Yesterday was a resting day by force due to non-stop rain which was more than welcomed after miles of driving through serpentine narrow roads during the day trips on previous days. Even though the weather forecast was not much better for today, or rather inconsistently different on every weather forecasting source we checked, it was quite pleasing to experience a beautiful day of a mild temperature, subtle sun peaking through and freshly cool breeze. For that reason, the plan for today turned out to be a hike and we have decided for the Gorges d’Heric, or the Valley of Heric (the river) running the massive of Le Caroux, situated in the heart of the Regional Natural Park of Haut-Languedoc, some 40 km north west of Béziers, in South of France.
Over the many years, the river carved its way through the valley and formed many waterholes, or rock pools as they are locally known with small waterfalls connecting them all. The fresh water pools offer swimming opportunities while the smoothed gigantic rocks provide for a great resting platform or challenging obstacles. We have indeed experienced a slip and hit that fortunately ended up with only a purple toe and some wet clothes but that was on another day when we came to this place but only for bathing, card playing, tanning and general resting. The water is however cold, even at the end of the season and it’s only understandable considering it flows down from the tips of the mountain.
We started our hike just outside the village Mons-la-Trivalle, only 10 min car ride from our house in Vieussan. Leaving our car at the parking lot for 3€, we make our way along the river Heric, through the winding path with moderate 10km to go in total and a mild 300m ascent. Being it after the high season and a day of rain, we have only occasionally encountered fellow hikers. Just enough to keep us good company. Even families with strollers (buggies) dared the ascent. After all, the path was well cemented and even, perfect for a relaxing walk.
But one had to be quite careful as there were no boundaries to protect anyone from a fall over the edge which led into a steep and rocky downfall.
What did we find along the way? Some waterfalls, ranging from half a meter to some 10m high. Edible chestnuts but not ripe enough to try. Blackberries but only some ripe enough to taste and although I was suspicious of eating them I nibbled on them all the way up and down. Let’s see tomorrow. We even encountered a lonely slug (no, there was no lettuce.)
Even car drove through the narrow passage, unusually, from the village at the top, also called Heric (just like the river running through it.) One of the houses made a destination cafe out of their backyard. In my mind, it was the Le Petit Cafe. Officially, it was La Buvette. Being also the motivating factor behind the hike, a clear reward at the end of the walk up, I was really hoping they would be open! They were, ouvert.
After a coffee and croissants (I mean “une croissant et cafe au lait (avec beaucoup de lait mais léger s’il vous plaît” which is what I have scribbled together to order my highly customised coffee. I have given up on the decaf,) we made our way back to the base passing by an abandoned car, a mansion to the lizard inhabiting the back seat. Only now while writing this post I have realised I have already made the mistake to use the word légère (promiscuous) rather than léger (weak) – no wonder they looked at me strangely.
Passing fellow hikers, I have made it a habit to say bon jour to each and everyone. Interestingly, I have not noticed the same initiative from them but once greeted by me, there was a very enthusiastic bon jour back, often bouncing back like an echo. Other impressions was the amount of garbage bins along the path. I have encountered more of those on this one route than in entire London! (Exaggerated indeed but certainty making my point here.) I love that they looked exactly like the ones I grew up around (I don’t mean I was homeless!)
Making the last curve before the end of the hike, we pass by a group of artists painting the rocky pools in watercolour. Snooping around and starting a conversation with one of them, I have learned they are a group from Sweden visiting here on a painting trip. I have tried three different courses on watercolour and am yet to find the right teacher that will help me the way I need. The conversation with the lady inspired me not to give up so watercolour is back on my to do list, hopefully sooner than later.
Successfully completing our 4h hike, we head back to the house and prepare for a tasty BBQ. Thankfully nothing happened out of the 50% chance of rain today. On our return way, we once more take a look back over the suspension bridge in Tarassac and indulge in the view of the peaks of Gorges d’Heric from afar.