DISCOVER FRANCE ON FOOT: GET READY TO BE SURPRISED
Get your backpack ready, you'll rush to France after seing this video
2PVA COUNTRY EPISODES FRANCE
Get ready to discover France in a totally different way! We thought we knew our country but discovering it thru-hiking is something unique. From the Pyrenees to the Alps, we found wild and desert places, strong terroirs, proud and generous people. This is how we will remember our crossing of France.
Before being there, we had not imagined that, at the end of May, it would be difficult to find a negotiable passage in the Pyrenees. And yet, crossing the French border turned out to be difficult because of all this snow. Even if we prepared our thru-hike of Europe as much as possible, we could not predict EVERYTHING (fortunately) and even less the vagaries of the climate. With patience and research, it is finally at 2,000 meters high, near Puigcerda, that we entered our home country!
Overall, since the beginning of the trip, we have not been blessed by the weather. Where, in Portugal, they had not seen rain for 2 years, we had it for 3 weeks, day and night! The Spaniards told us that, in man's memory, we have never seen a winter so long and rigorous... In France, the daily storms almost did not leave us in peace until mid-July! Since we got in France, we have heard an "explanation": it is the year of the thirteen moons. The lunar month being slightly shorter than the solar month, in 2018, there will be 13 full moons. An old popular belief associates these years with natural disasters, particularly rainy periods and harmful to harvests. Funny year for an ultralight hiking trip across Europe!
It is in this humid atmosphere that we found France and quickly welcomed our sixth guest. Fran @frantictwalks is the editor of the website seizeyouradventure.com which tells the adventures and sporting achievements of people suffering from epilepsy.
Shortly after, Rémi @lenomaderandonneur joined us. Trek instructor, Rémi experienced everything during his stay: the changing weather, waiting for parcels, hard days of hiking, working days, great encounters…
If some pessimists told us that taking two steps towards the others being well received would be more difficult in France than elsewhere, we quickly had the confirmation that they were wrong. Obviously the fact that we are French, that we can talk about our project in our mother tongue helped to overcome a few barriers. Still, the welcome was generous, sincere and spontaneous and we stayed 60% of the time in local houses!
The list of unusual places in which we slept continued to grow: in a barn, in a cave, in a fruit and vegetable shack, in a winery where we probably should not have been, on the beach, on the stage of a village hall, in a farm...
Before leaving the mountains, we still had a good time bathing in the beautiful hot springs of Fontpédrouse and took a little history lesson spending a night in Latour-de-France, first French village after the border before the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 grants territories to France.
Then, finally, we reached one of the central points of our project: the Mediterranean! It is true, even if our curiosity pushes us to go to visit some neighboring countries, our thru-hike in Europe strives to discover the European countries which border the Mediterranean (except island countries). We were looking forward to seeing it! Our many meetings with the sea have been interspersed with returns inland, largely because, unfortunately, the Mediterranean coast is densely built. Still, we managed to find sublime and wild places.
The Gruissan ponds within the Narbonnaise Regional Park represent a unique natural heritage, a reserve for exceptional flora and fauna and rare colors. It is also one of the places where Marie spent a lot of holidays and where she was happy to come back.
The Camargue... It is hard to find the words to describe how we were surprised by this place. Obviously, the colors of the salt marshes took our breath away, of course the flamingos, herons and other birds in profusion, as well as the typical Camarguais horses marveled us, but what surprised us the most was the desert. On Vincent's advice, that we had met a little earlier, we wanted to go through Beauduc. Since Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer, we chose to go by the beach. A slight crust of salt covers a part of the beach, making it more passable, loaded as we are. We walked this coast for almost 24 hours and we spent the night on the beach without meeting anyone. It is the most gigantic beach we have ever seen, it is a desert of sand and salt, it is an unforgettable experience.
Arrived at Beauduc, we discovered hundreds of kite surfers coming from all over the world to ride this mythical spot.
Ok, we forget a detail that will seem insignificant after all this beauty: mosquitoes. On the beach where there was a little wind, we were spared, however in the marshes around the fortified city of Aigues-Mortes, we spent a terrible night. In Camargue, it is not good to sleep under a tarp, even tinkered with a last minute mosquito net.If we are regularly warned against bears, wolves or even dogs that we may come across on the way, we assure you that mosquitoes and ticks are much more terrifying for us! We often say that if we return from this thru-hike of Europe without any of the diseases they transmit, it will be a great victory…
Arriving at Carry-le-Rouet, we discovered a completely different decor that would follow us for some time: creeks. Until Marseille, we followed the GR®51 in a sumptuous setting of turquoise waters and idyllic coves.
After Marseille, we hiked it is in the National Park of the Calanques. It was without a doubt one of the most beautiful days of the trip, but the big drop, the rocky and sometimes slippery terrain, the unbearable heat and, consequently, the lack of water made it one of the most difficult days.
Our feet still remember these hard days. By the way, let's talk about our feet. On the health side, we are in great shape for almost 6 months now but we must admit that our feet have seen better days. The blisters, we make it our business, we know how to avoid them and they have not been a problem since our departure. However, the feeling of having two pieces of wood at the end of the legs each morning, we discovered it! The funny part is that we have pain when we do not walk. Nevertheless, it sometimes becomes worrying. Well, we know that we should stretch more, massage regularly, we are sometimes a little lazy on this side. We just hope that they will hold out for the remaining 7,000 km of our trip... on foot.
We arrived in Cassis exactly one month after our entry into France and without having found anyone to interview. Via the French Federation of Hiking of Bouches-du-Rhone, we met Bernard Bonetto. Bernard guided us between Cassis and La Ciotat among the superb Soubeyranes cliffs. He has devoted his life to the sporting community, especially with the association Ambition Réussite, but we do not tell you more, look at this:
Our last meeting with the sea was in Porquerolles. Difficult to avoid it there, it is an island, one of three of the Port-Cros National Park. Although Nil knows it like the back of his hand, spending the majority of his holidays as a child, she has still reserved a few surprises. Accompanied by four motivated people, we hiked around the island on foot, 35 km and comparable conditions to the Calanques. Those who thought they knew perfectly the island, had to admit they have never seen it that way!
These few days in Porquerolles were also an opportunity to spend some comforting family time.Porquerolles also witnessed an emotional sequence since we organized the first public screening of our videos!