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Scott’s Traveller Tale: Walking in Tarn, Medieval France

Walker's review on walking in Tarn, France with Sherpa Expeditions
 
Each year, Scott and his wife try to have one long holiday which incorporates site seeing, cultural interactions and some sort of activity. Being Australians in London and living away from family also means that holidays include time with them when they come to visit from overseas. "Each year I go on a boys’ long weekend hiking trip in the Lake District and on a skiing trip to Europe" says Scott. "I try and dust off my bike annually to participate in the Dunwich Dynamo (overnight bike ride from London to the Suffolk coast)." In the summer of 2019 he embarked on our self guided walking holiday exploring the Hill Top Villages of Medieval Tarn
 

Why did you choose to walk in Tarn, France?

France is such a diverse country and having worked there previously, I am always up for another trip visiting a different area. I had watched a programme on the Tarn region so was interested to visit. This walking itinerary also fit into one week of annual leave and, being time-starved, it was great that Sherpa Expeditions had this trip so we didn’t have to organise a thing!
 
Being time-starved, it was great that Sherpa Expeditions had this trip so we didn’t have to organise a thing!

 

How did you prepare for your walking holiday in France?

Not well and probably I should have done more to enjoy the trip in a more relaxed way. To prepare I did a few local weekend walks and also each weekend I participate in Park Run in my local park. Even though the walking days on average are over 20 km, most of the walking is fairly flat except when climbing up into the villages or descending out of them.
 

Your favourite destination on this Sherpa Expeditions holiday?

Cordes is a good village to start and finish the walk as it has great views, shops & restaurants. But I think the walking each day through moss covered forests and along escarpments seeing the villages come into view are also highlights. I recommend the 1-day Albi extension. If you have an extra day it is worth including to appreciate the Sainte-Cécile Cathedral and visit the museum dedicated to Toulouse-Lautrec, the famous late 19th century painter who was actually born there.
 
 
Albi on a walking holiday in France, Sherpa Expeditions
 
Walking trip near Albi, Tarn, France - Sherpa Expeditions
 

Best French food and drink?

The two meals we had at our chambre d'hôte accommodation in Vaour and in Bruniquel where you ate with your hosts and other guests. It was like enjoying a 4–5 course dinner party with friends. We did have to use a translate app some of the time but it made for some funny conversation. I found that most restaurants in Tarn do very good value set menu meals as well.
 

Biggest surprise when walking in southern France?

How quiet it was, we came across very few walkers and a couple of mountain bikers. The trails were very clean and the waymarking excellent. 
 

> Learn more about the Tarn region & view stunning images

 

Flowers along the walking trail in Tarn, France - Sherpa Expeditions
 
Well deserved drink after a day of walking in Tarn, France - Sherpa Expeditions
 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

The heat, we had very high temperatures so carried 2 litres of water each daily. The last day was very exposed so we took our time walking back into Cordes where we celebrated with a few well-earned beers.
 
 

Curious to learn more about this self guided walking holiday in France? Have a look at the full description of our Hill Top Villages of Medieval Tarn walking trip, or contact our specialist team to discuss your wishes. 

Read the Q&A on Walking in France's Tarn & Aveyron Region

 
Walking in Tarn, medieval France, includes picturesque hill top villages
 
 
 
 
 

Best European Trips For First Time Walkers

We have picked some excellent walks in Europe, which are all rated introductory to moderate or moderate on our grading scale. These are some of our favourites for either first time walkers or easier walks for those wanting something a little gentle themselves back in after lockdown restrictions are lifted.

 

France - Burgundy Vineyard Trails (Introductory to Moderate)

This is the trip for you if you love good food and wine…and let’s face it, who doesn’t? You start your walk at a gentle pace in the historic Beaune that is home to a cluster of prestigious vineyards such as the Cote d’Or, Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits, so plenty of opportunity for some wine tasting! The village of Burgundy itself has many untouched lanes and you will pass by many ancient churches and chateaus, such as La Rochepot, on your travels. You can also expect glorious views as far as the Alps, as well as enjoying the delights that Rully has to offer.

Find out more about the Burgundy Vineyard Trails here.
 
 

Portugal - Douro Rambler

This is another one for the wine lovers out there. Not your traditional vineyard trip, but the Alto Douro wine region is famous not only for its port but also for its high quality table wines. You will get the chance to visit quaint villages such as Vilarinho de Sao Romeo in the middle of the region, passing the River Douro and finishing in the bustling city of Porto. If you want to see the vines in full harvest, the best time to visit would be September or October.
 
Find out more about the Douro Rambler here.
 

