Boucle à partir de Bonzée
I walked this in August 2020, did it two and half days, but was tiring I would suggest another day, or at least three days, roughly 77 kms in total, doing it in 13km+32kms+32kms fully autonomous.
Leaving the car in the small village of Bonzée, I started walking at 14h, as I had a 3h30 drive from home earlier. I followed the trace on my Garmin 66i, to the ‘starting’ point which is about 1km down a small country road. I also had with me the two IGN 25.000 paper maps, but this GR is so well sign posted you could o it with nothing.
The first 6kms are on the road, small road almost no traffic, then finally you start hitting the paths until a small and rather nice camping, where I had planned to stay, in all about 13kms from the start.
The camping was actually very good, loads of room, the guy who runs it was their, was very nice and was respected the consigns concerning Covid-19, masks and hand washing etc, Hand Gel in the toilets, pretty good for such a smallish place. In the evening, he opens a small hut, to take the reservations and payments, he also sells, water, beer, cider etc, so three bottles of local beer plus the price of the camping, only 16 euros, really not expensive, there was even a vegetable patch with tomatoes that you could pick for yourself free of charge, nice….
I left the camping at 9am, now I followed the GR – GPX trace that I had planned on my Garmin 66i and not the balisage, strangely this takes you by road for a while, though whatever you follow, they merge later on, my GPX trace isd the same as on the IGN maps, where as the signposts takes you by a road for a while, strange
All the paths here are easy very well kept, (this for the whole of the GR) even in the forest or in the fields, the balisage (signposting) is perfect. The paths are very flat, and mostly white, (someone said it was white sand, / fine gravel, man made stuff I believe, you can see it in some of the photos) so easy to walk on, and even when sometimes the path is 100% naturel they were flat and well kept,
You finally arrive at a village called Lachausée…(you are basically walking a big loop here) which is found on the end “étang de chaussée” a protected lake for animals and wildlife, getting there was by the paths in the forest but after the village, While the GR takes you around the village, I suggest you cheat and cut through it, seeing a bit of the village while doing so and cutting of a little bit of road. Leaving the village, there’s a very long strip of road , 2.5 kms… boring but no other option, which is a pain though no or very little traffic.
At the end of this road, you’ll enter a small village called Haumont lès Lachausée, (do fill up with water here, you’ll have to knock on a door as no to get some) from here on its paths again, all very flat, yesterday and today all is flat, almost no dénivelé, its all flat here. For info there is a Gite here, I saw it in passing.
I walked from the 1rts camping for about 31 kms, I should have stopped a bit earlier and pitched , wild camping (bivouac in French) as loads of places to do so, but wanted some water as I didn’t get enough in the previous village, also it was very hot so I continued until I finally came across a farm where I topped up, and also asked if I could pitch my tent in their orchard over the road, perfect, but it was a long walk. Again from the previous village Haumont lès Lachausée there are no houses no nothing, so fill up there.
Now finally some hills, though nothing steep or technical, after a about a kilometer you’ll cross a village called Vigneulles lès Hattonchâtel, fill up here as it’s bigger and the next village you don’t go through it, now up you go for a change, a nice steepish hill but by the road until Hattonchâtel, here as you get the the village you turn left so you don’t go into it, you are as high as you’ll get and back to path walking with some lovely views of all over the countryside.
I had planned in staying at the second camping site on this GR which is about the 65 kms distance, camping du longeau though I didn’t, maybe I should have
Again a very quiet spot and this time with a very small lake alos a bar / restaurant, As it was only 1pm when I arrived, I stopped and ate for 30 minutes, but decided to do the last leg and finish this GR
To be honest I should have pitched the tent and rested, it was hot, 35 degrees and I still had another 13 /15 kms to walk, that I had actually planned for the following day. Quite a walk after the camping is the only village before the end, Les Eparges, I walked through it seeing nobody, last water stop before Bonzée, so fill up
Mostly forest but often the sun directly overhead so hot and little shade, boy this last bit was hard work
But I arrived at Bonzée around 16h30, totally knackered and with a 3h30 drive to do….
This is very agreeable trek, signposting (Balisage in French) is perfect, very clearly marked, could do the whole walk without a GPS. No technical difficulties, it’s fairly flat