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Best Hiking Trails in France

Overview

France is one of the top countries in Europe for hiking.  France has about 180,000 km of marked trails, winding through stunning mountain scenery in the French Alps, French Pyrenees, and in other regions.  Take your pick from the many long distance trails, including the world famous Tour du Mont Blanc, as well as the numerous day hikes in the various national and natural parks.  The best time to go hiking in France is in the summer and early fall.  Read below for more information on where and when to go hiking in France.    

Capital: Paris

This page only includes information about hiking in mainland France; for its departments, overseas territories, see Corsica, Réunion, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Mayotte 

When To Hike in France?

May – October: For most hikes in the higher altitude regions (ie. in the Alps or Pyrenees), June – September are the ideal months
November – April: Cold and snowy

Climate: Continental – hot summers, cold winters

 

France Monthly Weather

Accessibility of Hiking

Easy: There are well-marked trails throughout and there are numerous books and websites with a lot of useful information so that you can do proper planning.  Some areas, such as in the Alps, have an extensive mountain hut system.

Transportation required: A car is very handy for day hikes

Where to stay in France: There are many places you can base yourself for hiking in France, just a handful of towns listed below

  • Cauterets – French Pyrenees
  • Chamonix – French Alps
  • Bourg d’Oisans – Alps, Ecrins National Park
  • Briançon – Alps, Ecrins National Park

Most popular hikes in France

The main hiking areas are in the French Alps, the Pyrénées, the Jura and the Massif Central, many of them located within the national and nature parks. Highest Mountain: Mont Blanc (4808 m) (shared with Italy)

Filter out hiking places of France by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Parc national des Calanques

Jura Mountains

  • May – Oct
  • Range of mountains bordering Switzerland
  • Parc naturel régional du Haut-Jura (Jura Mountains Regional Natural Park) – HAUT-JURA RANDO 

Auvergne/Massif Central

Pyrénées

French Alps

Long Distance Trails of France

France has thousands of km of long distance trails. A small listing below

  • Grande Randonées – Sentiers de Grande Randonnée – Mon GR
  • Tour de Mont Blanc – 170 km trek around Mont Blanc, and through France, Switzerland and Italy; one of the top treks in Europe – Tour du Mont Blanc
  • Hexatrek – France’s thru-hike, 3034 km trek from Vosges to Pyrenees – Hexatrek
  • GR10 – through the Pyrenees on French side – GR10
  • Pyrenean Haute Route – follows the Pyrenees over the highest peaks, crossing between France and Spain

France's Walking & Hiking Resources

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France Hiking Books: Numerous books on hiking in France, just a sampling:

  • Lonely Planet Best Day Hikes France 2, by Ashley Parsons, 2024, Lonely Planet – https://amzn.to/3IR6ihg
  • 100 Hut Walks in the Alps: Routes for day walks and overnight stays, Cicerone Guide, by Kev Reynolds, 2017, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/4cIxPzk
  • Mont Blanc Walks: 50 day walks and 4 multi-day treks, Cicerone Guide, by Hilary Sharp, 2016, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/49dEM8D
  • Walking Chamonix Mont Blanc (Unmissable Hikes in France), by Andrew McCluggage, 2020, Knife Edge Outdoor – https://amzn.to/43Bx3Qf
  • Walking in the Haute Savoie South: 30 Day Walks – Annecy, Vallée de l’Arve, Samoëns, and the Chaîne des Aravis, 3rd Edition, Cicerone Guide, by Janette Norton, 2017, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/4cyXSZK
  • Walking in the Haute Savoie North: 30 Day Walks – Salève, Vallée Verte, Abondance, Bellevaux, Morzine, by Janette Norton, Alan Norton, Pamela Harris, 2017, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/4cwNdP2
  • Walks and Climbs in the Pyrenees: Walks, climbs, and multi-day treks, by Kev Reynolds, 2019, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/4ctNpP5
  • Walking in the Auvergne: 42 Walks in the Massif Central, by Rachel Crolla and Carl McKeating, Cicerone Guide, 2013, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/3TxvFJW
  • Walking in Provence – East: Alpes Maritimes, Alpes de Haute-Provence, Mercantour, by Janette Norton, 2014, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/3ITPYfS
  • Walking in the Briançonnais: 40 walking routes in the French Alps exploring high mountain landscapes near Briancon, by Andrew McCluggage, 2018, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/3IRrKD1
  • Trekking the Tour of Mont Blanc: Complete two-way hiking guidebook and map booklet, by Kev Reynolds, 2023, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/4cA8FTe
  • The GR10 Trail: Through the French Pyrenees, Cicerone Guide, by Brian Johnson and Stuart Butler, 2023, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/3PBtILr
  • The GR5 Trail: Through the French Alps: from Lake Geneva to Nice, 3rd Edition, by Paddy Dillon, 2016 – https://amzn.to/4aqRXnx
  • The Pyrenean Haute Route: the HRP high-level trail, by Tom Martens, 2019, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/4arJdgW
  • Shorter Treks in the Pyrenees: 7 great one and two week circular treks, by Brian Johnson, 2019, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/3PC6ZyX
  • Trekking the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail: the GR70 through the Cevennes/Massif Central, by Nike Werstroh, 2021, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/3IPNdMy

 

France Hiking Associations:

Best Day Hikes in France: It is impossible to choose a handful of best hikes in France as there are so many but here are a few

  • Lac Blanc – Alps
  • Cirque du Fer-a-Cheval – Pyrenees
  • Cagire Loop – Pyrenees
  • Grand Balcon Sud – Alps
  • Robert Lakes Loop – Alps
  • Lac Cornu – Alps
  • Lac Eychauda – Alps
  • Ayous Lakes Circuit – Pyrenees
  • Lac d’Espingo – Pyrenees

Easy Hikes in France:

  • Cirque de Gavarnie
  • Lac d’Allos
  • Mont St. Michel

France Hiking Websites:

 

France Weather site:

 

France Official Tourism Organizations:

 

France Hiking Apps:

 

France Hiking Maps: There are lots of hiking maps available

What Else To Do

  • Other areas to hike:
  • Normandy beaches
  • Wine-related stuff
  • Art
  • History
  • Food

Other Important Points

  • Avoid holidays in the summer (such as July 14) as it can become crazy busy on the roads