Spain - Hiking in Hidden Andalucía (Moderate)

This really is a hidden gem of a walk in our opinion. You will get to experience the remote and unspoilt sector of the Alpujarras east of Trevelez, including the charming, white-washed villages of Berchules, Yegen and Mairena, which are fed by Acequias that bring fresh water from springs in the mountains. Following the ancient byways of rural Spain, you will also come across some commanding views across to the Sierra de Gador and the Mediterranean Costas beyond.

Find out more about Hiking in Hidden Andalucía here.
 

France - Hilltop Villages of Medieval Tarn (Moderate)

One of our newer trips, this is a beautiful rural walk where you will take in all the sights of some of the prettiest medieval towns and villages in France. They are rich in history with little tourists, so you will feel like a local when wondering around the sites of the Cathars and alongside rivers and vineyards. When staying at Chambres d’Hotes, you will also get to enjoy an authentic meal with your hosts, to help immerse yourself in the culture even further.

Find out more about the Hill Top Villages of Medieval Tarn here.
 

Switzerland -The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls (Moderate)

This is definitely a walk not to be missed as it is a fantastic introduction to the delights of Swiss walking. You can adjust the duration and difficulty of most of the days to suit you, from a softer valley stroll to a higher mountain trek. However you choose to do it, you will get to see the stunning villages of Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen and Zermatt, whilst hiking around well-known alpine peaks, including Wetterhorn, Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau and the Matterhorn.

Find out more about the The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls here.
 
 

Cyprus - The Troodos Mountains and Akamas (Moderate)

Cyprus is an island of incredible natural beauty, and on this trip you will have the pleasure of lapping up the best it has to offer. The Troodos Mountains cover much of the southern and western part of the country and this walk takes you from hiking high mountains down to the coast, passing unspoilt countryside, orchards and woodland interspersed by sleepy mountain villages with their ancient churches, as well as the oldest monastery in Cyprus Kykko Monastery. A great time to visit is in September or October when you may catch a glimpse of many species of birds during their migrations.
 
Find out more about the The Troodos Mountains and Akamas here.
 
 
 

Five Ways To Keep Entertained During Lockdown

As well as getting out for some fresh air if you can, there are so many things you can do in the comfort of your own homes whilst in lockdown. This could be the perfect time to slow down and appreciate those small pleasures in life that may have passed you by before.
 
 

Reading

Does reading always seems to go to the bottom of the list when life gets in the way, normally reserved for holidays and long journeys? Now you have some more free time, you can really get stuck in to a new book and get transported to anywhere in the world.

The Little Italian Bakery - Valentina Cebeni

The essence of Sardinia is perfectly captured and you can easily whisky ourself out of this world into a new one.  This is a place where time has stood still for years on end, but where the secrets of the island have also been hidden in its past.
 
Get it here.

A Wedding in Provence, by Ellen Sussman

A fictional story of a couple holding their second marriage in Provence, France surrounded by their immediate family in a quaint inn set in the small town of Cassis. The bride’s two adult daughters bring a little drama to the situation and it all quickly unfolds from there. 
 
Get it here.

Normal People, by Sally Rooney

This award-winning novel is Set in Ireland. The story follows two people from high school in their small town to university in Dublin, exploring their relationship as well as their own psyches.
 
Get it here.
 
 

Listening to podcasts

There are so many to choose from, but there are a few that are great to keep that hiking mindset alive and kicking! Anything  from advice on training for a bucket list trip to real-life stories and hints for beginners.

Hiking Thru

A weekly podcast in which there is a speak with experienced thru hikers about their stories from the trails and strategies for a successful thru hike. Each episode is not only full of unique stories from the trail, but also comes with dedicated 'Gear Recommendations and Trail Wisdoms' page. Here you can see what gear each thru hiker used including shoes, socks, packs, sleep gear and more, the food they ate and can recommend for you, gadgets, apps, hacks and of course wisdoms learnt along the way.
 
Listen here.

The First 40 Miles

This is a podcast for people who are new to hiking and backpacking. If you are new to backpacking, or if you're hopelessly in love with someone who wants you to love backpacking, then this podcast is for you. We talk about the essentials, how to lighten your load, and how to make the most of your time on the trail.
 
Listen here.

The Training for Trekking

This podcast is created to help hikers, trekkers and mountaineers prepare for their bucket list adventures. Rowan shares with you the simple training strategies to get you fit, strong and resilient to tackle anything the trail will throw at you, even during the current pandemic.
 
Listen here.

 

Cooking And Baking

Have you found a new found love for cooking and baking? You’re not the only ones! So, even if you can’t get to your favourite destinations right now, you can still whip up something native to the region instead and before you know, you’ll feel like you’re there!

