7 Best Hikes in France
by Anja Mutic
June 3, 2022 Adventure Experts
June 3, 2022 Adventure Experts
The French Alps are among the world’s most breathtaking natural environments, with resplendent scenery and storybook landscapes. While serious hikers will surely have the Mont Blanc on their list, there are other gorgeous hikes to be enjoyed across mainland France as well as on the island of Corsica. Add to all that the famed French flair, history, and culture, paired with delectable cuisine and wine, and you have the perfect trip.
First, this challenging 12-day trek takes you on the classic circuit, the Tour du Mont Blanc massif, where nature reveals itself at its most spectacular. Along the way, you will see enormous glaciers and hidden mountain lakes. The French part of the tour starts from Chamonix, in the shadow of Mont Blanc. You’ll hike beneath the Aiguilles Rouges along the Petit Balcon to Merlet, with magnificent views of the north face of Mont Blanc. Next, you will ascend an ancient Roman road to the Plan des Dames, and the peaks of Col du Bonhomme and Croix du Bonhomme. In the end, you are sure to spot some ibex and marmots; make sure to pause and admire the colourful wildflowers.
The Haute-Savoie, or Upper Savoy, consists of majestic mountain passes through the French Alps, from Chamonix to Annecy, and Mont Blanc to the Aravis. You get to hike across plateaus, conquer summits, and witness remains of WW2 history, adding layers of interest to this weeklong trip. You’ll visit the limestone Glières Plateau in the Bornes Massif, an important site rich in biodiversity and a stronghold for the resistance during World War II. You will also hike through the Aiguilles Rouge National Nature Reserve towards the Col des Montets mountain pass, passing Cheserys Lake; should the temperatures allow, you can take an icy dip.
Starting in the historic, UNESCO-protected Avignon, this seven-day tour is just pure beauty. You’ll meander among wild herbs and sun-dappled pine trees, up towards the jagged ridge of the windswept Alpilles. You’ll visit a producer of goat cheese for a tasting, and stop by local markets to pick up fresh produce for picnic lunches, paired with the best views one could ask for: the pastoral landscapes of Provence. Other highlights include seeing the ruins of Marquis de Sade’s castle, enjoying meals on family farms, touring the tiny medieval village of Gigondas renowned for its rich red wines, and wine tasting at a local estate.
On this extraordinary hiking adventure to Corsica, you’ll witness the dazzling landscapes of this Mediterranean island, with its mighty cliffs and peaks soaring above white-sand beaches. Starting in Ajaccio, the island’s capital and the birthplace of Napoleon, you take in the red-granite formations of the Calanches de Piana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then carry on through lush canyons, chestnut forests, and alongside fabled mountain lakes. From the port town of Porto, you go to the tiny village of Girolata, follow a high-ridge trail, and head down to the coast to laze on sandy beaches. All the while, you’ll be tasting the delightful Corsican cuisine.
While this challenging nine-day hike covers the Spanish and French Pyrenees, the French part of the journey takes place after hiking along the banks of the Ara River through beech and pine forests. At San Nicolas de Bujaruelo, you cross the river by a beautiful stone bridge, the remains of an old Roman road, and continue on through meadows and high pastures to reach the French border. Descending into the French town of Gavarnie allows you to enjoy spectacular bird’s-eye views of the amphitheater, where foaming waterfalls pour over 1,500-foot walls.
Stretching between Bidart and Hendaye, Sentier du Littoral is a coastal hiking trail that passes through incredible seaside scenery. The fragrant maquis perfume the air and rocky coves stand against the shimmering blue of the Atlantic. You can access the route from various locations between Bidart, Guéthary, St-Jean de Luz, Socoa, and Hendaye. Although it’s a 15-mile trek, you can do sections of it and take your time taking in all the beauty.
Lastly, the most famous walk in the Cévennes, and one of the best long-distance routes in all of France. You start the two-week trek in the forests of the Cévennes across the Mont Lozère massif, and go into the farmland and valleys of Gévaudan and Velay. The Mont Lozère range is made of tough, impenetrable granite, its fells, and peaks strewn with spring flowers. In the summertime, it’s full of heather, blueberries, and flowing streams. Overall, Chemin de Stevenson is absolutely perfect for hiking in those two seasons.