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LIVE from the Camino Camino from home (part II) Cherbourg to ??

roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Since can't do a Live from pre-fix on " other routes in France" I am going to pop this in the nearest option.

I cobbled together a camino route from home in Ireland. Last summer I did the Irish leg, and now I am in France, having taken ferry to Cherbourg. So I started on a Chemin de Mont Saint Michel pilgrims route (pilgrims to the Mont are called Miquelots) and after 28km mostly of paths and lanes I am in Le Rozel in a pilgrims gite. The photos on the walls are camino related - mojons, leaving Lisboa on camino, botufermio swinging in SdeC. It's making me feel quite pilgrim like!
20220809_173925.jpg 20220809_150549.jpg
 
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roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Day 2 in France, the Chemin StMichel route follows a GR route mainly, but given GR have some particular rules that often add distance I am quite good at sniffing out a better or more direct route after walking the VF in France- and this GR follows the coast on Sentier Douanes ie Customs paths. And today I was feeling tired after walking in the afternoon yesterday, so shortcuts were welcome!
Le Rozel with its chateau and church bathed in the orange glow of sunrise were a beautiful start to the day. But leaving I ditched the GR and instead of walking the edge of the headland I cut over it. And glorious views of a beach were to be found! The tide was just going out, and the firm sand was perfect to walk on, listening to lapping waves. Met my first nudists of the trip enjoying the early sun- it did look tempting on the empty beach...(west coast of France is popular with nudists apparently.) Then returned to the marked GR on road and track, before a sandy dune path in the Hattainville Dunes and this was hard work until downhills when every step let you slide further.
Barnevile-Carteret was my destination- very touristy little resorty type town, so thronged! But I also remember why walking in France is great- boulageries! The fresh bread, croissants and baked goods...Good thing I am walking to burn off all those carbs! Camping tonight with the luxury of a swimming pool, perfect on a warm afternoon to cool off
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roving_rufus

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
So day 3 was a different pilgrimage, to one of my Granny's favourite places - Jersey. As I was so close i caught a ferry from Carteret but given the heatwave and my original plan to walk in June rather than battle tourist season in August- (with accomodation issues even on campsites), I decided to return via a different route using a ferry from Jersey to Granville. So I have leapfrogged a few stages.
And it is hot...normally the French come to the region to escape the heat!
So Day 4 becomes Granville to Genets. Today I followed, to start with the GR on the Sentier Littoral ie the coastal path. To beat the heat I left in the light of the full moon, saw soon shooting stars before the colours of first light started to be reflected on the sea. I deviated from the GR to walk the 4km prom at the seafront in Jullouville (the Gr heads up into the hills) but with the tide coming in I definitely couldn't walk the beach as it was a fairly high tide. Then climb up steep rough steps to a viewpoint and the beginning the cliff path.

This is when I wished I had followed my alternate plan to head up the GR into the hills but then to deviate using a greenaway/ Voie Verte on an old railway. Instead i chose promenade followed by the GR cliff path. And it was glorious! I would have enjoyed it was a day hike of just the cliff path but it was hard work with ups and downs, sheer drops and rocky sections that involved scrambling which is difficult with a rucksack of camping gear. If anyone is planning this route, unless you are a mountain goat, I would probably find an alternative. I got to a set of steps and got to the end of myself, I just couldn't climb them, I sat down, pulled myself from the brink of tears and ate some trail mix and Haribo sweets. I managed to continue to St Jean le Thomas, and found a shady spot overlooking the beach until I completely felt okay. The rest of the day was easy walking in comparison, but that cliff walk in the heat really took it out of me. Now sitting in the shade in Genets, looking at Mont St Michel out in the bay, and being thankful that I didn't fall on the rocky sections and that I don't have any more cliff paths in the near future!
 

mspath

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Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
roving_rufus,
Glad that you made it safely to Genets.That view across the bay is indeed spectacular. It should be splendid tonight in the moonlight.
Your posts are wonderful please do keep writing when you can.
Stay safe and Carpe diem.
 