French Coq Au Vin

A traditional French dish consisting of chicken braised with wine, bacon lardons and mushrooms. A red Burgundy wine is typically used, though many regions of France make variants using their local wines.

Find recipe here.

Greek Moussaka

Moussaka is an aubergine or potato-based dish, often including ground meat, traditionally minced lamb and topped with a creamy béchamel sauce. However, there are many local and regional variations.

Find recipe here.

Scottish Shortbread

It’s almost impossible to think of the delicacies of Scotland without thinking of their famous shortbread. Perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon, these sweet and crumbly treats will be sure to keep you going.

Find recipe here.

 

Watching Films

Sometimes it’s nice to look forward to watching a nice film at the end of the day, and even better when it includes stunning scenery and cuisine from the places you have dreaming of visiting. Whether it is more hard-hitting or light-hearted, they’ll be sure to inspire your next adventure.

Wild

Starring Reese Witherspoon, this film is based on the true story of Cheryl Strayed on her path to recovery.  Still reeling from her mother's death and recent divorce, she decides to hike alone along the Pacific Crest Trail with no previous experience.

Watch it here.

A Walk In The Woods

This hilarious comedy stars Robert Redford as the bestselling travel writer Bill Bryson, who makes the improbable decision to hike the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia.

Watch it here.

The Trip

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon star in ‘The Trip’ following them exploring fancy restaurants of northern England, ‘The Trip to Italy’ where the two go on a road trip in Italy from Piedmont to Capri, on the Amalfi coast, and ‘Thee Trip to Spain’ where they discover the joys of tapas in Spain. Their culinary adventures take them through Cantabria, the Basque region, Aragon, Rioja, Castile, La Mancha and Andalucia.

Watch The Trip here, The Trip to Italy here and The Trip to Spain here.

 

Playing games

In these times of social distancing, there are many ways to stay entertained. Whether that’s with your household over a good old board game or on a trans-generational  Zoom call and taking things digital with an online quiz.

Would I Lie To You Board Game

A game of quick thinking that calls for a cool head and a poker face. Can you fool your opponents with an on-the-spot lie? Just like the TV show, some of the facts are true, some are not, it's all down to you to decide!

Find it here.

Travel Quizzes

There is an abundance of online quizzes around, especially now, so the real question is which one to pick? If you would call yourself an expert traveller, why not test your knowledge with one or two from Traveller’s huge selection.

Find them here.

Get Puzzling

Puzzles can be great fun and really get you to concentrate, so much so you can find yourself in another world. When you’re not able to visit the places you want to, you can still recreate beautiful images of them!

Find some here.
 
 

Coronavirus, Holidays in the UK and Europe: a Message from our CEO

Maintaining a rational perspective with international travel

There’s no doubt that Coronavirus has caused disruption and inconvenience to individuals and to the authorities in affected areas, but I would like to reassure travellers with a calm and rational assessment of the facts.

Uncertainty about the virus in its early weeks has bred fear, which is being heightened by the barrage of news headlines and amplified by social media. The situation now is that it is rare to read balanced information. 

World Expeditions Travel Group has been operating adventures across the globe for 45 years and, during that time, we have experienced and overcome many adversities. We have well-developed and tested risk strategies for these very occurrences. 

Coronavirus outbreak is the latest challenge and we do not see any reason for travellers to panic. We advocate continuing with travel plans as we are doing with our own staff travel programme. 

As with travel at any time, there are risks of infection from a virus. At no time are we able to guarantee you will not become ill during your travels with World Expeditions Travel Group or, indeed, in your daily life at home. Weighing up the risks of travel is a personal decision and we encourage you to investigate the facts to come to an informed decision about the risks. 

According to the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:
 
"Everyone should know the symptoms – for most people, it starts with a fever and a dry cough, not a runny nose.  Most people will have mild disease and get better without needing any special care."

We develop robust risk strategies based on multiple sources, primarily: 

We encourage you to visit both websites. With respect to corona virus, mainland China, Iran and 11 towns in Northern Italy and two pockets of South Korea remain the only four countries for which the FCO has increased the advisory to Advise against all but essential travel or Advise against all travel. 
 
Johns Hopkins University in the US has a map with helpful facts about global cases of the virus.   

We make regular updates to the travel advisory section of our own website and I encourage you to check it on our partner company World Expeditions.

I would also remind you that a typical World Expeditions Travel Group holiday is one in which you’ll be immersed in the natural landscape and generally off the beaten track, where the chance of catching any virus is far lower than in most urban environments.

I do advise departing travellers, including staff who are travelling both now and in the future, to take extra precautions in washing your hands regularly and following NHS guidelines related to COVID-19.

