Stage 2 : exploring the île d'yeu along the gr80 trail
Alarms go off around 6 am, because no one wants to miss the morning sunshine. The early birds step out under an orangey-red sky and head into the wind along the eastern sectionof the brand-new GR80 coastal footpath.
Despite gusts that freeze the fingers, the cameras’ sensors are bombarded with electrons as the trekkers snap away. Walking into the wind is hard work but our photographers still take the time to use their imaginations and frame their pictures carefully. Some are working in black and white, while others lie on the ground to capture the spray blowing off the sea. Still others contort themselves into some very acrobatic positions in order to get the desired shot.
Strangely and unexpectedly, a few hundred metres from Pointe des Corbeaux, the wind virtually disappears. What is more, the landscape changes completely, as theshoreline rears up from the pancake-flat beaches to form impressive jumbled cliffs.
The sound of the wind is replaced by the rhythmic breathing of the trekkers as they overcome the ups and downs of the coastal path.
The GR80 is 27-km long, so the trekkers have to pace themselves if they want to have enough time to take the photos they want and still complete the hike. The fruits of their labours will be collected at the next checkpoint, on the beach at Sabias. Even though a hot buffet is waiting for them, they have toenjoyit quickly, as they need to sort through all their pictures and choose the best ones to submit to the jury, which will meet within the next 2 or 3 hours.
It is almost certainly the first time this beach has seen so many people, sitting on rocks or tufts of grass, heads bent over computers and struggling to keep their screens out of the sun. The sunlight beaming across the countryside of the Île d'Yeu was a wonderful bonus while they were shooting their photos, but it is less welcome now they are struggling to see the results of their work through the glare on their screens. You can’t have it both ways!
"I’ve taken more than 600 photos. Its agony trying to choose the best!” “It is a difficult exercise, but it’s really interesting.” “It teaches us how to manage our time, to make quick decisions while trying not to get too stressed about things.”
It’s just like working for a news agency. Minds get heated, as do the computer batteries, in some cases running out of juice and stranding our trekkers in the middle of making their selections. Fortunately, the owners of a lovely white house allow our power hunters to plug their computers into an outside socket. Thank you!
Patrick and Johan are next to the organiser’s car, where they collect the photos and file them by theme on a hard drive. Once the last memory sticks have been unplugged, the organisers rush them to the jury room so the photographs can be judged. Meanwhile, Valérie, Emilie and Coraline prepare the room that will be used to present the nextParis-North Cape Photo Rally and the first results. The pictures are projected onto a large screen and they are truly magnificent. Even our youngest participants (7 years old) amaze us, producing photos that have nothing to be ashamed of beside those of the adults.