The 25 Bosses circles les Trois Pignons, the vast playground of woodland, beaches and boulders within Fontainebleau forest, taking in the high points along the way. It translates (less romantically) as something like the 25 bumps. We had the walk pegged, in all our wisdom, as a good rest day or rainy day activity. As it turns out it isn't really either unless you have a pretty decent hiking fitness, or don't mind sliding down wet jumbles of rocks - although we managed it, not objecting to the latter, our fitness is probably substandard and we definitely felt it the next day.
An idiot abroad.
As a way to really experience the size and variety of landscape in les Trois Pignons, it couldn't be better. We went on a journey, along higgledy-piggledy rocky paths, through deep, quiet, shadowy forest, emerging to sunny hillsides speckled with purple dots of heather and then more forest that bordered on the tropical, steamy and lush with small sprawling chestnut trees. The viewpoints are epic and almost definitely worth the climbs, especially to see the ring of hilltops that we had already topped, and the surrounding fields spread away.
One of the most striking areas is that surrounding Rocher de Potala, in the south of the trail. The forest here suffered from fires last year and is now barren of mature trees, but vivid green with the regrowth of saplings and undergrowth and coloured here and there with flowers. The huge clearing is almost oppressively warm and silent, completely still, and giant, charred skeletons of trees serve as a reminder of what it might have looked like. Last year over 65ha were burnt, despite fire being prohibited in the forest.
We began from the Croix-Saint-Jerome car park, near La Musardiere camping, and the hike took us around ten hours in total. This does include for some faffing, our rather slow pace, and a certain amount of time spent in a shallow cave sheltering from a particularly heavy bout of rain. The trail was fantastically easy to follow, almost a dot-to-dot along the paths, following the red dashes that herded us in the right direction. There is some scrambling, and some small jumps, but nothing too hairy for the most part. There isn't really any opportunity to refuel or re-water on route, and it did feel isolated at times, although in reality we were never too far from a road - not that we ever saw or heard one.
Altitude (total): 800-900m, depending on source
High point: 124m
Time: 10 hours approx (shameful, the powers that be say six hours, record sits at 1hr35...)
Sandwiches eaten: two
Sandwiches we wished we'd eaten: at least six