roving_rufus

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
So Day 5 at 35° is hot in Normandie, and normally that sort of temperature would see me start early and finish by noon if possible. However, today was different as one of the traditional routes for pilgrims going on pilgrimage to Mont Saint Michel is to cross the bay on foot. A couple of Chemins Mont St Michel converge at Genets, and from here you can take a guide to cross the bay on foot at low tide. It's a popular tourist activity so easy to book a crossing in summer. But today the crossing started at 12.30 and we arrived on Mont St Michel at 3.30, walking across the treacherous sands, wading though remaining rivers, and getting very very hot mid afternoon, with nowhere to take a break in shade.
But Mont Michel was such an important place of pilgrimage so coming here is special but if you think the number of tourists in SdeC is crazy, here is utter madness!
Staying on the Mont in the Maison de Pelerins, which is quite lovely with views of the bay. Went to evening vespers in the Abbey which was sung by the monks and nuns here, in a grand soaring church. It was suggested to bring food ( there is a kitchenette) as food on the Mont is expensive and not great due to tourist aimed enterprises, so made some dinner, now waiting for the high tide which will actually surround the Mont (it happens 12 times a year)- so quite thankful to be able to stay on the Mont and to see it as the island it can be
 
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roving_rufus

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Day 6 meant leaving Mont Saint Michel. But I got up early to enjoy the place before the hoardes descended. Even at 6am a group of 20 tourist had just arrived. There is now a bridge that allows high tide to properly surround the Mont, and this happens 12 times a year- and last night was one which was quite exciting!
Leaving means walking away with your back to the Mont, but as the day dawned and the sky coloured it was meant I kept turning round to see all the way to Beauvoir (4km from Mont) when the path following a river channel bends and it finally disappeared from view. But at Beauvoir I saw my first camino marking which was exciting with blue and yellow shell! I am now on the Voie des Capitales, and it managed by the Breton association which is large and active - todays route was well marked and they have an amazing website with accomodation and route guides

Today was divided in thirds- 11km to Pontorson on a gravel track by the river, and the delights of town with bank, bar, boulagerie and shop even on a Sunday morning. The next 11km to Antrain were on a road that was an old railway line, its a bike route and cars etc are limited to residents- it was very straight and slightly uninspiring middle section. From Antrain ( which has a municipal pilgrim gite!) it was 11km mainly on paths and lanes through woods and fields, very pleasant except for the rain. So after 33km I am in Romazy, the bar here offers pilgrims dinner, bed and breakfast at a special rate, so given the threat of thunderstorms I decided not to camp tonight.
So today I am thankful for the Breton association's marking of the route which was great from Pontorson onwards. And thankful for a break in the heatwave, being Irish I'd take rain over 36° for hiking any day! 20220814_062222.jpg 20220814_084305.jpg
 

roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Day 7 is the rolling hills of Bretagne with woods, fields of cows and crops. Today was one of those pleasant unremarkable days of walking- nice scenery but not spectacular, a mix of paths, roads and tracks, passing through villages. It was a little murky and misty this morning, then that bright overcast sky, but just 24°. Camping tonight in St Medard sur Ille.
Its 15th August, the Assomption and a public holiday in France, so all is strangely quiet. And nearly everything closed. I was well prepared with food, but when I saw a shop open in the first village of the day, it was just too tempting to pass without buying a banana and a packet of crisps, complete impulse buys! But it's always good to know when holidays fall so you don't get caught out. (And August is a popular time for bars boulageries and small shops in France to close for 1-2 weeks for holidays, just s a heads up!)
Thankful for having one of those quiet, pleasant days of walking, in pleasant places without excitement, it somehow is good and restful for mind and soul.
 

roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Day 8 didn't go as planned. I rolled my ankle yesterday arriving in St Medard, it all seemed okay until I started to walk on it this morning. Nothing serious but certainly not up to the 29km to Rennes were I have a hotel booked. I decided to see how far I would get as there were several train stations or bus stops close to the route today.
It started to rain as soon as I started walking but at least my tent came down dry. Today was along the Ille and Rance canal - so really easy walking, and at least every 2km there was something to see: A railway bridge at an acute angle giving interesting angles and geometry (geeky but I have a degree in Maths). Between the next two locks was a serious of art picture photo display of tiny people toy figurines looking at nature. Then at St Germain is the workshop for the wooden doors of locks, so if you're been near a French canal it's lock came via there. ...so I got to 15km in Betton and decided to pull the plug on walking today...my ankle is okay but I don't want to push it any further. So bus it is.
But it gave me more time in Rennes which is a cute little city...visited cathedral, looked at old wooden beamed houses and then since I am in Brittany it was time for a galette (something like a savoury version of a crepe). Headed to the art museum- interesting mix of items! But very fun and nostalgic temporary exhibition on "fêtes" ie parties- lots about dancing, music, festivals, it made a smile alot and even laugh which means it's probably a great exhibit after 2 years of covid, whoever the curator is chose well.

