top of page
  • Writer's pictureKate Woodman

Wild Women Walking/les femmes sauvages marchant 2022

These boots were made for walking.....

J’ai la bonne chance d’avoir beaucoup de copines, aux Etats-Unis ainsi qu'en France. Quelque de ces copines marchent au côté sauvage. La semaine dernière, quatre femmes sauvages ont fait une grande randonnée dans la région de Haute-Loire. Nous avons suivi la chemin de source et gorges de la Loire. La Loire est la plus long des fleuves français (1,012 kilometers). La chemin nous a emmenés le long des rives de la Loire, sur les pentes douces du Massif central, et à travers les rues sinueuses des villages perchés. Pendant 6 jours, nous avons traversé presque 120 kilometers, vers 20 kilometers par jour.

I am most fortunate to have many women friends, both in the US and in France. Some of these women walk on the wild side. Last week, four of those wild women embarked on the fourth annual Wild Women Walking week-long trek in the Haute-Loire region of France. We followed a path known as source et gorges de la Loire. The Loire is the longest river in France (almost 630 miles). The path took us along the banks of the river, up and down the gentle (some not so gentle) slopes of the Massif Central (a highland region in the middle of southern France, consisting of mountains and plateaus), and through narrow and meandering streets of small hilltop villages. Over 6 days, we walked almost 75 miles, about 12 miles a day.

Chaque année, les femmes sauvages choisissent un charité qui aide les femmes et les filles. Nous marchent pour recueillir des fonds pour cet organisme de bienfaisance. Nos amis nous soutiennent en faisant un don à cet organisme. L’organisme cette année est Malala Fund, qui croit que chaque fille partout mérite d’apprendre et de diriger.

Each year, the wild women select a charity that supports women and girls and walk to raise funds to support the charity. We are very grateful to the many friends who support our walk by making donations to the selected charity. This year we choose Malala Fund, an organization founded by the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai. Malala Fund believes that every girl everywhere deserves to learn and to lead. So too do the Wild Women.

Qui est les quatre femmes sauvages ? Maddy Cooper, Nancy Brune, Sue Milliken et moi. Maddy est anglaise, Sue est une "Kiwi" (néozélandaise) et Nancy est américaine comme moi. Pourquoi nous marchons ? Chacun a ses propres raisons. Moi, je marche pour l’amitié, pour apprécier le beauté de la nature, pour le défi physique, et pour soutenir l’organisme de bienfaisance.

So who are these wild women? This year: Maddy Cooper, Nancy Brune, Sue Milliken and me. Maddy is English, Sue is a Kiwi (New Zealander) and Nancy and I American. Why do we walk? Each of has her own reasons. I walk for the sustenance I find in the friendship of my women friends, to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us as we walk, for the physical challenge and to support women and girls.

Maddy, our leader, trip planner, spreadsheet wizard, driver and DJ

Nancy, map woman, chef extraordinaire, and coffee break doyenne

Sue, chicken coop manager, egg collector and best risotto maker

Yours truly, just trying to keep up......

Our walk this year started in Saint-Étienne and ended in le Puy-en-Velay. Le Puy-en-Velay is a popular starting point in France for people walking le chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle, also known as Santiago de Compostela, Camino de Santiago, the Way of Saint James. We were following a route known as la source et gorges de la Loire along the GR-3. "GR" stands for grande randonnée, a network of long-distance footpaths which in France alone cover approximately 60,000 kilometres (37,000 mi). Trails are blazed with characteristic marks consisting of a white stripe above a red stripe. These appear regularly along the route (on trees, street signs, fence posts, buildings), especially at places like forks or crossroads where, without the marks, it's easy to go the wrong way (believe me, I speak from experience!). Although our trail overlapped with the path to Compostela (marked by a scallop shell (saint jacques in French)) , we failed to meet a single person making the Compostela pilgrimage.

Our route.....

Every day we set out from our lovely Airbnb house in Solignac (close to le Puy-en-Velay) around 8:15. We'd drive 2 cars to the point at which our walk that day would end. We'd leave one car there and then drive to our starting point, leaving the second car there. We'd walk for several hours (10K steps was my marker that it was time for a break), stop for coffee and a sweet, walk some more, stop for lunch, and then walk the final few kilometers. We'd then drive back to our starting point for that day, pick up the second car and drive back to our Airbnb. We averaged 20K a day, taking about 7 hours (including breaks). One person was responsible for dinner each night, but we all pitched in. We ate VERY well.

Our lovely Airbnb rental.... l'Atelier de Mussic in Solignac-sur-Loire

Dinner first night: fresh asparagus with Nancy's mayonnaise as a starter. Making the mayo was a challenge as there was no dijon mustard to be found. Did you know that there is a shortage of mustard seeds (and hence a mustard shortage) because of drought in Canada, where 40 percent of the seeds for mustard production in Burgundy come from?

Day 1: Saint Victor-sur-Loire to Aurec-sur-Loire

La Loire at Saint-Victor-sur-Loire

La Loire at Chambles

Eglise de Saint-Victor-sur-Loire

This donkey just wouldn't take his nose out of the feedbag!

Day 2: Aurec-sur-Loire to Bas-en-Basset

La Loire at Aurec-sur-Loire

La Loire at Aurec-sur-Loire

La Loire at Aurec-sur-Loire

Coffee break

Big sky at Mayol

More big sky at Malvalette

Day 3: Bas-en-Basset to Brenas

Fishing bait and tackle shop with the best wrotten fish in the window .... Bas-en-Basset

Maddy and me suited up for rain.....

Lots of cows.....note the fashionable blue nose ring!


Cows at Pirolles

Nancy leads a yoga class after lunch....

Walking through the fields at Beauzac

Day 4: Brenas to Roche-en-Régnier (longest day)


Calvaire at Saint-Ignac

The smiles say it all.....lunch break

Sue walking through ubiquitous scotch broom

Cattle going home - Roche-en-Règnier

Day 5: Roche-en-Régnier to Lavoûte-sur-Loire


I think the one on the right got lost.....his peeps are below.....


Final day 6: Lavoûte-sur-Loire to le Puy-en-Velay Cathedral



Walking towards Forteresse de Polignac

Approaching le Puy-en-Velay....the view is dominated by the 10th-century Chapelle de Saint-Michel perched on a volcanic peak located just north of the town, as well as the 19th-century iron statue of Notre-Dame de France.

Chapelle de Saint-Michel....we did NOT climb to the top as one wild woman suggested....

Lovely wisteria-bedecked house across from the le Puy cathedral

The wild women celebrate the end of their 75-mile trek on the steps of the cathedral in le Puy-en-Velay

This wild woman is particularly pleased to celebrate not only the end, but also the fact that she completed all 6 days with only one sore toe and a slightly gimpy knee....


If you would like to make a donation to Malala Fund, click here.

Recent Posts

See All

1 comentário

Nancy Flight
Nancy Flight
18 de mai. de 2022

All looks and sounds amazing! Can't believe you had the energy to cook every night, however!

bottom of page