The Birth of an Unique European Thru-hike

Hello Everyone ! Ladies and gents, Young and old, Adventurers for life or for a weekend, we hope you will enjoy our European Thru-hike adventure, articles and pictures and maybe get inspired to build yourself a fantastic unique Thru-hike in America, in Europe or anywhere else in the world. There is so many lonely trails looking forward to feel the lightness of your delicate steps.

This is our very first blog post for The Trek as writers! Maybe you read our interview last week …thanks to Maggie and Zach for this! Getting closer and closer to your community, we decided to jump in the boat and to share with you (with such an excitement) the first European thru-hike adventure documented from A to Z on TheTrek.co.

We are Marie and Nil, and we are super excited to join the writers team under our project: Deux Pas Vers L’Autre. I mean, what an honor for two frenchies hiking across the Atlantic to be part of this!

Deux Pas Vers L’Autre (2PVA is easier for you I guess, even though we would love to hear you saying it with your adorable american accent) means Two Steps Towards Others, it is a unique thru-hike and a fantastic human adventure: 10,000 kilometers on foot, 500 days, 17 countries, more than 120 natural parks, four seasons and hundreds of encounters. Check the itinerary on the map, it’s easy and accessible through Google Maps.

Our goal: To meet others, our European neighbors, to give a voice to people we met on the road and whom you would have probably never heard of otherwise! Step after step, from one country to the next, come meet our fellow Europeans and discover with us the diversity and richness of the old continent. European Thru-hike, Refugio Livio Bianco Italy

What brings together or differentiates these countries with such strong identities? How do we live today in Mediterranean Europe? Will the encounters be as easy everywhere? And how will we survive this adventure ? 🙂

From professional paths as different as complementary, we’ll document this experience for 17 months or more.

Through a series of articles, photos and videos, we want to share with you the best and worst of our wanderings and day to day life on the path.

Here is the Manifest of 2PVA (extract from our website)

EXCLUSIVELY ON FOOT

“Walking, we found nothing better to go slower” Frédéric Gros

If walking can be a strong symbol of freedom, it is also a means for us to cross over those countries the simplest way while opening our doors to encounters.

By excluding any means of transportation but our bodies, Nature will set the pace. This way we intend to reduce our carbon footprint to its bare essentials.

A 10,600 km thru-hike! At the rate of 20 km a day, we will cover them in about 530 days.

ON A BUDGET

By living this European experience, we wish to show that the most extraordinary adventure can begin on our doorstep.

Where to sleep? What to eat? Are questions that will animate us every day. With €10 a day per person, we will focus on basic needs.

Free from the superfluous, we leave more room for the unforeseen and the encounters.

€360 per month: the average salary in Kosovo.

With €300, coping over the unexpected will soon become our routine, leaving far behind our proverbial comfort habits.

ACROSS SOUTHERN EUROPE

There are many definitions of Southern Europe, ours is above all cultural and geographical.

This is why we include some countries excluded from the classification of the UN.

In recent years, Europe has known a growing enthusiasm for hiking. The opening of long-distance trails such as Via Alpina, Rota Vicentina, Via Dinarica or European Epaths trails allows us to thru-hike from Sagres to Istanbul almost exclusively using pedestrian ways.

Besides the cultural richness of a rural Europe, through more than 120 parks and natural reserves, we will appreciate a preserved nature.

TOWARDS OTHERS

Far from the metropolises and our comfort zones, our aim is to meet our European neighbours whom we barely know although we share so much with them.

How do they live? What are our differences? In what point are we similar? So many questions we want to find answers to on the way.

Aside the characters randomly met on the way, in each country, a local resident will hike along with us for a while, acting as a precious liaison providing us with keys so as to better understand his/her country and to bring cliches and realities face to face.

“Walking is always a step in the direction of the other” Frank Michel

Random encounters are the most beautiful ones!

SHARING

With Deux Pas Vers l’Autre, we want to do more than just tell our story, we intend to share it.

17 video episodes are in order (one for each country) condensed of adventures and encounters, breathtaking landscapes and desperate moments. As we know there will be many. Plus regular posts including pictures, articles and videos on The Trek, on our blog, our website and social medias.

