From Angers, walk towards Pontmain and Mont-Saint-Michel

From Angers, walk towards Pontmain and Mont-Saint-Michel

The scheme is now classic: on their return home, pilgrims to Saint-Jacques have the idea of ​​tracing, on the model of these thousand-year-old paths, a route that leads to a sanctuary close to their home. “That’s what happened to me, explains Daniel Pinçon, member of the Association of Friends of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle in Anjou. Puy-en-Velay and Arles, as well as the Camino inglés. Being born 20 kilometers from Pontmain, I also often went to this place of pilgrimage during my youth. Like all the people of Mayenne, I am therefore very attached to it. And I had the idea to walk towards this famous Marian shrine.”

Pontmain, Marian sanctuary

The village of Pontmain entered the history of France on January 17, 1871, in the midst of the Franco-Prussian war, the day when the Virgin appeared to four children. His message can be summed up in these words: “But pray my children, God will answer you in no time. My Son allows himself to be touched.” A few days later, the enemy troops fell back, and the armistice was signed. A year later, the apparition was officially recognized by the Bishop of Laval, who quickly ordered the construction of a sanctuary. Today, there are approximately 300,000 pilgrims per year and 4,000 per day during major festivals such as the Assumption.

By walking towards this sanctuary, Daniel Pinçon therefore opened, on April 10, 2016, a path that connects Angers to Pontmain. To share the joy he had had in following this route, he immediately published, with the Association des Amis de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle en Anjou, a document describing this path in nine days of walking (175 km) . First published in the form of loose sheets then a brochure, it evolved into a guide in 2019; the latter will know, in this month of May 2023, a new augmented edition.

Many assets

“This path runs along the Mayenne by the towpath described by Daniel Pinçon, weaves between the fields, by sunken paths and small roads crossing the bocages, to penetrate into granite plateaus. The rivers with their castles perched on their banks, the locks, the mills remain witnesses of historical facts and ancient activities.This route also invites you to visit: in Angers, the Saint-Maurice cathedral, the Saint-Martin collegiate church, the castle and the tapestry of the Apocalypse; in Château-Gontier, the convent of the Ursulines and the chapel of Genêteil: in Laval, the cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-la-Trinité, the basilica of Avesnières, Notre-Dame-des-Cordeliers and the abbey of La Coudre .”

Another advantage of this route: the low gradients, which allows everyone to follow it. As for the markup, it is continuous but not specific to the path which uses pre-existing paths (towpaths, GR®, PR®, Plantagenêts route). Finally, part of the accommodation is provided by “host families”.

Those who wish can continue to Mont-Saint-Michel, which can be reached in three days’ walk (60 km) from Pontmain. If you want to complete a loop, you can then return to Angers via the Plantagenêts route in ten days (240 km). Isn’t this an original idea, especially for the people of Mayenne and Angevin, to celebrate, in this year 2023, the millennium of the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel?

Pilgrims and hikers

Since its publication, six hundred people have purchased the guide: we can therefore assume that around a thousand walkers have taken this path. “Pilgrims from 39 different departments, comments Daniel Pinçon, and of all ages. Some make it over several years. For example, in three years, as recently a group of 18 people with disabilities.”

The same is true for Francis, who walked this path with his seven grandchildren for three summers, his wife providing stewardship. “It was a great experience, he says. My grandchildren, between 12 and 18, were delighted to be with cousins. As we walked, we tackled essential questions, which is more difficult in our lives. disrupted daily life.” Another highlight of this march: when they arrived at Mont-Saint-Michel, Daniel Pinçon was waiting for them to give them the “Miquelot diploma”. Then the grandparents and their grandchildren were joined by their parents, and the three generations together crossed the bay. “A sublime experience that will remain in our memories”, concludes Francis.

This path also delighted Marie-Madeleine, an 85-year-old woman from Haute-Savoie, who had already walked to Jerusalem. “I had found a statue of the Virgin in my parents’ belongings, which I ended up identifying as that of Pontmain. When Daniel Pinçon told me about this new path, I quickly set off! ” After Pontmain, Marie-Madeleine continued to Mont-Saint-Michel then she went to Lisieux. “This pilgrimage was a succession of graces that fell from Heaven,” she sums up. What more can you expect from hitting the road?

To read

The Chemin de Pontmain from Angers to Mont-Saint-MichelAssociation of Friends of Santiago de Compostela in Anjou, 98 pages, 12 euros

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