International Pilgrimage – North East Britanny, France

Thursday July 28 to Friday August 5 (leaving after breakfast on 6)

The French ‘Compagnons’ welcome you to Brittany this summer 2022 to continue the ‘Pilgrim’s Adventure’ together.

Offering a gateway to the other countries of Europe and the world through its ports (Nantes, Lorient, Brest), Brittany seems to emerge from the waters of the Atlantic Ocean that crashes over it during the autumn storms. A peninsula, it is a territory apart whose independence has been symbolised by the “Asterix” comic strip. 

The beginning and end of the pilgrimage will take place at La Fresnais, a coastal village, occupied for over 2000 years,  and separated from the sea by a mudflat.   The pilgrimage curls around, beginning and ending at the same meeting place which is 800 m from the railway station.

Brittany is an area full of legends, gastronomy, folklore, dance, Celtic music, carved wooden sculptures, traditional events, a region of ‘pardons’- a mixture of pilgrimages and secular festivals held between Easter and All Saints’ Day,  

Some routes may include the seaside – with crowds of tourists – others more peaceful paths.  

The picturesque medieval port of Dinan on the Rance Estuary, Brittany, France

Dinan is the westernmost town where we may stay for the night.  From there you might walk south along the V3 greenway, a path that follows the route of an old railway line for 40km.  To the north-east, you might reach Saint-Malo and, after the beach, the ‘path of the Customs Officers’ begins, following the coastline of cliffs and coves. Further east, after Cancale, known for its oysters, the sea recedes behind the mud and salt flats that lead to Mont-Saint-Michel.  

We will not visit Mont-Saint-Michel because of the crowds – sometimes over 3 million visitors a year. But if your group is passing by the co-cathedral of Dol-de-Bretagne, built in gothic style by King John, of England, around 1200, do visit it. 

The countryside south of the coast has plenty to offer, walking through the forests of Coëtquen and Villecartier and swimming in the ‘Etangs’ lakes authorised for bathing near Combourg. 

Near Combourg

Pilgrimage possibilities: 

We are offering walking groups, with accompanying car, and an adventure group, without a car. These groups will walk to a new sleeping place every day. In addition, depending on demand, there will be a star group and a ‘family’ group.  These groups stay several nights in the same accommodation and walk out and back to the same venue each day, according to their own programme. These groups do not have to walk a specific distance everyday to reach a new place each night. 

We are also offering a Centre Group for pilgrims, who are older or have physical limitations and cannot sleep on the floor. For them there are beds in shared rooms of 4 -6 staying in one place for the whole week. If you wish to be in the Centre Group please also indicate your bedding preference on the application form: top bunk or a mattress on the floor.

All the groups except the Centre group will sleep in basic accommodation – no beds – only the floor – in halls, with few toilet and bathroom facilities.  We try to live in Franciscan style – moving on, living closely in community, with some discomforts, few possessions, sharing as much as possible and coping with the unforeseen. In each group there are pilgrims from different countries who speak different languages. It is our way of living out peace, in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Luggage 

Everyone must bring their own equipment: plate, cutlery, cup, bowl, water bottle.  It is recommended that luggage is packed into a backpack with a recommended maximum weight of 8 kg.  Everyone must bring a sleeping bag and a sleeping mat. (Except for those in the Centre Group who have beds and must bring sheets and a pillowcase). There will be a secure area for luggage not needed during the week.

The Address for the beginning and end of the pilgrimage 

The pilgrimage starts and ends in the commune “La Fresnais” postal code 35111. The meeting point is 800m from the railway station of the same name. The exact address and GPS details will be sent to you after receiving your application form. La Fresnais is 20 km east of Saint-Malo.

How to get there

By car 

www.viamichelin.fr shows that the N 176 (E 401) passes 6 km from La Fresnais.   It will be possible to park cars, not being used by groups, outside, near the meeting place.

By train 

From Paris there are five TGV trains per day, leaving from “Gare Montparnasse”. You can buy either Paris – La Fresnais direct, Paris – Rennes – La Fresnais , Paris – Saint Malo and stopping at La Fresnais or ending at Saint-Malo. From St Malo take a regional train to La Fresnais or bus number 11, 13 or 14 (timetables and a map of the network are on the website https://www.reseau-mat.fr/sites/default/files/455/Plans/saint_malo_avril_2021.pdf 
The timetable of the urban bus of Saint-Malo is here: 
https://www.reseau-mat.fr/fr/se-deplacer/lignes From Paris the journey takes c.  2.5 hours (high speed TGV, TGV-Inoui or TGV-Ouigo) and the cheapest ticket is around €30 at the start of the sales from March 9th.  The rail company is SNCF https://www.sncf-connect.com/. Make sure you are using the new website.