It has often been difficult to make itinerary choices, so the idea of asking your opinion was born naturally. Every month you will be invited to choose between two variants of our itinerary on the website. Thanks to a GPS system, you will know our position in almost real time.

We may pass by yours! We know the Audience of The Trek goes far beyond American borders, as a proof we are big fans for a while already 🙂 ! If you live on our route and would like to share your story or a cup of tea, let us know!

The pillar of this adventure being the exchange, it seemed obvious to us to make this experience accessible to the widest possible audience. Also, we will share our content in our mother tongue, French but also in English.

A PLACE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Although each gram counts in an adventure like this, it seemed important to us to take advantage of our passage to, on our scale, act for the planet.

In this way, we give back a little to these countries that welcome us and help to maintain and support the hiking trails of Europe.

1KG FOR THE PLANET: In our bags, we will carry up to 1kg of garbage picked up on the way until we can throw them away. Thus, throughout our journey, we can collect several hundred kilos of garbage abandoned in nature.

European Thru-hike a gest for environment !Take up the Challenge!

 Despite not being on the road yet, the trip has already commenced for us.

What will we share with you through TheTrek?

  • One narrative article per country with an exclusive photo reportage ( 17 articles in total shared over more than a year and half)
  • Articles about the preparation, gear list, Natural Parks on the trail, photography tips, hiking tips, How to build your project, How to find sponsors…
  • Gear reviews
  • GPX tracks

and maybe more!

We are often asked what led us to undertake such a journey. We’ll try to explain it here.

Who are we?

MARIE

When I was a child, I wanted to be a writer. Or an adventurer. At 27 years old, I found myself being a human resources manager responsible for 350 employees within a dozen countries. What had happened? I’m not sure I can explain it. I’ll try anyway.

 

After high school graduation, I did a degree in sociology – joy, ecstatic moment, freedom: I really could study whatever I desired, I could choose my subjects (not that easy as they were all of some interest to me).

I did odd jobs at the same time, which allowed me to leave for my first trips, in Europe first and then further and further way and for longer period of times.

After graduating, I was told that unless I wish to do research in the humanities, I should consider learning a trade to integrate the job market. Basically, this is the way it happened! 

Over time, I had a career!

Regardless of a career that took me to the four corners of the world, which allowed me financially to spend my holidays far away from home and the extraordinary encounters I made there, I did not feel in a place I belonged to.

It took me a while before the idea of quitting my job occurred to me. The understanding and confidence of my friends, colleagues and family finally gave me the energy to make that change.

As a child, I was lucky enough to spend part of my vacation in Aveyron, France, between the fishing trips on the lake and the walks in the forest, I developed a taste for the countryside and the nature. This attachment obviously played a role in my decision to change career direction and lifestyle.

Today, right in the preparations for our adventure, here I am: both a blogger and a hiker on hundreds and soon thousands of kilometers. I’ve never been so close to my childhood dreams!

NIL

I grew up happy in the Parisian suburbs in a house which had a garden being the ground of our first adventures, to both my brother and I. During our childhood, we had the great opportunity to travel a lot, which quickly opened our eyes

At school, I was not getting along that well with the French education system and I first turned to the arts before reorienting to music. In college, I studied musical creation that I eventually set aside with the opportunity at 20 years old of becoming a model.. funny shit but no regrets!

  Wallpaper magazine

It was an experience full of good and bad things, notably resulting on many trips that strengthened my taste for exploring places and meeting others. Of course when talking about destinations, often the usual big cities, New York, London, Milan, etc., pop up but also less common stays on almost every continent: Thailand, China, India, Mexico, Turkey, etc. I lived a strange life, enjoying the good sides without being really comfortable with this cap in which i never really recognized myself..

The idea to go the other side, the photographer’s one, getting stronger and stronger, in 2011 I bought my first camera and that’s when the serious things started.

Since then, I have worked as a photographer @nil-hope, I mainly photograph for magazines, and images for major brands.

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It’s an interesting job, where I’m always confronted with different challenges, but fashion is a convoluted universe and it’s always vital for me to be interested in other topics as i am everything but a fashionisto. Art photography, reportage or even outdoors and it is precisely three aspects of photography that we touch with Deux Pas Vers l’Autre.

