On Saturday, February the 3rd, the Camino Society welcomed Tony Grouard from Bretagne, north-west France to talk about the Breton Camino. The Society was interested in learning more about the lesser known Ways in Bretagne (Brittany) and it was a great chance to strengthen ties between both Societies. Tony was more than happy to talk about his passion.
Association Bretonne des Amis de St Jacques de Compostelle is the 2nd largest pilgrims’ association in France with over 1500 member and 1500 kilometres of signalled pathway. Tony oversees one of five delegations in the Breton Association – the county of Loire Atlantique.
There are four departure points in Brittany:
- Pointe St Mattieu from the end of the earth (or Finisterre in French)
- Loguirec and Mogueriec
- Beauport Abbey at Paimpol, and
- Mont St-Michel – 2 routes start at Mont St-Michel: Voie des Capitales and Voie des Plantagenéts.
All roads lead to Clisson, on the Breton border. It is possible to walk from Clisson to Mont St. Michel. Pilgrims should follow special white and blue markers instead of shells.
There are 6 printed guides, currently in French, however, the first to be translated into English will be the guides on Pointe St. Mathieu and Mont St. Michel.
There is limited dedicated pilgrim accommodation, and the traveller must rely on commercial accommodation. Rural gîtes, designed for hikers and vacationers, offer the best value, and camping sites often have cabins or tents available. B&Bs vary in price and value but can be delightful and reasonable.
It is often possible to be received by families in their home. They provide dinner, bed and breakfast, advice for the next step and sometimes the use of their washing machine. Details on accommodation is available in each guide and on the Association website, which can be downloaded. It is necessary to have a credential while walking a chemin in Brittany. For those in Ireland, Tony has advised us that our own Irish pilgrim passport can be used if you wish to walk the chemin.
So how can you get there?
Irish pilgrims can arrive in Brittany by travelling by ferry from Cork to Roscoff. From Roscoff, you have a choice of 4 departure points. As you can see, Mogueriec and Locquirec are really close to Roscoff and are ideal departure points.
The terrain is flat, and it doesn’t offer too many problems. Much of the routes pass through farmland and small towns, however, there are one or two large cities that you venture through. Tony pointed out that there is a lot of tree cover, which is very typical for a Celtic nation. While there are no heights with spectacular vistas, there are many agreeable views and canal-side stretches. Along with the GR paths (French ways), much is on country roads, but there are also days of walking along canal tow-paths and graded bicycle trails maintained by local authorities.
We then heard from Camino Society volunteer Mike Timms who talked about his experiences on the Breton Camino. Mike had a very positive experience while walking this route. He stayed with families and in monasteries and he noted the generosity of the locals who went out of their way. Mike also made the point that some families and monasteries like to create their own sello or write a blessing on your credential.
If you would like further information on a Breton Camino, you can find full information on the Association Bretonne des Amis de St Jacques de Compostelle’s website – https://www.compostelle-bretagne.fr.
A full list of accommodation – https://www.compostelle-bretagne.fr/index.php/hebergements.
If you have any question regarding the Breton Camino, please do not hesitate to email Tony Grouard at firstname.lastname@example.org and finally, we would love to hear from you if you are in any way interested in walking this great walk.