Now I am lying with an elevated foot, trying to adjust my plans (thankfully I have nothing booked beyond today) as my ankle is okay but certainly not fit for long days with a heavy pack with camping gear.
So I am thankful for the rain 🌧 waiting until I got my tent packed up, and for the fun in the art museum ( somehow that sounds wrong, museums are supposed to be serious, aren't they?)
 
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roving_rufus

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Day 9 - ankle is feeling improved but only 18km day today to Pont Rean. The next few days are following a path by the Villaine river - it was canalised back in 1542 allowed boats to pass between Rennes and the sea. So it looks like a river but has a haulage path by it and a few locks. Commercial barges used it until 1980s, now only pleasure boats travel it, and the haulage path is a cycle route. So very easy walking today, by river with trees, and a great way to leave a city. Now in Pont Rean, a cute riverside village - spent afternoon in garden bar under weeping willow by river but now hiding out from thunder and lightning and rain.
 
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roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Day 10- I decided on a semi rest day - stomach is feeling a bit off, ankle still not 100%, and so I walked 11km along the river to Bourg des Comptes and now all set up in campsites. Nice river walk with 2 old Mills, and a train line to keep me entertained with passing trains. Now time for laundry and then rest!
 

roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Day 11
Currently hiding in laundry room on campsite waiting for rain to stop so I can put up my tent (no one likes wrestling with a tent in the rain).
So I walked 18km on the chemin de haulage by the river Vilaine - one shower of rain when I stopped to brew up coffee on my stove but then dry until I arrived at camping. Encountered my first troublesome dog today- one of those tiny "rat-sized" things that think it has to make up for size by barking and a little aggression - it might have gone for an ankle but with no owner in sight a few waves of my umbrella kept him at bay. Otherwise a lovely riverside walk - cliffs, trees, fields (including sunflowers) and plenty of benches at regular intervals.
Arrived in Guipry-Messac just after 12noon, which in France is lunch time (oh for Spain and slightly later lunchtimes!) And the bar had a plat du jour - just what I had been dreaming of as a perfect lunch - steak et frites! Having demolished that, I discovered the boulagerie was closed for holidays - the last open one was in Rennes city centre, so missing my French bread quota.
At camping at edge of town, showered and laundry washed but it's raining and I am too lazy to walk back into town in the rain to a bar- so hiding out in laundry room, and charging phone ( which is another useful task completed)
I may be a day behind schedule but thankful for arriving dry, the dreamed of plat du jour and a nice laundry room to wash, charge phone and relax in.
 

roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Day 12
And after several grey days ( and lots of rain yesterday afternoon and evening) the sun has come out! A touch of mist early made the river quite lovely. But today is my last day following the Viliane. And it was a great day- extremely little tar, mostly gravel but a few km of dirt path, combined with the river meant today was a good day. The Breton Amis have this well signed but they are the small blue and yellow version of the red/white of GR so you have to keep your eyes peeled! And today I knew the marked route left the river for a town with bar, superette boucherie etc and a little bit of history in Langon with old standing stones and a few Roman remains. After stocking up, it was back to the river to Besle and the campsite.

In case anyone is thinking of this route - you don't need to camp! There is a chain of pilgrim hosts, gites d'etape, youth hostels - and several campsites offer cabinetapes- basic wood structure designed for one night stays by hikers/bikers. Camping can be cheaper and is more flexible.
 
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tynephil

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
September/October 2023
Since can't do a Live from pre-fix on " other routes in France" I am going to pop this in the nearest option.

I cobbled together a camino route from home in Ireland. Last summer I did the Irish leg, and now I am in France, having taken ferry to Cherbourg. So I started on a Chemin de Mont Saint Michel pilgrims route (pilgrims to the Mont are called Miquelots) and after 28km mostly of paths and lanes I am in Le Rozel in a pilgrims gite. The photos on the walls are camino related - mojons, leaving Lisboa on camino, botufermio swinging in SdeC. It's making me feel quite pilgrim like!
View attachment 130810 View attachment 130811
It is great to read your account of your journey. I am planning on walking from Jersey (the place of my birth), next autumn. I wish you well and look forward to future stages.
 

roving_rufus

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Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
It is great to read your account of your journey. I am planning on walking from Jersey (the place of my birth), next autumn. I wish you well and look forward to future stages.
Some great info on Breton Amis website about the Voie des capitales, and the Anjou Amis on the Plantagent route (both from Mont St Michel). And also Vendee....with route, accommodation and maps/GPS. And worth staying with pilgrim hosts as some have walked camino.
 