Travel, hiking and outdoors  lover since the very beginning of my childhood, so far I have undertaken many adventures. I never thru-hiked the AT or the PCT but my Thru-hiking experiences always succeeded in Europe. I hiked so far thousands of kilometers between France, Italy, Spain and  some countries in asia. My predilection terrain has always been the mountain and this is where i feel the best 🙂

In 2016, an accident that nearly cost me a life on a professional trip made me think a lot and made me understand the importance and beauty of each moment. In a country where i was shooting for a magazine a junky on severe dope arrived from nowhere with a broken bottle to stab me in the neck… How fucking random? What is more uncertain than tomorrow? I survived this out-of-nowhere-lesson and little by little, I gave up the the social pressure of the next day to live fully from now on.

The desire to meet new faces and the wish to accomplish something immense echoed more and more strongly in a corner of my mind.

Day after day the idea of a bigger project towards the other emerged. Thus was born 2PVA.

Why this European Thru-Hike?

Living a childhood dream, being an epic hero, taking the time to live, discovering our world today and picturing it through a humanist environment friendly and down to earth adventure, enjoying today before tomorrow, better understanding our continent… By deciding to cross Southern Europe on foot we had all these things in mind and many others.

We are Europeans and yet we have the feeling that we do not know anything about certain countries on our continent and sometimes we even know much more about more distant regions of the world. We want to meet, discover, learn and share all that Europe has to offer.

The primary purpose of a travel blog is to share. With Deux Pas Vers l’Autre, our greatest desire is to give a voice to all those people we do not hear in the more conventional media and that we would probably never have met if our itinerary had not led us on the doorstep.

Through this blog, our website, youtube channel, and social networks Fb and insta on which we share our adventure, you will be able to live this experience with us in its whole.

Of course, even in the US you often have the chance to read or hear information about the drought in Spain or the economic crisis in Greece, but the opportunity to look at all this in a non-politicized set is more seldom. In each country, we will walk a week with a resident, the idea being above all to take a closer look at the cultures and situations we encounter, to share this proximity conducive to the discussion and together to benefit from this adventure.

By writing about these countries and our way of life on the road, we also hope to share our experience of travelers and give you the means to organize your adventure, your trips or hikes without hesitating to think outside the box.

By sharing in an immersive way our adventure , offering live features, votes, we want to get you involved, but most of all we want anyone to be able to touch our adventure with their own fingers staring with disable people from all over the world !

We will win our bet if, by reading us, you feel that the exceptional adventure is at hand and may take up a few steps away from you.

European Thru-hike French alps

Where are we and what do we do now?

As we write this post, we have already undertook two preparation trips, gradually answering the various problems related to such a project: testing and choosing equipment, finding our rhythm, managing shooting and photo-reportage, organizing work on the road, learning how to write to you, managing our sharing with stormy connections and of course shooting our teaser!

We are working on so many things and truly committed ourselves so we can present you the best end result.

We will do two more trips before the big departure, one in autumn conditions and the last one in winter, during which we will keep on testing ourselves and our equipment and tame the hardness of this new way of life.

These days, we establish contacts that are essential to our journey, find these companions in each country but also work together with our  Cultural partners and Gear partners and we need the very best!!

Although sometimes stressful, all these preparations are exciting, so we are happy to share with you now everything that makes this wonderful adventure possible.

Hoping that this European thru-hike captivates you and takes you with us towards what we are eager to discover: the others.

We Declare this Blog Warmly Open!

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Comments 4

  • SEe Sophie Eeckhout : Oct 31st

    Hey NIL !
    What an amazing trip !
    Donne des nouvelles.
    Ton ex Tante 🙂
    Grosses force, emerveillement et courage !
    Sophie

    Reply
    • Deux Pas Vers L Autre : Nov 2nd

      Sophie !! Long time 🙂 !

      Thanks for catching up and thanks for your kind words !
      Talk very soon on fb !

      Nil

      Reply
  • Aaron Owens Mayhew : Nov 2nd

    What an exciting adventure you have planned! Will look forward to following your progress.

    Reply
    • Deux Pas Vers L Autre : Nov 2nd

      Thanks a lot Aaron ! Lets keep in touch then !

      Marie

      Reply

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