There are no lockers in the stations at Saint-Malo, La Fresnais or Rennes. There is an App – nannybag.com through which you can leave luggage in places near the station (eg. Hotel Le Sillon) if you are in St Malo for several hours.

There are ‘Left luggage’ lockers at the tourist office in Rennes.  The connection between Parisian stations is made by metro or bus. Itineraries and timetables on www.rapt.fr

If you have booked for the Centre Group then it is suggested that you buy a return ticket from Saint Malo.  

By plane 

From Amsterdam: www.rennes.aeroport.fr tells you how to get to Rennes city centre: bus n°57 or C6 

From Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport and Massy-TGV railway station, which is close to Paris-Orly airport, there are direct high speed trains to Rennes taking c2.5hrs.   From Rennes to Saint Malo there are 11 trains per day.

From Spain:   the website – www.aeroportparisbeauvais.com explains how to reach Paris (130 km from the airport).  

Travel by public transport in Paris to ‘Gare Montparnasse’ or to Massy-TGV station are explained on www.ratp.fr or on the Citymapper application (choose the city: Paris).  

By boat From the UK – Portsmouth to Saint Malo by Brittany Ferries  

Arrival the day before 

It will be possible to arrive on Wednesday 27 July 2022 from 5pm for an extra 5€ (breakfast included).  On that night, everyone must cater for themselves –   Details of supermarket “Utile”, the restaurant, the bakery can be found on on the town-hall website   http://www.mairie-la-fresnais.fr/index.php/artisans/.        The first meal provided by the Compagnons de Saint François is on the evening of 28 July.  There are no beds available for those who have chosen the (Senior) Centre Group that night.

Programme for Thursday 28 July 2022 

– The start of the pilgrimage 

12:00 – 15:00 Welcome, registration and payment of the balance of charges in cash (euros). 

Programme for Friday 5 August 2022 

The end of the pilgrimage after the veillée

18:30 hrs     A meal  followed by departure for those who wish. It is possible to stay overnight,  sleeping  on the floor and then breakfast (free).  Those who have chosen the Centre Group will be able to sleep at the Centre in Saint Malo at no extra charge.

Programme for Saturday 6 August 2022  

7:00 -10:00 am  Breakfast   Departure by 10:00 am 

Prices

Total costsDepositsRemaining costs
Adults 175 €£35 or 40€ 135 €
Young people from 13 years old, unemployed, students 125 €£35 or 40€ 85 €
Children from 4 to 12 years old70 €£17 or 20€ 50 €
Children from 0 to 3 years oldfree
Senior centre200 €£35 or 40€ 160 €

5 €  for the night before  – breakfast included.

The balance must be paid in euros (cash) at the beginning of the pilgrimage.

Please send your Booking form (downloadable -see below) , by post or email, together with the deposit

before March 31 2022  to:- 

Ian Mason  92 Bodmin Ave.  Stafford  ST17 0EQ ,  ianmason@talktalk.net     T. 01785 662194 Please contact Ian Mason  if you have any questions,  need printed forms or if it is your first time. 

If you ask to be in the Senior or Family Centre the organisers will  inform you if it is possible before mid-May. 

Covid-19

Participation in the pilgrimage implies acceptance of the health legislation in force in France at the time of the pilgrimage and how it is applied (health pass etc). These rules will be distributed to the participants by the organisers. The organisers cannot be held responsible for what these rules imply for the participants. Should the organisers be obliged to cancel some or all of the groups planned and therefore refuse registrations because of having to restrict numbers, the deposit paid will be reimbursed without further compensation.   

We advise you not to incur any non-refundable fees without confirmation of your registration by the organising team. This confirmation will be sent as soon as possible and at the latest by 15 June 2022.

In this difficult period of pandemic, we count on your understanding and indulgence. The organisers are well aware of the disappointment caused by the cancellation of the international pilgrimage in 2020 and in 2021.  Please be assured that they will do their utmost to ensure that the 2022 international pilgrimage can take place and be a success. 

And also

For this pilgrimage, we will need your help and talents. Each group of about 20 pilgrims is independent and it cannot function without a team of volunteer responsibles – a Coordinator (The Guardian), a Housekeeper (Mere), someone to be responsible for the spiritual animation (Spiritual Animator), someone to enable discussions (Chapter Animator), and someone to help bring ‘joie de vivre’ to the group (Troubadour).

To each and every one of you we send our fraternal greetings, -the organising team for the International Route 2022 in France.