To Port Brillet

by Administrator 31. May 2008 17:14

Saturday Chatillon en Vendelais to Port Brillet.

We knew this was a long day with no known ending, but set off in thick mist out of the village at first not even able to see the cows, but they soon appeared. Walked all day along country lanes with very little traffic and as warned by the helpful campsite manager in Fougeres no one goes there. The mist eventually turned into a warmish humid day and on a rise outside Port Brillet we found enough wind to help dry the tents as well as a welcome rest for the legs. We had covered around 20 miles and were entering Port Brillet and resigned to spending a night in a forest about 2 miles further on when we saw a sign for the Auberge du Village and since it is now a week since our last B&B we felt a night of comfort and a day not smelling too bad was called for. So a sit down meal in the restaurant tonight followed by a night inside for a change.
Link to where we are on Google Maps


To Chatillon en Vendelais

by Administrator 30. May 2008 19:03

Friday Fougeres to Chatillon en Vendelais.

Uneventful walking,enlivened only by the occasional herd of cows. The high spot of the day the drying of the tents in a deserted masonry store in the middle of nowhere.
After yesterday’s good walking on a disused railway line, we tried to pick up the same line running south out of Fougeres. This line however still had the lines and ballast on it and so was unwalkable. Maybe sometime SNCF (the French railways network), will turn this line as well into a walkable and cycleable route. I am sure that it will be much appreciated by both the locals and long distance walkers.
This is the last campsite before we step off tomorrow in to the wilds of rural France where only cows go.
It is however a great place, by the side of a lake created probably between the 2 world wars and inhabited by a few French people and no more than 6 at present on this Municipal site.
Les Municipals are a supremely French creation and are camp sites sponsored and run by the local council, some are now falling into disuse but many like this flourish on the earnings during the high season and are open during an extended summer season from april to end sept. They deserve support!
We arrived and pitched tents and then went into the village a little rain happened and on our return another hour of rain was followed by a very pleasant early evening of sunshine allowing me to cook outside my tent.
Link to where we are on Google Maps


To Fougeres

by Administrator 29. May 2008 15:53

Thursday. Chateau de Rocher to Fougeres.

Set off from the Gite d’etape that has not been open since 2000. The owner let us use it and only charged us 10 euros for the night with gas stove, hot water showers and beds that were only a bit musty. Picture of us departing in the morning - note Gite d’etape sign of tree above door. These Gites d’etape are found on the main GR walks, they are usually in a small village or other obvious place on or close to the line of the route and are a cut above a good Scottish Bothy and a step down fron a Youth Hostel. Beds and cooking facilities plus a shower, ? hot are the level. We were also given a litre of fresh milk probably straight from the cow. Audette, the lady who came summoned by her son to look us over and approve our ad hoc visit, lamented the closure of “her” Gite in 2000, as “ in the 80s it was the best in the area” and still attracts occasional stopovers like ourselves.

The walk today was uneventful and rapid progress was made down the route marked by the Pilgrims de Compostelle , following a disused railway line rather than the GR34 which wandered around the countryside a bit. We arrived in Fougeres at 13:30 and had just put up tents when the thunderstorm broke. Not too bad, we could have been walking.

We then spent a second downpour in the supermarche buying a paper map and stocking up food for 2-3 days as we may not see a significant town for that long.

We plan to follow the pilgrim route almost to Vitre as it seems generally superior to the GR in direction and condition of paths and then a GRP to Laval (3-4 days).
Link to where we are on Google Maps


Chateau de Rocher Portail

by Administrator 28. May 2008 14:49

Wednesday Antrain to Chateau de Rocher Portail.

