The dark, dark mountains of Cévennes

Chris and I are on the road in France. We visit Françoise and Denis in Ardèche, and Françoise and I reminisce about when we were lost in the mountains in Georgia, surrounded by fog and bears…

We are on our way to our friend Paul’s. It’s just a 27km walk on the GR44D hiking route over the Cévennes mountains. Easy! So we happily (and stupidly) start the long hike at 1pm with only four hours of daylight left. This hike has striking similarities to the last time I walked, and got lost, in France: like before, I have a map that Françoise and Denis have printed out for me off the internet. And like before, we are armed with chocolate supplies, a compass, an inability to speak French, and far too much optimism.

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When The Seagull Ate The Sparrow: the road to Turkey

I have left the Rainbow Gathering in Spain and I am in Barcelona, listening to Turkish music with my friend, Julien. I turn to him and say, “I miss Turkey. Let’s hitchhike to Turkey together!” A few days later, a spontaneous Julien has packed a (heavy) rucksack and said goodbye to his life in Toulouse.

We hitch through the French Alps and spend the night in a disused military base in Briançon.

Hitching with Super Hitchhiker, Julien, in the French Alps
Hitching with Super Hitchhiker, Julien, in the French Alps
We sleep in this World Heritage Site fort in the Alps
We sleep in this World Heritage Site fort in the Alps

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An Irritating Itch in Condom: Two weeks in France

I hitch the channel once again with Peter, my regular lorry-driving saint. I am migrating south for the winter and am feeling more excited than usual: I am not doing my usual route through what my friend Arjun describes as the Ordnung countries, where everything and everyone has to fit into boxes within society (Germany, Austria, Denmark…)

I meet my friend, Conor, in France. He is on week-one of an overland adventure to Japan. Together we travel to beautiful Ardeche and visit Françoise, my travel-buddy in Turkey last year.

Conor and I travelling through France

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Travelling solo, sleeping rough, and trouble with the police in Italy

I have been travelling with my friend Naomi for a week or two, from Belgium, through Luxembourg and into France. We continue our adventure down to the south of France. The generosity of the French surprises me, and it’s the only country I have hitchhiked where most of my lifts have been from women. We sleep in many places: a couple invite us into their holiday home at the Cote d’Azur, another woman feeds us in her mountain home….we sleep on the rocks of the coast, and on balconies of summer homes that are not yet being used. We carry on travelling through hideous Nice and the even more hideous Monte Carlo.

We arrive at night in the shady Italian town of Viarregio. A group of lads are sitting outside a bar, listening to dodgy r’n’b on their mobiles. They invite us to drink with them. Naomi jumps at the chance, sits amongst them and exclaims, “this is just what I needed!” whilst I sit down moodily and think, “this is the last thing I needed”. Continue reading “Travelling solo, sleeping rough, and trouble with the police in Italy”