by Helmut. The experience was even more enhanced with our good fortune in walking with a most interesting and friendly group of people. Our first but not our last walking adventure with Walkabout if we have anything to do with it! Marilyn and Hugh, Booker Bay, NSW, Australia 
Excellent tour, really nothing I could say to make it better. Graeme is such a considerate and charming guide that everything ran smoothly and happily. The group was excellent and quite a few of us will keep in touch. Sabine also fulfilled her role delightfully. Please, another snail trail! Lesley, Hawthorn, Australia 
Thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience from the hotels, the walks to the. With very fond memories of a lovely holiday. Jill, Brighton, Australia 
This is our fourth Walkabout Gourmet Adventure and we have enjoyed all our previous trips but this one exceeded our expectations. The itinerary was excellent. Our four days in Biarritz prior to commencing the walk was delightful with good shopping, food and lovely walks. A day trip to Bilbao to visit the fabulous Guggenhein Museum was a highlight. We chose "On the Snail Trail" because it was less hurried with more time to relax or explore or whatever. We were also keen to return to Provence which we had enjoyed on a previous Walkabout tour. We loved Gascony & the Cevennes which were new to us and were both very special. We were impressed with the villages, towns and undulating terrain in Gascony and the fabulous Tarn River and the National Park in the Cevennes. All six walks were enjoyable and gave us a greater insight and enjoyment of the individual localities. The three hotels were charming and we enjoyed the regional variations in the cuisine and wines. Our final lunch at Bastide de Moustiers was a gourmet delight and a memorable finish to the holiday. We had a marvellous group of fellow travellers from Melbourne & Sydney. Eight members were first timers and it was interesting to hear them talk about their enjoyment of experiences which we "old timers" took for granted. What can I say about Graeme & Sabine? We have travelled with them before and found them to be great guides. Both are warm, friendly, patient and professional and good fun to be with. Congratulations WGA on another outstanding holiday" John & Lorraine B., Armadale, Australia 
I really enjoyed the tour. I thought that Sabine and Graham made a great team and I felt well looked after and cared for, the whole time. I loved the landscape around Gascony and the pretty towns in the Cevennes. The Alpine walks were a highlight with lovely meadow and spectacular scenery. I also loved the lavender fields and the Gorge du Verdon. I also think that our group was great and we all got along well. The only downer was falling in the mud! Thanks for a great trip" Pam L., Kensington, Australia