My 1,000-Mile Hike

October 30, 2014

Tomorrow I am starting my 1,000 mile hike! There. It’s out there, so now I have to follow through.

The coastal path in Le Bono, Morbihan
The GR34 in the Morbihan

No, I’m not doing all 1,000 miles at once. Little by little. One day or one weekend at a time. It may take a year, though more likely three to four years. That doesn’t matter. What matters is I’ve got a new project to start on that I am very excited about!

My 1,000 mile hike (or 1,700 or so kilometers) is the entire coastline of Brittany. This grande randonnée (long-distance footpath) is the GR34 or the sentier des douaniers (path of customs officers) as it’s often known. Click here for a map that shows the GR34 in red (from Vitré, east of Rennes, up and around all the way to and past Vannes.)

Le Vieux Passage
The GR34 in the Morbihan

I have already done bits and pieces of the GR34 (maybe about 200 miles in total?) but for a long time now, I’ve wanted to do the whole coastline and sequentially. The problem is, I didn’t have three months or so to take off work and I couldn’t figure out how to do it logistically in pieces. But then this summer it occurred to me after I navigated the complicated logistics of the Nantes-Brest Canal piecemeal: by dropping my bike at my end point, I could drive back to the start, hike for the day or even up to 100 kilometers or so in a long weekend, and never have more than a three-hour bike ride back to my car.

Brittany June 12-17-9
The GR34 trail markings

I had a slight hiccup last night when I realized the GR34 doesn’t actually start at Mont Saint-Michel as most people believe. The GR34 starts about 140 kilometers inland, south of Mont Saint-Michel, in the city of Vitré. Most people do start at Mont Saint-Michel, and while I was looking forward to a coastal walk this weekend, I knew I’d be disappointed in myself if I didn’t do the entire trail. Besides, I’m in no rush to finish!

The GR34 in Finistère

So tomorrow I will drop the car in Châtillon-en-Vendelais and ride my bike to Vitré (about an hour), then hike back to Châtillon-en-Vendelais. Friday I’ll stay closer to home, but then Saturday, Sunday, Monday I’ll do Châtillon-en-Vendelais to Pontorson, just south of Mont Saint-Michel and from where I can take a bus back to Fougères. I’m happy to make use of public transportation where available! (The plan is to leave the car in Fougères Saturday morning, ride my bike 1 hour or so to Châtillon-en-Vendelais to the start of the hike, and then I’ll just have to remember to pick up my bike again Monday afternoon!)

The logistics are a bit complicated, but doable. Wish me luck!


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