Discovering the Voie Verte

The weather started off a little cooler than it had been for a while so I suggested we all make the most of it and head out for a walk. I love the warm, sunny weather but also like to be able to get out and about without having to worry about anyone getting too hot or sunburnt, which at 30 degrees or more is easily done. Walk-wise, we decided to head down the road to Rivel to join one of France’s long-distance shared-use paths, Le chemin des Filatiers, a 38km traffic-free route from Lavelanet to Mirepoix, which passes through there, not far at all from where we’re living. It’s on my to-do list of routes to ride in future, hopefully as a multi-day family trip, so I thought it would be nice to take a look at a section of it and that it would also make a nice easy walk for DS (he’s been on his feet for 6 weeks now and is loving his new-found freedom). We also need to try and make sure DD gets a good runaround every day as she’s much happier for spending time outdoors (as well as more likely to go to bed at a decent time!)

Of course, by the time we got ourselves organised the sun was out at full strength again, but we slathered on the Factor 50 and went anyway. We didn’t want to go far – it was really a chance for me to have a nosey at the nearest access point to our house, thinking of short rides with the kiddies, and to just get out of the house for some fresh air. We drove down to Rivel and on to the old station, which is just off the Rivel-Chalabre road. Immediately after turning off you’re on the voie verte and see the signs off to the left, where the route heads towards Lavelanet. We drove along the tarmaced road until we got to the bollards signalling the start of the next traffic-free section. We parked, lifted DD into the sling (she was fast asleep), filled up our water bottles, then set off. DS was on foot and making light work of it! He loves to walk, just like his big sister.

James and DD in a wooded section at the start of the route to Chalabre from Rivel

The first section was shaded by high hedgerows, reminiscent of the Trans-Pennine Trail that was local to our old house, then it opened up into a long straight stretch, with Chalabre in the distance.

Because by now the sun had come out and was in full force again, we turned off the route at this point and went down a track towards the river, hoping to find a shady spot for a snack stop and maybe also a quick paddle, but it was not to be. There was a spot where we could have scrambled down to the bank with slightly older children in tow, but not practical with two small ones in slings, so we turned back and headed to the beginning again. I think we walked about 5km in total, there any back. It’s only a short stretch – 5km – from Rivel to Chalabre so we made it half way. With better planning it would be easily do-able as a family walk – good for buggies – and also a very easy cycle ride, so definitely one to do again, perhaps with a picnic stop by the river and playground before making the return journey? If I get my act together, it might be possible to cycle to the creche once DS starts doing longer hours. I love living here.