Long distance French walkers to the Levant

Nothing is know of these 2 French walkers that went by foot across huge distances including Constantinople, which in the early 20th century was still viewed as the beginning of the exotic and mystic East. So Albert Brochart did an everage of 37 km in his 183 days travel that crossed Europe and back. The postcard was sent by a person who met this walker in Constantinople in 1902, possibly buying the actual card itself who may have returned to the city as the postcard was sent in July 2003 via the British Post office in that city to Maurice Alberti who was the agent for the Italian telegraph system in that city. The sender of the postcard M. Rousseau may have also been a Levantine. The Maurizio Alberti could be the son of Pietro Alberti & Celia Balladur born in Smyrna in 1864 and registered at the Italian Consulate of Constantinople on March 12, 1888 (Register D N°4862) with his parents - information courtesy of Marie Anne Marandet.

The other French walker M. Odin was even more ambitous, travelling by foot over 4 continents over 3 years, with 40.000 km covered - if he walked non-stop everyday that would equate to again around 37 km per day. This individual used St. Petersburg as the start and end point of his journey and there are few clues as to the reason of that remote city for the choice. Under that postcard there is a ‘price’ suggesting it was a wager or the cost of the enterprise borne by a benefactor, again not clear.
In both cases these travellers represent a period when long-distance travel was mostly the reserve of the rich and priviliged, so there is a possibility that this was a way for the ‘common man’ to prove he could also take part in this luxury as suggested in the second postcard stating the journey was done ‘without a penny’. However the conditions at times in areas of the world less used to travel must have been challenging and indeed dangerous. Perhaps these were part of the attraction to these no doubt fit and driven individuals. Clearly there was no cheating involved at least in Mr Odin’s case as the postcard states ‘Contol book in evidence’.

It is probably in the case of walker Brochart and possible in the case of Mr Odin that they both died during WWI, which took a terrible toll on the French youth, and if indeed the military death certificates below do belong to them, they died above the average military age of the soldiers, and had perhaps volunteered - if these matches are correct, Brochart did his walk aged 21, died aged 37 toward the end of the war and Odin did his walk aged 27-30, died aged 32 in the first year of the war.

A different pair of French walkers with their itinerary unmarked on their postcard however the words suggest they relied on the generosity of strangers to fulfil their mission by ‘recommending themselves to intelligent persons’. Mr J. Escalle as the ‘entraineur’ is perhaps the ‘coach’, so possibly the organiser of the venture?