2017 E5 walk, day 44: Carrouges to Alençon

Section 10, Day 44
low 39 °F
high 69 °F
52,574 steps
20.1 miles

This day, I had no choice but to reach Alençon, and as a result I made more forward pro­gress along the trail than any subsequent day.1 I woke up early, ate a large breakfast provided by my host, got sandwiches and pastries from La Gourman’Duis, and started walking before 8:30 AM. Within just a few minutes, I’d left Carrouges behind.

On the current IGN map, the trail is somewhat different (and distinctly shorter) than the trail I followed. That said, I recall walking past a quarry to reach the village of Rouperroux, and then headed into the the Forêt Domaniale d’Écouves, a large forest criss-crossed with apparent (former) logging roads, which the trail traced for most of the day.

A tall tree trunk, long-ago shorn of its lower limbs, stands to the south-southeast in front of some smaller evergreens.  Painted on the trunk are the markings for a GR trail, with the numbers 36 and 22 painted below in white with red outline.  Tacked above the paint is a placard with the number 410, and another above that with less-clear markings.
Markings on the tree show that GR 22 and GR 36 overlap here, and I suspect that this is section 410 of the forest.

Shortly before noon, I finally crossed the Greenwich meridian —  until today, the entire trip had technically been in the western hemisphere.

A few roads passed through the forest, occasionally intersecting at crossroads; at one such, the Carrefour de la Croix de Médavy (“Crossroads of the Médavy Cross”), there was a monument to French soldiers who died trying to dislodge retreating German soldiers from the forest.

A stubby World War II–era tank stands to the east on a small rise, pointing left, as a monument.  It is painted olive green, with a light blue Free France sign and the word “VALOIS” in white.  Around it are some neatly-tended bushes, and a French flag.  In the background are tall trees, a lawn, and a sign for parking.  The small amount of visible sky is partly-cloudy.
A memorial with a French army tank at the Carrefour de la Croix de Médavy.

One stretch of trail (I can’t identify the exact section, though I remember I was heading east) had been covered with fist-sized rocks, presumably in an attempt to make it easier to walk on. In fact, the stones were exactly the wrong size (reminiscent of the railroad track outside Médréac), shifting and sliding enough that I wrenched my ankles a few times.

Around 4 PM, the trail left the forest at the town of Radon, and wound west and then south towards Alençon.

In the ground is a long, low, rounded rock, or perhaps several of them, forming something like a trail running to the southeast.  Grass and weeds surround it; two large rocks stand above it to the right, and it disappears into a thicket of trees several dozen yards ahead.
On the way south, near the village of Maure, the trail passed along this granite road from the 12th century, the voie à ornières du chemin de Maure (“rutted path on the Maure road”, roughly). It was not particularly fun to walk on.

I reached the out­skirts of Alençon a little before 6 PM.

A pale stone building stands to the north on a paved open space, perhaps a plaza.  It has a dark roof vaguely resembling an onion dome, and a tall pair of closed doors.  It is actually an entrance to a larger building; if we look carefully behind, we can see where it connects to the larger part.  Two other buildings stand nearby; the sky is blue with wispy clouds.
The Alençon library.
To the southeast is the portico of a pale stone church.  The pillars and façade are carved with abstract decorations, but above the portico’s arches, the structure is elaborately detailed, almost lace-like, with gargoyles and miniature spires pointing in every direction.
I actually exclaimed out loud when I saw this church, the Église Notre-Dame d’Alençon (“Church of Our Lady of Alençon”).

I stopped at a chain bou­lan­ge­rie, la Mie Câline, to pick up dinner (a sandwich and pastries), and arrived at the perfectly adequate Hôtel de Paris around 7:15 PM — almost 11 hours door to door.

The hotel was literally across the street from the train station, so I got tickets for the next day’s journey, returned to my room to eat dinner, and slept.

Map of the day’s route.

  1. There was one more day with more steps — but recall that a day’s count of steps includes returning to the trail, making forward pro­gress along the trail, perhaps a small detour for food, and leaving the trail to reach a place to stay. The previous night, I had stayed just a couple blocks from the trail, and my hotel in Alençon was perhaps a quarter mile from the trail, so almost all of the steps were along the trail. ↩︎