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roving_rufus

Active Member
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Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Day 13
Leaving the Vilaine today, which means climbing up out of the river valley- the first hill in a week. So we have moved now into Loire-Atlantique, and different camino signage with blue sticks with a yellow shell with the point giving the direction- these are much harder to spot! ( and been warned the sigage is just okay and that I would need gps)
So today is divided in three (unequal) sections. First is 8km of quiet roads climbing up out of valley, past farms until you see the giant water tower. Then the second stage comes with 2km of dirt path on old railway track and a drop in Guemene Penfao. And here the town is very camino aware- modern statue of StJaques and stone marker outside the church, metal shell nails. And the bakery had a special Composelle cake - in shape of shell.
Now in another river valley - the Don, and the camino follows the river on dirt paths. One in the woods the marked trail goes up a steep hill this is to avoid fording a stream- but with low water levels I kept straight on by river and the stream was one step wide (and had enough rocks except if full flow). And I met Anik Marin, a passionate local supporter of the route (which is two-way for Compostelle and North to Mont Saint Michel) who was out marking the route. Lovely chat with her!

Then I headed off piste to the creperie at Moulin de Juzet, which is in perfect setting with outdoors seating by the river and a castle with fairytale turrets towering overhead. Just one problem....it started raining 🌧. Fortified with galette and a crepe, I headed out in the rain. And having come down into a river valley now was the time to climb up but mostly on paths and tracks, to reach a small Chapel (with a recently added statue inside of St Jacques/James/Santiago) and open for a wet pilgrim to have a rest in the dry. A little path took me down to the road, and here I split from the marked route (which goes to Marsac sur Don) to instead head for the Etang de la Roche.
So for the third part of day of road walking (but one car on a wide 2lane road) but soon enough I was dropping don to the small lake which is a park with tables, path round lake and a restaurant whose owners have opened a small pilgrim gite. It is pretty basic- outside tap (plastic basins provided) and no toilets or showers (there are toilets 5 minutes away in park). But inside is cosy with three beds, chairs, lots of books, maps and leaflets about the camino. But I got a great surprise as Anik turned up with hot tea and goodies for me! We had a great natter in my poor French and her smattering of English about the camino.
 

roving_rufus

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Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Day 14
Slept so well last night! And thanks to Anik's goodies had a hard boiled egg for breakfast. But it felt like home in Ireland looking out the window this morning - grey and mizzle. But onwards- first thing toilet stop on way of leaving the lake. Then a few kilometres to rejoin the camino at a section of roman road. And more road walking in the damp, past farms- saw a sheepdog rounding up cows for milking, and another farmer harvesting maize. Then into Le Gavre- they have an outdoor art exhibition, including a piece from Anik Marin (who I met yesterday) called 'portes de la foret' and are painted on wardrobe doors ( made me think of Narnia in Lion Witch & wardrobe). Thankfully the bar was open for a coffee (due to close for vacances on Wednesday) but felt a little intimidated by all the men so drank and left, hwading to park as dry. But rain started and i took shelter in the playpark in a boat shaped playhouse. Then onwards- a voie verte on old railway line (unfortunately tarred rather than gravel) which took me to Blain.
But it's Monday, all is closed! But Lidl saved me! And I reached the canal Nantes à Brest. The campsite is beside the chateau (also a gite d'etape is here too) and now sun is out and I am all settled in with tent up, laundry done.
 

