The perfect Sunday for me includes a long hike combined with a sunny blue sky. All week, I’ll check the weather forecast and if it is looking good, I start searching through one of my many walking guides. That is how I found the hike ‘Au Bois d’Eucalyptus’ in our neighbouring village, of all places! A walk through a eucalyptus forest sounded intriguing to me, so Chéri and I packed up the kids and a picnic and set off.
Funny how you sometimes discover surprising places just around the corner. I had found the eucalyptus forest thanks to our local French newspaper Midi Libre, who published these great walking guides last summer. The starting point for the hike is a bit difficult to find, but once you know it, it’s easy. When you leave Cessenon-sur-Orb in the direction of Saint-Chinian, go right on the round-about in the direction of Roquebrun. As soon as you have passed the bridge over the Vernazobre river, you will find a parking sign on your right (before the hamlet of Lugné, about 700 metres after the bridge). Following this sign will bring you to the hike’s starting point.
It surprised me to find a eucalyptus forest in the South of France. Apparently, this flowering evergreen has also set foot in other parts of the world besides the 92 million hectares of eucalyptus forest in Australia. However, it’s not remotely as widespread as in Australia of course. There are about 500 eucalyptus varieties in Australia, whereas France only has 10. And by walking the Au Bois d’Eucalyptus hike, you will discover two. After a little ascent, we spotted the first eucalyptus trees, the globulus variety with its remarkable white trunk. And when I crushed a leaf, we all could smell the typical eucalyptus scent.
The eucalyptus forest itself isn’t vast, but it is a pleasant hike anyway. You can do the big loop of 10 kilometres in 3 hours (including photo stops, of course, and a picnic), or you can take a short cut which cuts it down to 5 kilometres. Just follow the yellow markers and they will bring you through the eucalyptus forest, as well as some pine forest. We hesitated when we saw the yellow markers pointing both to the left and the right, but when we followed the ‘nr 12’ route pointing left, it took us on the big loop. And after about three-quarters of the hike, there was another confusing sign, pointing us in two different directions for the Sentier des Eucalyptus. Here, we went left again, following ‘Le Sentier du Rieuberlou’, which brought us back to the parking lot. Besides the eucalyptus trees, we saw vineyards, lots of strawberry trees, including spikey red/orange fruits and magnificent views. However, needless to say, we didn’t spot any koalas ;).