In conclusion, I would like to assure you that your safety – and that of all our travellers - has always been at the core of everything we do. I acknowledge that any new health outbreak that is widely covered by the media will cause concern and I encourage you to maintain a rational perspective and continue with what you do daily and what you love to do on your holidays.

Yours sincerely,

Sue Badyari
CEO
 
 

A Year In Trips - Where To Go And When in 2020

To celebrate the start of a new decade, we have put together the ultimate list of the best trips to go on over the coming year; from catching some winter rays in the Canaries, to beating the crowds on the Amalfi Coast and bringing out your inner foodie in Burgundy.
 
 

JANUARY - Beat the winter blues in the Canary Islands

Even during the winter months, La Gomera gets 9 hours of sunshine daily, with the average day temperature close to 22°C. Despite being easily accessible from Tenerife (the boat trip takes just an hour), the surprisingly lush green island remains largely untouched by mass tourism. 

Find out more about our Exploring La Gomera trip here.

 

FEBRUARY - See the orchids in bloom in Madeira

In the heart of the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira enjoys an impressive year-round flowering season thanks to its subtropical climate. The best time to catch the orchids in bloom is in February and you can even find a dedicated Orchid Garden with more than 7,500 species.

Find out more about our Madeira Island Walking trip here.

 

MARCH - Have the Amalfi Coast for yourself before the crowds arrive

Few trips in Italy take in such a diverse combination of iconic highlights, making it impossible to escape the hordes of crowds that head to ‘Nastro Azzurro’ (Blue Ribbon) in the summer months... but come in March and you will have the Amalfi Coast just to yourself.

Find out more about our Amalfi Coast trips here.

 

APRIL - Walk through bluebells in the Cotswolds

April marks the beginning of the bluebell season across the country. If you are looking to admire these quintessentially English carpets of blue, you do not have to travel far, head to the Cotswolds countryside and get inspired by this spectacle of nature.

Find out more about our Cotswolds trips here.

 

MAY - Cycle through the Scottish Highlands at their sunniest (and driest!)

May is not only the driest month in Scotland (less than 80mm of rain) but with approximately 170 hours of sunshine it is also the sunniest. Although the Scottish weather is notoriously changeable and often localised, this is when you are least likely to avoid a downpour.

Find out more about our Scottish Highlands Cycle trip here.

 

JUNE - Explore England before schools break up for summer

If your plans are not determined by the school summer holidays, travel in June for a quieter countryside and a less busy coast. June sees the longest day of the year (an average of 16 hours of daylight) so you can maximise your time outdoors on the most classic of all UK hiking trails, like the Coast to Coast.

Find out more about our Coast to Coast trips here.

 

JULY - Visit the Yorkshire Dales ahead of the TV remake of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’

Channel 5 is reviving in 2020 the much-loved TV series about a rural vet in the Yorkshire Dales, which was based on James Herriot’s real-life memoirs. The remake is scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the original publication of James Herriot’s ‘All Creatures Great and Small’.

Find out more about our James Herriot Way trip here.

 

AUGUST - Cycle your own Tour of Britain in Cornwall

Cornwall will host the Tour of Britain for the first time ever in September 2020, which will see riders travel over 100 miles through the Cornish countryside. It will be the biggest ever sporting event to take place in the county, so if you want to avoid the (extra) crowds travel a few weeks earlier.

Find out more about our Cornish Cycle Tour here.

 

SEPTEMBER - Swim through rock arches in Sardinia

The weather in Sardinia in September is still warm and pleasant, with the lower humidity making outdoor activities much more enjoyable. Explore secluded bays and ancient watchtowers, swim through rock arches and watch the sunset turn the cliffs to shades of yellow and pink.

Find out more about our Saunter in Sardinia trip here.

 

OCTOBER - Plan a grape escape in Tuscany 

October is grape harvest time in Tuscany. Pedal past rolling vine-covered hills to the heart of the Brunello wine district, meet local winemakers and wander through ochre-coloured vineyards. When you get to Montepulciano, cheers with a glass of the famous local Vino Nobile.

Find out more about our Cycle the Wine Regions of Tuscany trip here.

 

NOVEMBER - Experience the ‘real’ Burgundy

By late autumn the crowds in Burgundy have thinned, the weather has cooled and the autumn temperatures will not let you get overly warm while pedalling. Do not miss the major International Gastronomy Fair in Dijon – it takes place every November and the foodie inside you will thank you!

Find out more about our Burgundy Vineyard Trails here.

