For years I have seen the ads and the posters inviting people to come out for hikes that end with a communal meal, but before last Sunday I had never participated in one. An old student of mine invited us to come out for such a randonnée last weekend and we decided to check it out. We gathered at the activity centre in St Mélaine sur Aubance at 9 am and signed up for the hike and meal. There were three circuits available at 8, 13 and 18 km. We went for the 13 km one and opted for the meal at the end.
We started with a coffee and then headed out on the marked path. After about 4 or 5 km there was a refreshment stand with brioche, hunks of chocolate, pain au chocolat, apples and water. It didn't seem like we needed refreshment, but we stayed and nibbled and chatted for a few minutes before continuing on. We wandered through vineyards, villages and hamlets, sometimes walking along roads, but mostly keeping to small paths. After a few hours of walking, we arrived back at the activity centre to be greeted with a glass of rosé. We then sat down to a meal which included spaghetti bolognese, cheese, wine, dessert and coffee. The cost of the event was 7€ and all proceeds went towards helping people in a specific village in Senegal. There were probably a couple of hundred of us between the three circuits and it was all in all a very enjoyable time!
I have to say, we're not usually early risers on the weekend, since we both have to get up early during the week, and if we do go for hikes it's usually in the afternoon. But it was so nice to get out early, get 13 km in before lunch and then still have the rest of the day to do other things. I think we may start doing this a little more often!