At the end of the trail, in a cabin that looked almost as ancient as the trees around it, was a teahouse. The walls inside were rough-hewn, the tables battered, the large stone fireplace blackened with soot, the windows (improbably enough) hung with faded pink toile de Jouy. Empanadas had been set out on a counter, along with selections of soda and tea. After a while the cook, a tall and sturdy woman, her long black hair streaked with gray, emerged from the kitchen. "Welcome to the forest," she said, a proprietary gleam in her eye. I felt privileged to be there.
Frank Rose is a contributing editor at Wired. His piece on walking in the Loire Valley is featured in Travel + Leisure's Unexpected France (DK Publishing, $25).