One of the things I was most looking forward to doing in the South of France was hiking. You can't possibly stay in the mountains and not go for a hike, can you? We found out from some locals that there were a few good hiking trails a short drive from our base in Puivert, in the small village of Nebias. There are two main trails, 'le sentier nature' and 'le labyrinth vert', both under 10km and taking two and a half hours and an hour and a half respectively. We hiked both of them on two separate afternoons, grabbing the chance to get out in between rainy spells and toddler naps. Le Sentier Nature takes you through the forest, and is an easy hike on your feet. Just a few tricky bits to navigate, but easily done with a toddler strapped to your front or back. We stopped a few times on flat ground to let Rory explore, and gave her bits of moss, lichen and other plants to touch. Le Labyrinth Vert was a trickier trail as it takes you through a huge maze of rocks. It's easy to trip up, and even easier to get lost. You have to pay really careful attention to the trail signs which aren't always that easy to see. That hike is almost all under the cover of the tree canopy, so although it's a wonderfully peaceful walk you don't get much in the way of views. But it's a really unique trail, and well worth the risk of getting lost! Perhaps just don't walk it too close to sundown...
Both these trails were perfect for a slow morning or afternoon hike. All you need is a bottle of water, some trailmix and you're good to go. They're easy to fit in between mealtimes and naps, which is always at the forefront of your mind if you have small children to consider. It wasn't quite picnic weather when we went, but there's a good spot at the start or end of each trail by an old ruined windmill to have lunch with some great views of the mountains. There aren't really any great picnic spots in the middle of each trail. The best thing to do, in my opinion, is hike up there in the early afternoon and then treat yourself to a cold beer from Brasserie Du Quercorb on the drive to Puivert. They brew all their own beer in house using Pyreneen water, and the view of the mountains you get while drinking it doesn't hurt the taste one bit.
Before I left for France, I searched everywhere for a new pair of boots to take with me. Most of my old pairs of shoes have worn out, and as I'm trying to reduce the amount of things I own I wanted to make a purchase that I could wear in a few different situations. I wanted some adventure boots, for both city and countryside wanderings, something sturdy and comfortable but stylish and low key enough to wear with jeans around the city. They also had to be vegan, ethical and preferably British made. Not the easiest of criteria! After many weeks of research, I discovered Will's Vegan Shoes and knew I had found what I was looking for. I settled on a pair of Women's Work Boots* in Chestnut to be my new adventure boots.
So far, I've worn them on a long day walking around Hampstead Heath carrying Rory on my front and a backpack with camera gear and snacks on my back. I've worn them on these two mountain hikes, plus general everyday wear, and most of it while carrying a heavy load. The only part of my body that hasn't suffered as a result of all the weight I've carried has been my feet! They're the most comfortable, stylish and versatile shoes I've ever owned and I can't say enough good things about them or Will's. It's so fantastic to find a small company making ethical, affordable and stylish footwear.
GIVEAWAY! (starts Thursday 30th March)
I'm collaborating with Will's Vegan Shoes over on Instagram for the chance to win a £100 voucher to spend on a pair of shoes. Do hop on over to my Instagram to find out how to enter! It's a fun one using my hashtag #thewildnesstonic too. Competition ends on Thursday 6th April and is open to those living in the UK only.
*Will's gifted me a pair of boots in exchange for a review, but all views are very much my own. I have a strict policy of owning promoting items that I would buy myself, from companies who's values align with my own.