4 Best Hiking Trails in France

France is one country that has bragging rights on so many things. When it comes to romance, the French have few rivals. It is also a top destination for food, wine, and fashion lovers. We also can’t forget the abundance of architectural marvels. The Eiffel Tower, the popular Louvre museum, and Notre Dame attract lots of tourists every year.

It doesn’t end there, though. France is a popular destination for backpackers and hiking enthusiasts. If you fall in the latter category, please read on. We will share some must-try hiking trails below.

Tour du Mont Blanc

  • Trail length – 170 km
  • Number of hours/days – 7-11 days
  • Passes through – Italy, France, and Switzerland
  • Difficulty level – moderate to tough
  • Permit requirement – No

Mont Blanc holds the distinction of being the highest European peak. Sitting at an altitude of 4810 m, the hike to the top can be extremely strenuous. But, you can also sign up for some of the shorter walks.

The Tour du Mont Blanc offers a series of hiking trails covering over 170 km. We recommend the use of professional guided services to help navigate the course. They are also in the best position to know where to eat, sleep, and resupply.

4 Best Hiking Trails in France

The experienced guides also have intimate knowledge of the weather patterns. At higher altitudes, it is not uncommon for the weather to change quite suddenly.

You can choose different starting points, including Les Houches, Chamonix, and Courmayeur. Expect to take anywhere from 7 to 11 days to complete the trail.

Be ready for stunning vistas and different terrains like green valleys, barren rocky areas, and forests. In the end, you will have passed through three countries: Italy, France, and Switzerland.

Tour du Mont Blanc is a top-rated destination for long-distance trekkers. August is a hectic time due to the ultra-trail du Mont Blanc.

The ultra-marathon is a single-stage mountain race that has been an annual activity since 2003. Over 10,000 hopefuls meet for the event.

Walker’s Haute Route

  • Trail length – 180 km
  • Number of hours/days – 8-11
  • Passes through – France and Switzerland
  • Difficulty level – tough
  • Permit requirement – No

The Haute route takes you along the French and Swiss Alps. The word stunning applies to every step along the 180 km hike. Ensure proper preparation for the walk, though. You will face a 12,000m ascent going through France and Switzerland.

4 Best Hiking Trails in France

The starting point is Chamonix and ends in Zermatt, in the canton of Valais, Switzerland. For the best experience, sign up for personalized trekking services. It doesn’t hurt to use the guided services unless you have proper knowledge of the area. The experienced guides know the area and can uncover some thrills you would miss on a self-guided trek.

If you don’t have time for the entire 11-day trek, the guides can focus on showing you the highlights. This will shave off three days without compromising on the whole experience.

GR20

  • Trail length – 180 km
  • Number of hours/days – 5 to 16 days, depending on experience
  • Passes through – Corsica, north to south
  • Difficulty level – very tough
  • Permit requirement – No

GR20 is a challenging trail and is best suited to experienced hikers. To get to the peak, you face a 10,600m ascent.

The rocky northern section is incredibly technical and can prove very challenging for beginners. What makes GR20 so exciting is the landscape. Charge your camera because you will take plenty of photos. Expect to see mountain lakes, natural pools, red mountains, and more.

4 Best Hiking Trails in France

A self-guided hike is possible due to the numerous markings along the trail. You will notice them as white or red triangles on trees, boulders, and rocks. But, it is also a good idea to carry along a map in case you lose your way.

There is plenty of accommodation in the form of mountain refuges. The accommodation is pretty basic, consisting of dormitories. If you don’t feel like sharing the room with up to 50 people, you have the option of tents. The camping ground must, however, be near one of the refuge centers. The third option is private lodges, but expect to spend a bit more.

There are also resupply stations removing the need for a very heavy backpack. You can always buy what you need along the route. The starting point is Calenza to the north, ending in Conca in the south. You can also decide to hike from South to North if you want to avoid crowds.

Colorado Provencal

  • Trail length – 5 km
  • Number of hours/days – 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty level – Easy
  • Permit requirement – Yes. You must pay for a ticket.

Colorado Provencal makes it to our list for several reasons. First, you don’t need to spend days experiencing the best of hiking in France. Within two to three hours, you can finish the 5km hike. You also don’t need a lot of hiking expertise because it is not a difficult trail.

Colorado Provençal de Rustrel is in Luberon. The area was a rich source of ochre. The iron oxide in the ochre is responsible for the captivating colors in the landscape. Along the hike, expect to see doses of white, red, orange, pale yellow, violet, and brown.

4 Best Hiking Trails in France

The trail can be pretty slippery after the rain. So make sure you wear sturdy hiking boots that can handle such conditions.

Parts of the terrain comprise dry clay and sand. On a windy day, you could end up covered in dust. Wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen, as it can get quite hot.

Colorado Provencal is a UNESCO global geopark protected area. There are plenty of markings or guidelines. Please stick to this whether you are alone or in groups. Some of the sections have sharp cliff edges and really steep sections. The authorities do not allow horseback or bike riding.

Final Thoughts

France is a fantastic destination if you love hiking. The trails are stunning, and the range of options will suit your experience level.

The best piece of advice we can give is to use professional trekking services. The experts will put together a personalized, guided or self-guided tour. Their vast knowledge of hiking trails in France means you get to explore and enjoy the best the hiking trails have to offer.

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