Tag Archives: GR5


St Delmas le Selvage. It looks a long way down.

St Dalmas le Selvage. It looks a long way down from here, but it’s where the nearest cafe is waiting.

It’s hard to describe for non-walkers the experience of hiking one of Europe’s great trails, the GR5 over the French Alps.

Here’s my best effort to compare it to an exercise anyone can try at home… Continue reading


Filed under France, Hiking


The French Alps, mostly wi-fi free.

The French Alps, mostly a wifi free zone.

We apologise for this break in transmission. Do not adjust your set.

I’ll be somewhere in France for the next week, walking roughly southwards along the mighty GR5 route from St Paul-sur-Ubaye, hoping to emerge at St Martin-sur-Vesubie. There’ll be refuges with food, beer, wine and beds along the way, but I don’t expect to find internet access very often.

The Dutch footballers in Brazil will have to struggle on without my help. I’ll be back in time for the final.


Filed under Hiking


The scenery is a knockout.

The scenery is a knockout.

I think I’ve now spent more time walking in the French Alps than any other place in the world, even including the hiking I’ve done in Australia and New Zealand.

This year’s leg was six days hiking the GR5 and its variants between St Paul sur l’Ubaye and St Martin de Vesubie.

It’s still an annual highlight of my life to spend a week in the mountains with my Dutch friends.

Here’s why I keep going back there: Continue reading


Filed under France, Hiking

THE YEAR THAT WAS 2011 – our travel highlights

Getting there sometimes required some effort. That's why they call them highlights. This hump is Mt Hvitserkur, Iceland.

I’ll be taking a short break from writing, blogging and nearly everything else (except collecting material for new posts) until the New Year. So it’s time for a look back at highlights of the year that’s oh so nearly passed. Continue reading


Filed under Travel

HIKING FRANCE – la Grande Traversée des Alpes

This is an easy bit, but up ahead...

Hannibal did it, Napoleon did it and now I can say I’ve done it too. Those famous conquerors were faster, but I understand they did it the easy way. The wusses rode elephants and horses, took shortcuts and had armies of minions carrying their gear for them.

I travelled on foot, by the scenic route, doing all my own walking and lugging all my own stuff, with just a small entourage of intrepid friends, and it took us five week-long trips spaced across five separate years to make the Grande Traversée des Alpes, the Great Alpine Crossing. This year we finished the job. Continue reading


Filed under France, Hiking

FRENCH ALPS – hiking the GR5

An easy section. But it looks like there are tougher bits up ahead.

I don’t normally have jam on my morning baguette, but in the mountains you take all the calories you are offered. I’ve paid for them and by golly I’m going to use them.
Continue reading


Filed under Hiking

THE ROAD AHEAD – our plans for European adventures

We leave Sydney for Amsterdam next week. We’ll be sorry to leave family and friends for a while, but we always look forward to catching up with our other family and friends in the Northern Hemisphere.

Amsterdam is lovely but we won’t be hanging around there all the time. We have other adventures planned:


Mosque, Atyrau, Kazakhstan - Photo: ThereseKL

I’ve been invited to be a visiting author at the Dostyk International School for a few days, and I’m delighted to be going there. I’ve been googling Kazakhstan and Atyrau. Kazakhstan is enormous – the ninth largest country in the world by area, and Atyrau is an oil town on the Caspian Sea. It may not turn out to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, but it’s bound to be interesting. Yes, I’ll be teaching my writing classes in English – I still have a lot of work to do on my Kazakh.


Who wouldn't enjoy a ride in the Dutch countryside and a few organic spuds?

Mevrouw T and I have ridden a lot of Dutch cycling routes, including the ‘Pieterpad’ which crosses Nederland from north to south (or south to north if your prefer riding uphill).

Recently Dutch organic produce promoters Biologica and Greenpeace have marked out a 1000km ‘Pieperpad’ cycling route across the country, passing by a lot of organic farms, notably those growing organic potatoes (‘piepers’ in Dutch).

Our mission, should we decide to accept it, is to ride the route, eat the produce, meet the farmers and write something interesting about the humble spud. It should take two weeks – maybe three if there’s rain and a headwind!


It's taken 10 years to hike from Lake Geneva to Nice, but this year we're planning to finish the job.

The Grand Randonnee 5 is one of the world’s greatest hiking trails, though the French manage to keep it secret from most other people. It starts in Belgium, crosses into France, winds beside the Rhine through the Alsace wine region, then climbs the Jura Range and descends to Lake Geneva. From there it heads across the Alps to Nice.

With my Dutch friends I’ve now walked most of the Alpine section, doing it a week at a time over four different years. This year we’ll start at Briancon and walk south for a week, thus filling in the missing link that has been beckoning us since 2005.


Ponte della Maddalena, Bagni di Lucca. Photo: tryitaly.com

Through this blog I was fortunate to come into cybercontact with Debra and Liz, Australians who, like us, spend some months each year at a base in Europe. Theirs is in the lovely north Tuscan spa town Bagni di Lucca which we’re looking forward to visiting. I heartily recommend their blog Bagni di Lucca and Beyond, for all interested in culture, architecture, photography, food and all good things Italian.

There are bound to be other adventures over the coming months, but this is a pretty damn good start. Stay tuned to this blog for the reports…


Filed under Cycle touring, Hiking, Holland, Italy, Travel- Europe