Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris - Notre-Dame Cathedral, Chartres : The pilgrims walk the full distance between the two cathedrals, approximately 70 miles, in three days. This involves considerable effort, long hours of walking, early mornings; very good physical fitness is therefore an advantage!
The British pilgrimage starts with Mass in Westminster Cathedral Crypt at 7:00AM and the coach leaves for Calais at 7:30 AM on Friday, 17 May 2013. Accomodation on the Friday night is in a hotel just outside Paris (Hotel Ibis Aulnay Sous Bois, Route nationale 370 Carrefour de l'europe - 93600 - AULNAY SOUS BOIS - Tel : (+33)1/48791910). Pilgrims will be paired up in twin rooms unless they pay a single supplement. The pilgrims stay in Chartres on the Monday evening and the evening meal is included in the pilgrimage cost. On Tuesday, there is Mass in the Crypt of Chartres Cathedral before the coach takes us back to England.
Notre-Dame de Chrétienté supplies water at each halt throughout the walk and at the evening campsite. At the campsite, hot soup and bread is available in the evenings and breakfast (coffee, hot chocolate and bread and jam) is available in the mornings. Pilgrims should, however, bring with them their own food, enough for three cold picnic lunches and to supplement the evening soup. These should be organised in England as there are very limited opportunities to buy anything during the pilgrimage. Dinner on the Friday evening is not organised (there are restaurants near the hotel) and meals en-route to/from the pilgrimage are not included. Dinner on Monday is included as is breakfast on Tuesday morning.
Permanent medical assistance is assured by the doctors and hospitallers of the Order of Malta, who have an outdoor hospital at each campsite.
All along the walk, shuttle buses provide transport for pilgrims who can no longer walk or, in case of emergency, to take them to hospital.
During the pilgrimage it is important to look after one's feet. Along with the usual precautions of wearing good walking boots (well worn-in) and wool or cotton socks (not synthetic), experienced walkers have found that the application of "Elastoplaste", a very sticky medical tape available in French chemists, to the sole and heel of the foot results in no blisters! It costs about £5 for a box, but is well worth the investment. A foot/hand cream is also recommended. If you have trouble, do not hesitate to use the services of the Order of Malta which are always available en-route and at the campsites.
Clothing for walking, particularly boots or good walking shoes (synthetic fibre socks are not advised). Here is the list of essentials :
a small backpack to carry throughout, containing :
· Food: lunch for the day and energy-giving snacks (dried fruit, salty nuts, etc.)
· Waterproof raingear (heavy rain possible!)
· water bottle (water supplied) and knife/fork/spoon
· cup for tea/coffee/soup (contents supplied, bring tea bags if tea required)
· hat, to protect against the sun
· Pilgrim’s Booklet (supplied, containing all the Mass texts, hymns, and other prayers)
· Small plastic bag/cover for Pilgrim’s Booklet
· plasters and general simple medication (for blisters, headaches, dehydration etc.)
a larger bag, which will be taken in the special pilgrimage lorries and which is retrieved each evening, containing :
· food reserves (for remaining meals)
· warm jumper/garment (cold early mornings)
· change of clothing (a pullover, shirts, trousers, pants, vests, socks)
· light shoes for the evening (good boots recommended for the walk)
· toiletries and toilet paper (not essential)
· warm sleeping bag
· personal tent (if you have one) or Groundsheet and mat (for collective tents)
(It is essential that all items are wrapped securely in plastic bags to keep them dry)
Pilgrims may leave their heavy luggage with the special pilgrimage lorries’ teams as soon as they arrive at Notre-Dame in Paris on the Saturday morning. There will be a lorry marked either "ETRANGERS' or NORMANDIE" for the use of the British Chapters. The luggage will be transported by these special lorries to the evening campsite where they can be retrieved under a large sign marked "ETRANGERS" or "NORMANDIE" (to be confirmed). Pilgrims should not forget to label their bags with their names and contact details and to attach ribbons (one orange and one black) to them to identify them as « NORMANDIE/ETRANGERS » (ribbons are no longer available in the lorries). They are also advised to label all belongings with their name and address.
Notre-Dame de Chrétienté supplies a campsite equipped with wash-basins (cold running water only), toilets, electricity supply, and some collective tents (we try to reserve spaces for the British Pilgrims, so it is important that the British organisers are aware that you require tent space). The tents are single sex and pilgrims are kindly asked to respect this.
On arrival at the campsite, pilgrims retrieve their large bags, and make their way to the “NORMANDIE” area where the collective tents (marked with the Union Flag) will be waiting and where there is space to set up their personal tents.