I know it's early, but since there have already been questions about the PBP, I thought I'd start this now and we can add to it as the time goes on.
If you have been to a PBP at some point in the past, or if you have completed another 1200K randonnee, what tips would you have for those who are starting their preparations for their first PBP?
I'll start ...
1. Bring a small sleeping bag or bivy. Sleeping accommodations are available along the way, but there are often LONG waiting times for them, and if you do happen to get in, they aren't exactly "hotel-like" in comfort. Also it gets COLD at night and space blankets don't cut it. I would have killed for a small sleeping bag in 2003, and vowed I would take one next time.
2. Bring soap. For some reason, I could not find soap anywhere on the way back from Brest. The dispensers in the toilets were completely out and the kitchens denied having any.
3. Bring a plastic grocery bag, or two. Any ordinary grocery bag will do. If something happens to your handlebar bag (the mounting bracket on mine broke) and you have to put all the stuff in your handlebar bag elsewhere, a plastic grocery bag is very helpful. Also, if it rains, two plastic grocery bags worn over the socks and under your shoes can help keep your feet dry (or drier than they would have been).
4. Bring a long-sleeved wool or polypro (or other warm material) top to be worn at night when it gets cold. I packed for the killer 40+C temps they were having, then froze when the temps dropped a day or two before the PBP.
5. Learn some French. At least learn the polite terms like please and thank-you, and the names of foods. The French people were great, and were more than willing to go out of their way to help ... but they do appreciate it if we try to speak a bit of their language. I went over last time with my Canadian "cereal box" French and had no problem getting around before, after, and during the PBP (and can tell you lots of stories of very supportive and helpful French people). This time, I'm going over with a much better grasp of the language which I hope will enhance my experience. If any of you want to know a bit of French, I can help you out to some extent.