Now we have made the move to the city, I already miss nature. Therefore, needing a gulp of fresh air, I packed up the family for a glorious Sunday stroll. On to Ceps, one of the three hamlets that form Roquebrun, to walk the l’Ayrolle hike. It’s a beautiful round walk that brings you through a varied landscape of gorges, forests, hamlets and, of course, the Southern French scrubland called garrigue.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret moving to Béziers. And even from here, we’re close to many gorgeous natural sites, like the Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park in the south part of the Massif Central. The twins and I had done the Mont Ayrolle hike at Ceps before in winter, starting in the opposite direction. It was already beautiful then, but I wanted to go back to see the landscape with leaves on the trees. This time, we decided to follow the indicated way. Coming from Roquebrun, you have to take a sharp left to arrive at Ceps. The parking is just in front of the bridge. To walk to the start of the hike, you’ll have to cross the 19th century bridge and turn left. On your left again, you’ll find a map and information about the area.
Being Dutch, we would call the Ayrolle a mountain. But with its altitude of 450 meters, it’s more of a hill. As the trail leads you around the Ayrolle and the Cayre (451 meters), you will climb- and descend 338 meters. It started with a modest climb that brought us along the gorges of the Orb river. From above, we had some stunning views of the gorges and surroundings of vineyards on the rolling hills. Continuing our way, we soon enough spotted the village of Vieussan. This amphitheatre-shaped village is located in such an amazing spot: right on a hill with the Caroux mountain in the background. You can prolong the hike with a little detour of 1 kilometre to the village and back.
We didn’t go to Vieussan this time, as we thought the hike was 10 kilometres, and anything above is a no-go for the kids. So, we took a left by following the single yellow stripe that marked the Ayrolle circuit. Via a little, slightly rocky ascent, we arrived at the D177 route and reached the Col du Bac. The winding road made us look back from where we came, giving a magnificent look at the ‘Dame Allongée‘ (the reclining woman) as Mont Caroux locally is known. We only had to walk a short distance on the road before we were back on track into a forest. I was hoping to find some ‘cèpes‘ in the woods. Although we saw quite a few mushrooms, we didn’t find the cep ones (called ‘squirrel bread’ in Dutch).
If you take a close look, you will notice a cave on your lefthand side. We had done the walk before, so we knew this former manganese mine was there, but I think you can easily miss it. Up until this moment, the kids were on fire, leaving Chéri and me out of breath on this last climb. Therefore, as soon as the hard part was over, we stopped for a well-deserved picnic. And from here, the path went downwards and was effortless. In 2.5 hours, we arrived back in Ceps, having walked ‘only’ 8 kilometres. So, we could have visited Vieussan after all, staying well within our children’s limit of 10 kilometres!