roving_rufus

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Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Day 15
So the campsite was beside a main road last night- earplugs definitely came in handy. Was up early as had 30km day planned. So from Blain the official marked route follows the canal, but there is an alternative route that is in some of the guides (not the Breton Amis' stuff) and used to be marked (some markings are still there) but it's much shorter. This alternative follows an old railway track, a little futtery to find ts start but then it's keep straight!
So leaving camp I head out on to main rd and a bike path, over roundabout and in 400m leave bike path& cross main road on to start of old rail line on a lane. But the trick is in 500m joining a tar bike path is to fork off left - there are 2 different old railway tracks diverging here! And then for 20km or so its gravel tracks, lanes and dirt paths on flat and shady way, to reach Treillieres. (There are no services on this route - no benches, water etc- but I did come across an interesting art exhibition in a wood) Treillieres has all services- supermarche, boulagerie, bar, and restaurant. And since I arrived at 12.10 it was perfect time for lunch - roasted chicken, potatoes and salad followed by chocolate cake - throughly stuffed! Slow to move initially, i was soon back in the swing for the final 7km of the old railway- and alot more people walking and cycling this section than earlier (met a local hiking group and those 8 were all I saw until Treillieres). But it was getting hot - it's been humid since first thing, so being in a tree-lined track was great! Then came Chappelle sur L'Erdre, finishing point for today.
And it can be interesting finding stamps (tampons) in France - it was my third attempt and the bar had one- and had a lovely chat with the lady behind the bar who sees a tiny trickle of pilgrims but she was surprised as I was the second of the day!
 

roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Day 16
Short day today heading into Nantes. And three distinct stages- leaving La Chapelle sur Erdre on streets and dirt paths following the railway line. Then nearing through Château de la Desnerie, its a dirt/gravel paths in woods by river, and those gravel paths continue with shady trees until near the city centre. Then onto quays by river and into the centre of the city to the cathedral. Unfortunately the cathedral here is closed after arson a couple of years ago but signs of building activity. So now of to enjoy the delights of Nantes!
 

roving_rufus

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Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Day 17 - Last Day
Wasn't sure I was actually going to walk today or just enjoy Nantes, but ended up walking so that when I return I can pick up at the edge of the city.
So a few kilometres of city walking from cathedral - and I ignored the camino markings which detour to a church- instead keeping going across the Ile de Nantes and leaving the island with a 2nd crossing of the Loire river to reach Pirmil.
Leaving the city is on a riverside walk along the river Sevre, but its mainly tarred paths out to the ecluse (lock) at Vertou. Lots of walkers, cyclists etc out of exercise, and usefully about half way is a little park with playground with toilets and water tap.
But then big signs to say works on river path due to be completed May 2022 and that the path was closed. I reached the section that was shut - of course works weren't finished in May - and scrambled up a dirt path and onto a detour through residential area before dropping back down to the river at the ecluse & Chaussee des Moines at Vertou. And so to the end of this walk for me - had a drink at the bar at the lock before catching bus back into Nantes.
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
roving_rufus,
Félicitations on completing this section of your journey! It was a pleasure to follow your route and share your daily meander.
Stay safe and Carpe diem!
 

roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Some thought on the Voie des Capitales from Mont Saint Michel to Nantes.
(1) the Breton Amis are a great bunch- very informative website, and great waymarking until Besle and crossing into Loire-Atlantique region (then its less clear, gps is needed as can be hard to spot stickers)
(2) this is a two way pilgrimage route with pilgrims heading to Mont Saint Michel (which also has a carnet and certificate). And this means there is a great chain of accomodation available - including 2 municipal pilgrim gites, a private pilgrim gite, 2 gite d'etapes, as well as campings (several with randoetape cabins), never mind a list of pilgrim hosts. Some French is necessary to phone ahead if staying with hosts.
(4) walking in August means battling with bakeries, bars and small shops closing for holidays- but there are enough options that I never starved even in August by carrying a few supplies- and never got even near to the emergency porridge sachet. Compared to walking the VF in eastern France were carrying supplies was utterly vital, on the Voie des Capitales most days I came across several towns and villages with a bar or bakery or superette or epicerie - just be aware of Sundays, public holidays etc
(3) My impression reflecting back is of rivers and railways- so much of this route is defined by following rivers and canals, and I saw so many trains but also several sections on defunct railway lines. Also amazed at how little tar/road walking I did, so much was on lanes and paths - only the day from Marsac sur Don to Blain was all on tar (and my feet did notice that!).
(4) since this is the Way of the Capitals - meaning Rennes and Nantes - Rennes is a lovely little city but Nantes is bigger and bustling and definitely recommend a rest day in Nantes to explore- Rennes is great but a few hours give a flavour, though a full day would also be great! Also coming into Nantes on the first quai (by Ile de Versailes) there is a running/hiking shop - I decided I hated the updated version of my trail runners ( having 3 previous pairs) but they actually had a pair of the old version left and the guy was very helpful with his smattering of English and my poor French.
(5) overall - enjoyable! The Voie des Capitales is fairly easy walking ( The section from Cherbourg was trickier and I probably would tinker with it after trying the cliff path with rucksack). Can't wait to get back to walk some more!
 
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