The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.

Full moon madness

allumé2010Last Saturday JF went for a walk and I went to bed.  I wasn't sick nor was I having a daytime nap, it was bedtime and JF was setting off on a 53 km night walk through the mountains, with 1498 other people.

He was participating for the 3rd time in a local sporting (make that slightly crazy sporting) event.  Les Allumés de la Pleine Lune takes place every year on a weekend nearest to the full moon in May or June.  The name is a play on words as "allumé" means both crazy or fanatical person and lit up.  "Pleine lune" is full moon.  So basically it means the FULL MOON NUTTERS (in a nutshell!)  This suits JF as anyone who knows him would agree that "nutter" describes him well.  And anyone who chooses to walk 50+ km throughout the night is definitely a nutter in my opinion.

allumésLes Allumés de la Pleine Lune is a not-for-profit association set up by a group of high school friends in 1998, just for fun.  A very small percentage of the very small enrolment fee goes to a local charity but it is not billed as a charity event, just a challenge.  JF simply sees it as a personal challenge whereas I see it as a fundraising opportunity. Having been brought up in a culture of sponsored "just-about-anythings" from toddles, to channel swims via moustache growing and bed racing, I felt JF's hard work should benefit a worthy organisation.  By fundraising I felt I could be involved too, without having to do the hard work! So last time he did it I turned it into a sponsored walk and he raised £1250 for MSF.  However, my job as fundraiser was an eye opener as to French attitudes to charity donations and sponsorship in particular.  The sponsored "just-about-anythings" don't happen here and my French friends and family-in-law just didn't get it.  In England no one bats an eyelid if asked to sponsor a child's cake bake, village bed race or manager's haircut.  Events like Red Nose Day have become part of the calendar but charitable giving is very different in France.  For a start it's private, it's often an annual donation to a favourite charity (for which you can claim tax relief) and it's rarely personal, humorous or self-deprecating.  I discovered this the hard way, badgering people for money wasn't appreciated at all and I very nearly fell out with the in-laws over it; who'd have thought, I was just asking for sponsorship....This year I let JF get on with his challenge on his own though I won't say I'll never try again.  In the fifteen years I've been in France I've only been asked to sponsor someone twice; my son, who goes to an international school.

allumes cyril almerasBut I digress.  Let's get back to The Walk.  This year it was 53 km and very steep with a vertical gain/loss of 1334m.  Starting at 10pm it follows hiking trails and sheep paths (yes that's meant to say sheep not steep though they're that too) in the mountains north of Grasse.  There are several pit-stops/security checks with shuttle buses back to the start if you can't go on, but basically you're in the wild, in the dark.  The full moon shines light as long as there isn't thick cloud cover (2012) or rain (2010).  The circuit starts in the picturesque village of St Cezaire, passing St Vallier de Thiey and Mons before returning to St Cezaire; all of which can be visited during daylight hours too!  By all accounts it's a very scenic route following the Siagne river much of the way.  JF finished a very respectable 193rd in broad daylight, drove home, uttered the famous last words "never again" and went to bed for the rest of the day.

Lou Messugo is surrounded by fabulous walking/hiking country, from easy coastal paths to challenging mountain hikes.  There's something for everyone and every level of fitness.  And you can even walk during the day! 

Thanks to Cyril Almeras for the beautiful photo, taken of the walkers in pitch darkness (no moon) with a very long exposure.


©copyright Phoebe Thomas
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  • Guest
    Rosie @Eco-gites of Lenault Monday, 19 May 2014

    The sort of "never again" where he has just completed this night hike in 2014??!!

    That's also interesting what you write about sponsorship/charity and something that I had not taken on board - yes, we get to buy the equivalent of raffle tickets for school and sports clubs but I have never seen a sponsored anything else.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 19 May 2014

    Yes, never again turned into OK I'll do it one last time in 2014...pop back in a year Rosie to see if he continues in 2015!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Sunday, 02 June 2013

    You're right Delia, JF will NEVER forget!

  • Guest
    Delia @ Blog Formatting Monday, 27 May 2013

    Crazy or not, this is amazing and something you'll remember years to come! I love the idea of it. And, no, I wouldn't do it, but still sounds wonderful :)

  • Paula Buenos Aires
    Paula Buenos Aires Sunday, 26 May 2013

    That is something my own hubbie would love to take part in. Fabulous pictures!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Sunday, 02 June 2013

    Hey Paula, send your hubby over next year to stay at Lou Messugo and walk with mine! Thanks for popping by :)

  • Guest
    Rachel Sunday, 26 May 2013

    It sounds like it would be a beautiful walk, but not at night! You can't see the views at night! Well, except for the moon, of course, but it wouldn't take a walk to see that. Do you think he'll do it again next year?

  • Guest
    Phoebe Sunday, 26 May 2013

    Hi Rachel, thanks for commenting. You're right, it is a beautiful area and JF always says we should do the walk (or at least some of it) together as a family during the day some time. I'll report back when we do (but don't hold your breath for the full 53 kms!) He just did it again last night, in record time and is currently sleeping. I reckon he'll do it every year as long as he can!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 19 May 2014

    Rachel, he did it again in 2014!! :p

  • Guest
    Linda Ursin Friday, 24 May 2013

    Amazing pictures, and it looks like a lot of fun (although tiring)

  • Guest
    Rachel S. Thursday, 21 June 2012

    Great event, and so unique to the area! One more way (for the slightly-nutty-but-very-fit folks) to experience southern France "off the beaten track".

  • Guest
    Phoebe Friday, 24 May 2013

    Rachel, he's doing it again tomorrow! Don't you wish you could join him???? :p

  • Guest
    Drahcir Samoht Monday, 18 June 2012

    He's completely bonkers, but we like him that way.

  • Guest
    jeff Monday, 11 June 2012

    SUr les 13 heures que ça m'a pris, j'ai souffert 8h: tout ce qui pivotait faisait mal, j'ai donc beaucoup réfléchi , pour une fois, à l'ascension du mental sur le physique ou l'inverse? pour avoir terminé cette foutue randonnée, je penche pour la première; et oui, j'emmènerai la famille voir ces magnifiques coins, de jour!! jeff-the-nutter

  • Guest
    Phoebe Friday, 24 May 2013

    tu vas souffrir demain, tu es fou mon pauvre chouchou!! :(

  • bibival
    bibival Sunday, 10 June 2012

    Et bien quel périple et quel courage, félicitation à Jf, je pense que nous irons voir, de jour, et de plus près de quoi il en retourne dès que nous serons dans la région

  • Guest
    Phoebe Friday, 24 May 2013

    il le fait demain encore, dommage que vous n'êtes pas là pour l'accompagner!!!

  • Guest
    alex Sunday, 10 June 2012

    Amazing, but actually perfectly in keeping with the modest "nutter" that is Jeff!

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