 

DECEMBER - Follow in the footsteps of smugglers in Andalusia

Today the Sierra de Aracena Natural Park is a walker’s paradise – but during ‘el hambre’ (the hunger) after the Spanish Civil War many of the locals became ‘Mochileros’ (packmen) smuggling goods using remote high paths, many of which are still in use.

Find out more about our Smugglers Trails of the Sierra de Aracena here.
 
 

Last Minute Winter Walking Trips

If you’re not one for the long dark nights and would prefer being somewhere warm with sun on your face, why not try one of these beautiful destinations? Whether you're after something more relaxing, historical, full of nature or a bit of all three, we have a winter walking trip to suit everyone!
 
 

CYPRUS

Seemingly isolated in the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus has been at the cockpit of western history for thousands of years, notably during the medieval crusades, when it acted as a launch pad for the crusaders. A few kilometres inland from the busy coastal resorts, an older world prevails. Discover sleepy villages, farms and forests with fabled mountain views. Legend has it that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, brought her lover Adonis to the beautiful Akamas peninsula. When walking in Cyprus, you get to experience the land of the Greek gods.

Find out more about Winter Walking in Cyprus here
 
 

LA GOMERA

Exploring La Gomera 
If you’ve been walking on the Spanish mainland, or have been to the Canaries before and you come to La Gomera, you’ll probably notice that the second smallest island of the Canaries is something special, and altogether quite different. Some people liken it to Spain in the 1970s, but if you have travelled to countries of Central or South America, there are certainly Latin American elements that you will recognize in the villages and landscapes. This circular walk takes you around almost the entire island, allowing you to experience the amazing diversity of landscapes on offer.

Southern Trails of La Gomera 
This trip focusses on the sunny south side of La Gomera. The shorter walking days will give you the opportunity to do other activities such as relax by the sea, snorkelling, kayaking or whale watching. You’ll experience coastal walks, quiet beaches, mountains and pretty, quiet towns. You’ll also visit Roque Agando – dubbed the Matterhorn of La Gomera because of its pyramid-like shape. This is a lovely winter walking trip that allows you to relax and take it easy as well as giving your body a moderate work-out.

Find out more about Southern Trails of La Gomera here, Exploring La Gomera 8 Days here and 11 Days here.
 
 

MADEIRA

It’s easy to see why this island has become such a popular, year-round destination for holiday-makers. Best known for its cornucopia of gourmet food and wine, year-round, mild, sunny climate and breath-taking scenery, Madeira is the ideal destination to visit at any time of year. This trip is focused on the south and eastern parts of the island, where you’ll have the chance to stay in small charismatic villages full of friendly locals, explore lush green levada walking trails and feel on top of the world as you perch on the highest peak in Madeira.  

Find out more about Madeira Island Walking here.
 
 

LA PALMA

A new destination for this year, La Palma is a fascinating volcanic island. The most north-westerly and the fifth largest of the Canary Islands, it’s famous for its volcanic craters and the huge collapsed erosion crater called The Caldera Taburiente - an amazing site 10 km across and with walls towering more than 2,000m over the caldera floor in places.  Our itinerary in La Palma features a series of walks from three base towns – there is a lot of flexibility on offer, depending on how much you want to challenge yourself.

Find out more about La Palma Island Walking here.
 
 

SIERRA DE ARACENA

This walk takes place in the Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche, the second largest Natural Park of Andalucia, situated close to the border with Portugal. The rolling hills and white villages offer wonderful walking opportunities. The character of the villages has changed little over the centuries, their history reflected in their architecture and the landscape surrounding them. On walks you pass along Roman cobbled tracks, glimpsing abandoned watermills and ancient hill forts left by the Moors. This is also a great trip for bird-lovers – the area is rich in many important species including the black vulture, and golden, short-toes and and Bonelli’s eagles.

Find out more about Smugglers Trails of the Sierra de Aracena - 8 Days here.
 
 

VERMILLION COAST

This lovely walk starts in France and finishes in Spain, along the coast where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean. It’s a great trip for art lovers – starting in the former fishing village of Collioure, where the colourful Fauve school of painting began, and finishing in Figueres, home to the Salvador Dali museum. In between, you’ll discover charming towns and fishing villages, beautiful scenery and delicious food and wine.

Find out more about Hiking the Vermillion Coast here.
 
 

Travellers' Tales: In Van Gogh's Footsteps with Heather Zrini

Heather hails from Canada and has walked many UK and European trails, as well as most recently completing the Camino Frances, with the hope of doing more in the future. Read on to find out how her and her friend found the In Van Gogh's Footsteps trip, challenges, surprises, Michelin stars and all!

 

What is your walking history?