Another wet night, even our little pitch under a nice thick beech tree was soaked. Up and at it, and after stoking the baguette fired boilers of our legs we set off out of Antrain - a pleasant small town (when dry). I will not bore with more detail of mud etc, suffice it to say that after a while we found ourselves on an old railway track (permissive path for the GR) that went up the valley of the River Loisance, a tributary of the Couesnon that we had followed vaguely from Mont St Michel. After following the GR way marks and not going through a tunnel we found we had done 1.5 km that could have been 100metres (maybe the permissive nature of the path affected the willingness to mark through a well maintained short light tunnel). The day continued and after a few more bits of river bank and puddle we reached our lodging for the night, Chateau de Rocher. See Pic A, most imposing building but unfortunately the Gite d’etape was not the main building but an old somewhat decaying stableblock or farm building out the back, and at that we had to cajole our way in as it has been closed since 2000! The sun came out as we arrived and the tents soon dried (less weight tomorrow with a longish day into Fougeres ahead).
Link to where we are on Google Maps


South to Antrain

by Administrator 27. May 2008 16:34

Tuesday Pontorson to Antrain

Wet night last night so tents soaking this morning, the evening was disturbed by 2 families of loud Brummies on holiday in the pitch next door, our fault should have noticed they were there but so used to sites being empty or nearly that didn’t think it was an issue. They really could not see why anyone would want to go to sleep before 11 pm.
Still a nice site and we were off at 07:30 when the bread man arrived. 2-3 miles of road to warm us up and cut off the meandering of the GR34 and 39, and then we hit the mud farm tracks with ponds of water from the rain in previous 24 hrs, up on to banks at the sides and hopping from patch of reed to patch of rock we made our way into the Foret de Villegartier, the way got easier in that there were still pools of water in the route but it was easier to circumnavigate them. Sights of the day (for Freddie) a stork with half a tree in it’s beak (didn’t know they came this far north), and a crested grebe on the lake in the middle of the forest diving among Kingcups.
Lots of old stone crosses around from the 1600’s plus some with very weather worn figures on them with a more celtic feel than most french religious icons.

Link to where we are on Google Maps


From le Mont St Michel

by Administrator 26. May 2008 16:37

Monday. Le Mont St Michel to Pontorson.

The campsite at LMSM is not wonderful the pitches are predictably over camped although the facilities are good and protected by electronic cards, the only place we’ve ever checked in to campsite at the hotel reception. Although the weather for the crossing of the bay was fine a full thunderstorm rained most of the night. This tested our little Laser Competition tents properly for the first time. They were not found wanting although Tim woke with the well known feel of a puddle under the groundsheet, a little water shipped over the edge of the groundsheet due to the presence of all the gear in the tent distorting it, and both rucksacks got wet under the flysheet porches due to ground water these were the fault of the pitch we were on not a tent problem.
We woke early and walked without gear back into LMSM proper and did the standard walk around as Tony had never done this including the cloistered garden high under the spire. This way we avoided the crowds but had a ridiculously priced petit dejeuner. We left the citadel just as the coaches were arriving, having got pilgrim passports stamped in the museum. An hour slowly taking down camp in sunshine allowed them to complete drying and we departed the fleshpots of Le Mont St Michel in good order.
A gentle amble for 4 miles up the River Couesnon stopping for lunch at one of the many well provided picnic spots arriving about 1400 hours (on our rest day) at a very nice 3 star campsite in Pontorson by the name of Camping Haliotsis to be asked if we were pilgrims for Compostella and given free camping when confirming this with our Pilgrim Passports. This site is on the main route south from LMSM so it is expected they would know of the walks but unexpected and very pleasant to be helped.

Link to where we are on Google Maps


To Mont St Michel

by Administrator 25. May 2008 19:33

St Jean de Thomas to Le Mont Saint Michel.

