France Expresses Interest in IAT

IAT Vice President Eric Chouinard of Québec traveled to France in March to promote the International Appalachian Trail at tourism shows in Lyons and Paris.  He also met with representatives from the French hiking federation (Fédération Française de la Randonnée Rédestre - FFRP) and the National Pole of Resources for Outdoor Sports (Pôle Ressources Nationales des Sports de Nature - PRNSN) for the French Ministry of Health and Sport (MSS). 

As translated from the original French, below is a summary of Eric's report:

 

Contact with the French Hiking Federation

In the context of the IAT’s networking and extension project, I met Mr. Yves Lespérat, a federation administrator, as well as Mr. Christophe Martinez, national technical councillor. They appointed Mr. Armand Ducornet, general secretary of the federation who is in charge of international relations and is the V.P. of the European hiking federation, to be our contact person. I spoke with him by Skype two times since my visit in France.  To sum up these meetings, the idea of the French hiking federation (FFRP) being a part of the IAT international committee interests the FFRP. Mr. Ducornet hopes to participate in September’s IAT events and - we hope - officially announce France’s participation in the International Appalachian Trail.  

We also discussed other possible collaborations. For example, the FFRP has many communication tools for its members, as well as a store in Paris and online. I plan to request that we utilize these communication tools and stores to inform the Federation’s members about the IAT and offer our topoguides for sale.

 

IAT Vice President Eric Chouinard and Yves Lespérat of Fédération Française de la Randonnée Rédestre

 

We also discussed the possibility of the IAT becoming part of the Fédération Européenne de la Randonée Pédestre/FERP (European Hiking Federation). The director of the FFRP, Mr. Jean-Michel Humeau, informed me about an event called Eurorando which will take place the 2nd week of October, which is organised by the FERP. This may be a good opportunity to present the IAT and its ongoing development.

As well, the FFRP has recently entered into an agreement between France and Morocco for trail development in Morocco. This may be helpful as regards establishing an IAT Morocco.

Finally, I met Mr. Thierry Bedos, in charge of Pôle Ressources Nationales des Sports de Nature for the French Sports Ministry. He was part of a 3-person group who hiked the Parc de la Gaspésie and the Réserve Matane in July 2010 (he loved it), and he invited us to give a presentation on the IAT and its international development during a meeting of the European network of tourism and nature sports at Annecy, France, from October 5-8, 2011. 

 

Salon du Randonneur de Lyon (Lyon Hiker's Show), March 18-20

Our presence at this tourism show was very interesting for the IAT, since there was a high level of interest from the public about hiking trails and opportunities.  As the title of the show is the Lyon Hiker’s Show, the people it attracts are already hiking enthusiasts.

Meetings and contacts to follow up on:

I-Trekking is a free community website on hiking and trekking.  The person I met is a journalist who provides site content.  He is interested in receiving information about the IAT, and the events surrounding September's IAT AGM in Quebec.

Mr. Ladet was present in Gaspé in February 2011 for a cross-country sking expedition, and is interested in receiving information about the IAT and September's events.

TV8 Mont-Blanc is a local TV station in the Northern Alps serving 20 million viewers.  Mrs Favrat is interested in receiving information about the IAT and September's events.

 

Salon Destination Nature de Paris (Paris Destination Nature Show), March 25-27 

This tourism show was also a very good opportunity to interest people in hiking the IAT, since many of the people attending were hikers.  Among other brochures and maps, we distributed a flyer on upcoming events surrounding the IAT AGM in September.

  • Club Aventure / Xavier Jalby, chef de Marché Europe & Territories du Grand Nord / www.clubaventure.fr

Club Aventure is a company offering trips for groups and individuals to many destinations.  They already offer trips to Quebec, but I proposed they add one on hiking the IAT.  They may come for an exploratory visit during September's events.

  • Trek Magazine / Pauline Missir, Directrice de Clientéle / www.trekmag.com 

Le Magazine Trek is renowned in France as the principal hiking magazine.  The next issue features a 6-page article called "Following The Caribou In Quebec", and shows the IAT as it winds through the Chic-Chocs Mountains.  One of their journalists may attend September's events.  

As well as these contacts, I also met a journalist from the German hiking magazine Wander (40,000 copies).