On a 10-day hiking tour in the south of France our author finds farming in decline as a land of glorious countryside figures out its future

I have a chastening photographic memento of my first trip to Provence, aged 21. I’m slouching against a wall in a back alley in Cannes, dressed in a striped matelot’s shirt, and holding a 16mm Bolex cine camera – the very picture of a nouvelle vague director. It isn’t clear what the camera is pointed at. I’d hired it to film flamingos on the Camargue saltmarshes, but got carried away by the Riviera’s glamorous ambience and took it to the beach, where I promptly dropped it in the sea. It felt like a parable about the insidious impact of tourism in the Mediterranean, a postscript to the process that had led to the naming of Nice’s seafront the Promenade des Anglais.

Several decades later, my partner, Polly, and I fancied trying another kind of Provençal promenade. We were both seriously in thrall to the south of France and wanted to challenge our ageing bodies to 10 days’ sauntering in the remote heart of the region, far from the coastal hustle, among the limestone hills and lavender. We wouldn’t book anywhere to stay in advance, we’d carry everything we needed on our backs, and we’d aim for an inland area that looked encouragingly wild and barely populated.

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Source: Gaurdian

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