The bad weather yesterday really did us a favour by driving us into the great B&B we stayed at. Tony was lying in state on the double bed while Tim was composing the blog on the single in the corner of our room when he discovered that there are guided walks across the bay of St Michel from Genets (5 miles down the coast), to Le Mont St Michel. Great this saves 20-30 miles and at least a days walking. Having done the walk across the bay, this does carry a ‘do not attempt this at home’ sticker. We did it with a guide and a party of 30ish French from the same street in Caen who had come for a picnic and a day out on the sands. The four miles across the bay zigzagged across 3 main water courses (to mid thigh depth) and several mud flats and sinking sand bars. The youngsters in the party took great delight in jumping up and down on any quicksand they found which is much like walking over a layer of semi solid porridge. The crossing took 2 hours and there were 8-10 year olds in the party. We also passed a memorial on the shore to a rescue helicopter crew who died on surveillance duties only 10 years ago The weather across was perfect and the views make it a trip worth doing, to say nothing of the feel for the pilgrims of old who would have done it as we did in bare feet as no real option (I think their feet may have been tougher than ours though).
Link to where we are on Google Maps


South from Granville

by Administrator 24. May 2008 19:27

Donneville to St Jean de Thomas.

Woke up to a dry tent, no dew, then heard the first drops of rain, Tony’s tent under a tree so a rapid packing up of stuff managed to secure dry packs and everything for the day but the rain teased us all morning never raining hard but occasionally needing the capes. We arrived in Carolles just as the shops were closing at 12:30 m- anaged some shopping but the small supermarche was closed till 14:30. 2 bieres of elastic time ensued as the rain had now started in earnest. After doing the necessary shopping (tomorrow being Sunday) it was still raining and so we started to walk the final 4 miles along the cliff path to St Jean de Thomas. The path was a true cliff path and went up and down a bit and was somewhat overgrown so everything from mid thigh down was soon soaking wet and making squelching noises. There should have been fine views of le Mont St Michael (of which more over the next few days), but the visibility was too poor to see anything.
As we arrived in St Jean the wind picked up and signs for Chambres d’hote started to look very appealing. Trying to dry out in tents the size of ours while still raining is impossible. After the bureau of the campsite was not open at 17:10 and the temperature was starting to drop we found lodging with an elderly French madame (Madame Bollet) with no English who lit a fire to dry out our boots, using a bellows to get another log going, I don’t think I have seen someone use a bellows for real since I was a child.
On the way through the various villages en route, there were some very interesting styles of architecture, here a turret in the roof, there a boat mosaic built into the wall.
Link to where we are on Google Maps


South to Granville

by Administrator 23. May 2008 17:18

Friday MontMartin to Granville.

Started from the delightful quarry municipal site at 07:30 (if Tony Moores chose Tim’s new watch, then please select one with bigger numerals next time so that he doesn’t think that it is 1 hour later than it is!), up into village usual 2 baguettes eat one with ham and start walking, reach sea and an estuary uneventfully and walk up to the crossing place and then through more salt marsh and back lanes for a while to reach the beach. A final tramp along the beach saw us almost reach our goal for the day when the large black cloud that had been threatening for ½ hour started to pour. We just reached the bar at the edge of the campsite in time, to the amusement of the locals. It stopped after only 2 bieres (Betsy is right a pint is a unit of time).

Set up tents and did the usual things and were just discussing the next day when the elderly French couple in the camper van next door went off out in their Quad Bike with dog in the front carrier. ‘Wallace & Grommet Abroad’ could be Aardman’s next animated hit.

Link to where we are on Google Maps


Further south

by Administrator 22. May 2008 17:45

Thursday Geffosses to Mont Martin via Coutainville and Pont de la Roque

Set off early at 7am. Are French campsites like offers in supermarkets buy 3 get one free? Perfectly good site though and hot water because it’s fed from the school boiler next door which seemed to fire up every hour or so even through the night.
About 2.5 miles to the coast and then down the littoral again to Coutainville, lots of little beach huts with bright coloured roofs in the dunes.
Did a bit of shopping and then some road walking out of Coutainville followed by a couple of miles of salt marsh with sheep on which we had lunch. It was very peaceful.

All really going well until the Pont de La Roque. This is a bridge where the allied forces removed the central section by bombing in 1944. It took 3 straffing runs to remove it so it must have been well built. How long will the remainder of the bridge last for?

Then down into MontMartin to find the municipal campsite located in an old quarry (Andy Malkin eat your heart out!).

Food in town plus a couple of glasses of pression (first yet in France!) and back to the site for tea.
Link to where we are on Google Maps