I think that I read R.L.Stevenson’s ‘Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes’ whilst I was still at school. I can’t say that it had any great impact upon me, and I do not recollect a single thing about it other than the title. I had no idea then that one day I would get to visit this area and to fall in love with it. I have been here several times, and each visit brings something new and revealing…. new vistas, fresh experiences and a sense of well-being that I haven’t found in many places on my travels. It is as if I just become part of the land, the concept of ‘terroir’.
My travels were definitely more modern and I can’t claim that my donkey (read car) is called Modestine. But in all fairness I did do some walking on the Le Chemin de Stevenson/GR70, (Robert Louis Stevenson Trail GR70), but having Maggie and with 36c heat, I was rather selective. It isn’t too hard to appreciate why this walking track is one of the classic French walks.
Other than the fabulous scenery, and the thing I really would love to share with you, is the smell. Yes, that’s right, the smell, or rather the scent of the region. It is deliciously intoxicating, delicate odours of wild thyme and lavender, the spicy box and pine conjuring up heady masculine colognes, and the mingling of light almonds from the ubiquitous oleander, rosemary that releases a smell so comforting when bruised that you can only feel happy as it embraces you and lingers on your fingertips to remind you later. Much is said of the power of smell and if I could bottle it with all of it’s complexities, I know that just one hint would carry me back here no matter where I was in the world! It’s a little like the unique scent of the Australian bush with the rich eucalyptus oils…it can only be one place.
I wonder, do smells evoke memories, places, events or people for you too?
Come back again soon for more ‘Travels without a Donkey in the Cévennes’