Eight years ago, my friend that I walked this tour with, returned from a walking trip to Italy and couldn’t say enough great things about it. She wanted to do another walk in the Loire Valley and I said that I would join her. The Loire Valley trip was wonderful and I have done several other walks in the Cotswolds, the Dordogne Valley and Bavaria with friends and family since then. Last year I completed the Camino Frances which was an amazing experience and I hope to complete the Camino Portuguese next year with the people I met on my first Camino. My plan is to try and do a walk every year until my knees start to complain too much!
 

Why did you choose to walk where you did?

I’ve always wanted to go to Provence and In the Footsteps of Van Gogh included many of the towns that I wanted to see. My friend and I walked in September, so we missed seeing the lavender in bloom, which is something on my bucket list, so I will just have to return another time! We learned while we were walking in Les Alpilles that we couldn’t have walked during the summer months as the risk of forest fires is too great.
 

How did you prepare?

When I went on my first walk, I was very nervous. I wondered if I would be able to walk that far and for that many days. I surprised myself and didn’t even develop any blisters! When you’re walking in the beautiful countryside in Europe, the fact that you might be walking 25km doesn’t seem to be a problem at all. It also amazes me how once I arrived at my destination for the day and changed my footwear, my feet felt like they could keep on walking! Since the Van Gogh walk was really only for 4 days and the maximum walking distance was 18km, I didn’t do a whole lot of preparation, other than to walk 10 km on the Saturday and Sunday of two weekends prior to departure. Walking a few more hills might have been useful, in retrospect.
 

 

What was your favourite destination?

This is a tough one as all four of our destinations were beautiful in different ways. St. Remy de Provence had a beautiful city centre and we really enjoyed following the path of Van Gogh paintings that led to the hospital where he stayed in 1889-90. We were thrilled to see some of the landmarks in his paintings as we following the route. The best part was climbing up to Les Deux Trous (The Two Holes), seeing the holes at sunrise from our hotel room the next morning and they discovering a Van Gogh painting with the holes prominently displayed above the olive trees.
 

 

Best food and drink?

We started our trip in Lyon prior to travelling to the starting point of Avignon. The gastronomy capital of the world didn’t disappoint. While we were there, we learned about Michelin starred and Michelin recommended restaurants. In Avignon, we ate at a Michelin recommended restaurant that was delicious. In Arles, we went to a tiny little restaurant that has been suggested in our route notes that was just down the street from our hotel. We got to eat outside and the dinner was amazing….I even went back for lunch the next day! We sampled various wines with our meals, tried an Aperol Spritz and the hostess at the hotel/restaurant in Les Baux de Provence gave us a thyme flavoured liquor after our dinner to ‘aid in our digestion’.
 

 

Biggest surprise?

We had many lovely surprises during our trip. The things that stand out are the lovely terrace overlooking the hills that was attached to our room in Les Baux de Provence, as well as the amazing view of the amphitheatre from our hotel room window in Arles. We were also pleasantly surprised to be able to get into Palais des Papes and Le Pont d’Avignon for free, as we happened to be there on Journees du Patrimoine when all the monuments in France weren’t charging an admission fee!
 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

This is an easy one! It was definitely the optional 8km walk in Les Alpilles on Day 3. The first part of the walk was lovely and not too challenging so we decided to see what the optional walk would be like. We had climbed up to Les Deux Trous and loved the view so we figured it would be similar terrain. It wasn’t! There was a 1.5km section where you were walking along the ridge of the mountains. The views were spectacular, but it was quite windy, very rocky and nothing to prevent you from falling down on either side! We had been warned in the route notes that ‘a well-placed hand would come in handy’ and they were right! We found it quite challenging but we just took it very slowly and managed just fine. We certainly felt a sense of accomplishment when we were finished!
 

Top 5 Bucket List Trips

You can enjoy 10% off all our holidays until 25th October 2019 with our Early Bird deal, including our top bucket list trips! Read on to find out more.
 
 

1.    Coast to Coast

Described by Alfred Wainwright as “one of the world’s great walks”, the idyllic Coast to Coast is widely considered as the most classic of all UK long distance trails and one that has stood the test of time. The trail runs all the way across England, from the Irish sea coast to the North sea coast over nearly 200 miles and traverses three National Parks. We offer a few different options, including self-guided and guided versions of the full route, as well as shorter walks for those wanting to do part of the route.

Find out more about the Coast to Coast here.
 
 

2.    Tour du Mont Blanc 

The Tour du Mont Blanc is easily one of the most spectacular walks you will ever do. This extended itinerary circumnavigates Mont Blanc and explores the surrounding alpine region, affording unsurpassed views of the different faces of the massif, as well as glittering glaciers, lush valleys and of course the highest point on the route, the Grand Col Ferret at 2,537m.

