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Monday, 7 September 2009

Je habiter la, a la South of France

We arrived in Briancon from Italy and have spent some time in our first French National Park. The Ecrins National Park is an area of high mountains; becoming a fairly normal habitat for us. Our joy is boundless to find footpaths with signposts and campsites galore along with mountain to mountain sunshine to bask in. The village of Vallouise, where we camped, also had a micro brewery and a choice of bakeries.

We have both read John Hillaby's 'Journey through Europe' recently: He walked from Holland to the French south coast in 1969. It is interesting to read of his experiences 40 years on, reflecting on what has changed. His concerns for the natural environment seem insightful to us now, although the improvements in the quality of the rivers since then is considerable. John Hillaby followed some of France's first Grand Randonee (GR) and argues for a network of paths across all of Europe. Forty years on this has been achieved, with over 100 GRs in France, linking to footpaths in other countries.

John Hillaby's explanation of why he made his trip has resonance with our own:
'I wasn't getting away from it all; I was trying to get with something. Essentially, it was the rediscovery and enlargement of a portion of the world of which I have the joy of being a part.'

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