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In the Pays des Vallauds, it's forest that dominates the landscape and there is water running everywhere.
A chlorophyll-filled spectacle that is a feast for your eyes and your lungs.
Walkers reign supreme in these parts. Non-walkers as well, as long as they walk up to the Saut. Not to be missed.
At La Valla en Gier, they've worked out how to turn CO2 into a breath of fresh air, and there's nothing simpler.
A quick chemistry lesson. Take a site ideally situated in the middle of a valley. Add some water (a lot of water with dams, rivers, waterfalls) and a large quantity of trees - 1,600 hectares should be enough. If possible add in a few grammes of sunlight.
Leave to stand for about fifteen minutes (the time it takes to get out of Saint-Etienne). And that's it. You have your "pure air" guaranteed sulphate-free. Welcome to la Valla!
Here the best thing is do is ... to do nothing!
Just wander along the paths and trails (everyone at their own pace, we're not all equal when it comes to physical exertion).
Up at the top (go on, you can do it) there is a refuge (La Jasserie) in a middle of a huge area of grassland. You can rely on its funny bell (the Marie Jeanne), it serves to guide lost or disenchanted hikers. It is said to have guided the "reveries" of a certain solitary walker who went by the name of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1769.
In La Valla you will also be able to discover a small local curiosity: the "Chirats". watch out, they might look like cakes, but they are actually quite spectacular "stone runs" (they look like a cracked carpet of rock).
Now that you've risked your life getting up here (lol), it would be a shame to miss the best bit: the Saut du Gier (barely 300 metres higher than La Jasserie).
This is the name of the waterfall formed by the Gier which suddenly finds itself hemmed into a narrow gorge. The path is a bit uneven, but it's worth going out of your way for. You'll see, you won't even want to complain about the effort any more.
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