Find out more about the Tour du Mont Blanc here.
 
 

3.    The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls

If you enjoy being able to personalise your days a bit more, then this is the trip for you! This route is great for those wanting an introduction to the Swiss Alps, with a range of walks often with differing grades and distances. On many of the days, you can decide whether you tackle a high mountain trek along a Bergweg mountain path, or a valley stroll on a Wanderweg lower level trail. There are also lots of sightseeing opportunities, from the peaks of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau that overlook the valley towns of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, while the celebrated mountain town of Zermatt lies just below the towering Matterhorn.

Find out more about The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls here.
 
 

4.    Walking in the Dolomites 

Although not exceptionally high (the highest peak is Marmolada at 3342m), the Dolomites are amongst the most striking of all European mountains. The walk starts with the spectacular Tre Cime di Lavaredo and the scenery continues to impress with new panoramas unfolding with each turn. The cliffs of the Tofana, Sella and Marmolada massifs tower above the winding paths and to cap it off, there are opportunities to stand on a couple of summits and peer down almost vertical rock faces to the valleys far below…definitely not for the faint of heart!

Find out more about Walking in the Dolomites here.
 
 

5.    West Highland Way

This rather special and ever-popular follows the 96 mile national long-distance trail of the same name through the south-western part of the Scottish Highlands. Starting at the village of Milngavie just outside Glasgow, it includes Loch Lomond, valley routes through the mountains round Crianlarich and open heather moorland across the Rannoch Moor wilderness area. It passes close to Glencoe, and finishes at Fort William near the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest peak, which can be readily ascended by experienced clients if they choose to spend an extra day.

Find out more about the West Highland Way here.
 
 

Top Trips for Wine Lovers

With Europe’s grape harvest season fast approaching, we have put together a run down of our top trips for oenophiles...we let you know where's best to visit and what's best to drink whilst you're there.
 
 

Vineyard Trails of the Loire

The Loire is also one of the major wine producing areas of France, and it also has the advantage of being a great centre for cuisine and historical monuments. Our tour links the great chateaux at Amboise, Chenonceau, Azay le Rideau, Villandry and Chinon with the great vineyards of Vouvray, Chinon, Saumur, and Anjou.
 
The Loire is France’s valley of the kings, where you will find much of its history and see the great palaces and castles. It is the countryside that inspired Balzac, where Leonardo Da Vinci spent his retirement and where Joan of Arc fought some of the battles of the 100 years war. The combination of walking, spectacular historical sites, the food and wines of the Loire, makes this walk full of interest and pleasure; self-guided departures until 31 October.
 
Find out more here.

 

Burgundy Vineyard Trails 

Burgundy has the highest number of ‘appellations d’origine contrôlée’ in France. Chardonnay, one of the world’s most planted grape varieties today, originated here and it remains the most commonly grown white grape. Its ability to adapt to different weather conditions makes it one of the ‘easiest’ grapes to cultivate and today there are more than 30 clonal varieties in France alone.
 
Starting in the walled city of Beaune, the region’s wine capital and home to the Hospices de Beaune, where the primary wine auction in France takes place each year, explore the best Burgundy Vineyard Trails; self-guided departures until 30 November.
 
Find out more here.
 
 

Alsace Vineyard Trails

The geography of the wine growing area in Alsace is determined by the Vosges Mountains in the west and the Rhine River in the east, with the vineyards concentrated in a narrow strip on the lower eastern slopes of the Vosges. Wine here is all about aromas, with Pinot d’Alsace widely considered as one of the most uniquely flavoured white wines in the world. An abundance of cellar doors awaits for you on this trip, while the local cuisine includes specialties such as tarte flambé.
 
An abundance of cellar doors awaits for you on Sherpa Expeditions’ Alsace Vineyard Trails, which starts at the Haut-Rhin, in the southern part of the region, where the best vineyards have long been associated with; self-guided departures until 24 October.
 
Find out more here.
 
 

Douro Rambler 

The first demarcated wine region in the world was officially established in 1756 when the Port industry developed. Today it has the country’s highest wine classification as a ‘denominação de origem controlada’, while the viticultural zone, which covers the steep slopes along the banks of the lower reaches of the Douro River, is designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
 
There are plenty of opportunities for scenic boat trips, wine tasting tours and visits to port lodges on the Douro Rambler, which takes you deep into small working wine estates of vine-laced terraces; self-guided departures until 15 October.
 
Find out more here.
 
 

Trips inspired by International Beer Day

We are celebrating International Beer Day by paying homage to and highlighting some of the best trips to go on if you (like us) enjoy a nice glass of that liquid gold after a long days walking!
 
