By the end of November, Lionel Daudet will have probably finished his "Tour de France" by the boundaries of the country. Starting from the summit of Mont-Blanc the 10th of August 2011, "Dod" took over a year to strictly follow France's border. Month after month following the line only powered by his legs and arms, without ever being farther than a few meters, Lionel Daudet is now "the specialist" of the border. Guillaume Vallot and his brother Etienne, spent a few days tied on Lionel's rope while he was crossing the Queyras massif. At this occasion, Guillaume Vallot, reporter, was able to ask Lionel questions on his project.
Guillaume Vallot: So Dod, what does this border look like from a close point of view?
Lionel Daudet: The border, it can be anything and everything ! It's incredibily various. The border it is of course a mountain ridge, a sea shore, a forest. But it is also a field, a vineyard, a dinning room in a house, a lake, a highway, a farm, a factory or a nuclear plant!!! But the border is also people, the many different people that i was able to encounter during the trip.
G.V: When following the seashore, or in urban areas, you where probably facing many private property issues... was that a big problem ?
Lionel Daudet: Yes and no. Of course it is problem to cross a private property, and they are many on the border. I came across a few grouches, but nine times out of ten i just had to say that i came from the Mont Blanc. When the people realised what i was doing and from where i was coming and going, their eyes grew wide and the doors opened. The DodTour is the most "démocratic" adventure i've set on, there is no need for long explanations and people understand easily my goal. In general i was warmly welcomed to go across. When I was following the beach of the french Riviera in the month of august, with such a crowd on the sand i prefered kayaking the shore instead of hopping over bathing towels all day long! The most complicated part is urban areas, for example Monaco, houses are built on the border, and it was actually impossible to really know where it was. I had to do a few exceptions at that moment.
G.V: It is with great simplicity that we were able to take part in your adventure but we were not the only ones ?
Lionel Daudet: For shure, friends, partners, volunteers, and other improvised parties are a the great part of the trip. In each remote area of France someone knows a little part of the border and was happy and proud to show it to me. But everytime all of us learned things. The number local inhabitants i met on the border is huge, and these moments where the nuggets of my project.
G.V: How did you manage the incredible equipment and supplies logistics ?
Lionel Daudet: With a very important preparation and the sine qua non daily assistance from my wife Vero, she follows me all the times with the camper, manages groceries, contacts, meeting points and reports on www.dodtour.com! Plus a daily dose of anticipation and adaptation. As i said everyday: "In the morning i pick up my ice axe where i left it on the border". But the real king of the trip is the weather, it gives me the rythm. To overcome physical and emotional issues the mental plays a huge part in the game. I was very carefull that the DodTour doesn't become some kind of marathon or race against time, I wanted to have the necessary time to enjoy places and people. I'm clear with myself. Up to now no accident nor dark moments on the tour. If i had fixed myself with a precise deadline, in one year for example, it would have probably been less cheerfull and i wouldn't be satisfied.
G.V: As I am writing these lines Dod is very close to the finish, with good weather it's a matter of days... Fall is coming quickly on the Alps and storms and snow are now invited, is nature too trying to protect the border ? Thunder and lightning were recently the surprise hosts of Lionel who got struck by lightning on an arete... But as always, still smoking hot he resumed on his quest the day after, I can tell you the end of Dodtour is made of high voltage.
Encouragements, tracking, reports on the trip, arrival dates and all kinds of stories and emotions are shared on:
Vidéo - DodTour episode 1