Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Friday, 29 June 2012

Tips for walkers in France

Here are some tips for prospective walkers in France. You probably won't find them in your guide book. Some of them may seem a little basic, but they are all based on personal, even painful, experience.

1. If you are using a Eurail Pass, book well in advance to make sure that you get one of the limited number of Eurail seats allocated to that train.

2. When you've finished charging your North American phone or device, make sure that the adapter hasn't stuck in the socket when you've pulled the rest of it out.

3. Make sure that there is somewhere to eat or somewhere to buy food at the town where you are staying the night. If there isn't, you will have to buy it in the morning before you go, or the night before and take it with you.

4. Make allowances for weekends, holidays and jours de fermeture when you are planning your accommodation and your provisions. The place where you would normally pick up the key - the mairie or the Office de Tourisme, for example - may be closed when you arrive.

5. Walk on the left side of the road. It's better to see the cars in front, than not to hear them behind you.

6. Stop to get the stones or seeds out of your shoe. These can cause nasty blisters.

7. If you are following the signs, and get lost, go back to where you last saw one. This is hard to do, but it's safer and shorter in the long run.

8. If you are following the GR, remember that there is more than one of them, and that they cross from time to time. So make sure that you are on the right one.

9. Pee in the bush before you arrive in town rather than have a coffee you don't want, just to use the toilet, or be caught short when you can't find one.

10. Always carry backup toilet paper. You never know when you'll need it.

11. If you're on the loo, note the location of the light switch. It may be timed, in which case it will switch off when you're in medias res and leave you in the dark. You will have to find it to turn it back on. Or it may be motion sensitive, and you'll have to wave your arms around to activate it.

12. Eat prunishly. I don't want to go into details here, but if you're not careful, with all the bread you're eating - how can I put this delicately - it will be like the Biblical camel trying to pass through the eye of a needle, with very painful consequences.

13. Have a beer when you arrive at your destination. Not only is it one of the great pleasures of the day, but I have found that it settles an uneasy stomach that may result from walking in the heat. Perhaps it restores the electrolytes that you lose through sweating.

14. Take lots of moleskin with you. The Compedes, which you buy in France, are very good at healing blisters even if they gum up your socks, but moleskin will form an extra layer and protect you if you have a hot spot.

15. Go at your own pace. You can meet up with someone who is faster or slower than you at coffee, lunch, or the end of the day. But when the climb is interminable, or there's forever to go, that, in my opinion, is the time to draw on reserves and go like the clappers. Otherwise, you can fall into the pit of despair.

16. Watch out for electric fences. They are intended to keep humans out as well as animals in.

17. Create some kind of mnemonic or checklist for remembering your vital possessions.

1 comment:

  1. Wendy from Vitcoria30 June 2012 at 23:39

    All great tips, Charles.

    I’ve enjoyed following your exploits in France – gites, churches, companions, food and drink. Your quotes have also brought to mind some long-forgotten poetry, and I’ve delighted in re-visiting it.