 

Austria | Austrian Lake District & Dachstein Alps

Austria is an obvious choice if you’re after a pint as they have a big beer culture there, with the average Austrian guzzling around 105 litres of it every year! Some of the most popular beers are Fohrenburger Premium Weizen, Gösser Export and Stiegl Pils, which is known for its slightly sour taste. So, after a long walk in the Austrian Lake District and Dachstein Alps, why not head for a pretzel washed down with a beer?

Find out more about Austrian Lake District & Dachstein Alps here.
 

France | Provence and Dordogne

Provence is famed for its lavender fields and rosé wine, but what you may not know is that there are some very interesting micro-breweries in the area as well. Petite Aixoise is definitely one that has been receiving high praise of late. Based in Aix-en-Provence, they have a delightful Ambrée pale ale (ideal with charcuterie and cheese) an IPA for bitter lovers, Blanche beer (perfect during the summer months), a Blonde lager, plus the dark and creamy Triple. There’s something for everyone.

Find out more about Walking in Haute Provence here.

The Dordogne is always a go-to for it’s amazing food and drink, and is fast becoming well-known for it’s craft beers too. One of which is a beer named Ratz that is based near Cahors. They do a great range of drafts, blond, amber and dark ales, all with very unique flavours. So, if you find yourself in the area it’s well worth a try!

Find out more about Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne - 8 Days and Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne - 10 Days.
 
 

Germany | Bavaria

Germany is famous for their steins of beer, so what better place to visit for a beer fix. In Bavaria during the middle ages, they referred to beer as ‘liquid bread’ because of its calorific qualities, and it is still a staple in many Bavarians diets today. A must-try is the König Ludwig whose slogan translates to "beer of royal highness". They have a royal heritage and the current owner, Prince Luitpold of the House of Wittelsbach, is the great-grandson of the last King of Bavaria, Ludwig III, and a descendant of the original signatories of the 1516 Bavarian Purity Law, and Ludwig I, whose wedding celebration marked the first Oktoberfest! With all that history, it’s definitely one to seek out to reward yourself after a days walk.

Find out more about Bavaria: King Ludwigs Way here.
 
 

Greece | Exploring Crete and Zagorian Villages

Greece probably isn’t the first place you would think about for it’s beer, however it has some really promising local brands in Crete called Brink’s and Charma lager. Solo beer, which is based in Heraklion, Crete is also won a gold medal from Barcelona Beer Festival in 2017. Mythos is a very popular Greek beer too that has won many awards, so you certainly won’t be going thirsty here!

Find out more about Exploring Crete here.

Find out more about Zagoria The Secret Villages here.
 
 

Ireland | Wicklow Way

You can’t go to Ireland without having a pint of Guinness or ‘the black stuff’ as it is lovingly referred, and we would always recommend that you do so, as it really doesn’t taste better than in the country it’s brewed after a long day of exerting yourself along The Wicklow Way! However, we mustn’t forget that there are other really delicious stouts and ales, such as Murphy's and Smithwick's which definitely give Guinness a run for it’s money.

Find out more about The Wicklow Way – 7 Days and The Wicklow Way – 9 Days.
 
 

Italy | Amalfi Coast

Everyone always talks about Italy’s famous food, and quite rightly so, but you also need something to pair it with, right? That’s where beer comes in! Of course, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of the classic Italian Moretti beer, but when walking along the coastline of southern Italy you will also come across some smaller craft creations, such as the local Amalfi Coast beer. It was started by two beer-loving friends and there are interesting stories behind each of their four beers - Amalphia, Regina Major, Veteri, Pithekusa - inspired by aspects the coast.

Find out more about the Classic Amalfi Coast – 8 Days and Classic Amalfi Coast – 11 Days.
 
 

UK | Cornwall and Coast to Coast

It’s no secret that the UK has a large beer offering, with breweries cropping up all over the place, so it’s hard to choose our favourites. However, we thought we’d try to whittle it down using some of your most-loved walking trails. Firstly, along the South West Coast Path, when you get to Cornwall we would recommend a cold pint from Skinner’s Brewery, especially Cornish Knocker and Hops ‘n’ Honey. Doom Bar is also a favoured beer all across the country, but it’s extra nice to have it in the place it’s made.

Find out more about the South West Coast Path here.

When walking the Coast to Coast, it’s almost impossible to come across a pub not serving Wainwrights Beer and there’s no wonder as it’s won multiple awards. So, the question is, what are you waiting for? If the sun’s out, find the nearest beer garden and put your feet up – you deserve it!

Find out more about the Coast to Coast here.