Hiking in France - 6 Best Hiking Trails in France


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Hiking in France - 6 Best Hiking Trails in France
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France is more than just visiting the Eiffel Tower, walking along the Arc de Triomphe and eating baguettes. A walking holiday in France is an excellent way to get to know the country thoroughly. Hiking through vineyards, the most beautiful French hut tours in the Alps and Pyrenees and the pilgrim routes to the South. Sounds good, doesn't it? In this blog, we will inform you about France's most beautiful hiking routes, including a trail around Mont Blanc, hut-to-hut tours in the Pyrenees and the famous pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, which can also be started in France.

At Bookatrekking.com, we love hiking and when we are not going to Kilimanjaro or Nepal, we like to head out into Europe by ourselves. One of the many Steigs in Germany, endless Alpine pastures in Austria, the beautiful Dolomites or on a hut-to-hut hike in the Alps. If we go for the latter, we can't really avoid France. A hut tour in France is the absolute best so no wonder you will come across some of the best options in this blog. But there's more, as we also like to take you on the Camino Francés, the French way to Santiago de Compostela. Allez!

Hiking in France: The 6 Best Routes

France is a wide and varied country and you will find trekking routes everywhere you go. However, there are some trekking routes that stand out from the rest. Here are our favourite options for your walking holiday in France.

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1. It Doesn’t Get Any Better: Tour du Mont Blanc

The best-selling hut-to-hut tour on Bookatrekking.com and for good reason. On this hike, you trek around Europe's most famous mountain; Mont Blanc. You usually start in Chamonix, France, from where you will eventually arrive back in Chamonix via Italy and Switzerland in 10 days and some 170 kilometres of hiking.

Along the route you will encounter many typical mountain huts where you can stop for a cup of coffee, local lunch or overnight stay. Hiking days consist on average of 6 to 8 hours and are characterised by beautiful views of the glaciers surrounding Mont Blanc and challenging passes where you regularly pass the 1,000 altimeters per day. This means the trek is no 'walk in the park'. While the route can be completed by almost anyone, if you join untrained, or if you don't exercise regularly, chances are you won't enjoy it as much.

Mountain huts on the Tour du Mont Blanc open around 15 June when most of the snow has disappeared from the trails. Most of the huts offer half-board, including breakfast and dinner. We strongly recommend you choose this option. A hot meal at the hut is not only a nice end to a long hiking day, but also makes your bag lighter.

If you want to know more, you can read our extensive longread about the Tour du Mont Blanc. The Tour du Mont Blanc is fully booked every summer, so if you are keen don't wait too long. We have several package deals where you can choose half of the route (Western Tour du Mont Blanc) or the entire route. Check out all the options here.

1. It Doesn’t Get Any Better: Tour du Mont Blanc

2. A Great Alternative: Tour du Mont Thabor

The Grande Randonnée GR57 is better known as the Tour du Mont Thabor. This is a loop around the lesser-known but still very striking Mont Thabor, in Vallée de la Clarée in the Hautes-Alpes. Vallée de la Clarée is a sheltered, dead-end valley north of the fortified town of Briancon, on the border between France and Italy and part of the pristine Massif des Cerces. There are no ski slopes or other large-scale tourism, this valley is only for hikers, cyclists and other nature lovers.

Like other hut tours in the Alps, it is best not to plan this trek before mid-July. In early summer, the high passes may still have snowfields. The nice thing about Vallée de la Clarée and the Tour du Mont Thabor, is that these are not only suitable for experienced mountain goats, but also make hut-to-hut tours possible for families. Read more about the Tour du Mont Thabor and find the best packages for this well-kept secret.

2. A Great Alternative: Tour du Mont Thabor

3. The Hardest: GR20 in Corsica

The GR20 in Corsica, also known as fra li Monti, is a GR footpath that crosses the Mediterranean island of Corsica and runs roughly from north to south. The whole route is about 180 km long with an altitude difference of 12,000 m. Although it takes about 15 days to complete, the route can be divided into 2 stages: the northern part, between Calenzana and Vizzavona, and the southern part, between Vizzavona and Conca.

This GR route is considered none of the toughest of all GR routes, are you brave enough to give it a try? For the GR20, some mountaineering experience is recommended. The trek requires some scrambling, use of chains, and a ladder (on the northern section) and a confident stride for the rocky landscape and ridges. To take on this challenge yourself, you must be a confident mountain hiker and, above all, be able to read route descriptions and determine your position on the map when necessary.

If you're looking for a real hiking adventure in Europe, the GR20 is the way to go. "Europe's toughest trekking route", are you brave enough to try it? No matter which direction you choose or if you only do part of the trail, the GR20 will not disappoint. If you want to know more about the GR20, you can read our extensive blog post.

At Bookatrekking.com, we have deals for the whole route, but also just for the Southern or Northern part. Check out all our options here.

3. The Hardest: GR20 in Corsica

4. From France to Switzerland: Walker's Haute Route

There is 200 kilometres and 15,200 elevation metres between Chamonix and Zermatt. The highest point reached is a whopping 2,987 metres. The statistics for the Walker's Haute Route will blow you away. While you will see amazing mountain passes, glaciers, charming towns and stunning valleys, the Haute Route is also known for its fantastic food and wine - and bonvdien promises an exhilarating hut tour. The Walker's Haute Route does a bit of Tour du Mont Blanc and then goes its own way, into Switzerland. According to enthusiasts, this route is prettier than the TMB. You will have to have walked them both to come to that judgement.

The Walker's Haute Route is a huge challenge. The trek's distance of roughly 200 kilometres over rough terrain, altitude gains, steep climbs and descents make it more difficult than, say, the popular Tour du Mont Blanc. Weather conditions and sometimes unstable trail conditions make the trek even more exciting. Curious? Read our blog post about the Walker's Haute Route here and also check out the packages for our hut tours.

4. From France to Switzerland: Walker's Haute Route

5. Mercantour National Park in the Alpes Maritimes

Just a stone's throw from Nice on the world-famous Côte d'Azur, you will find one of the last truly wild places in the Alps. While the Côte d'Azur welcomes more than 10 million tourists a year, only a fraction make the 1-hour drive to this terre sauvage. Mercantour is one of 10 French national parks and is more than 40 years old. Because the park is so close to Nice, it is a logical starting or starting point for hikes and hut tours in Mercantour. From here, you make your way to Saint Martin Vésubie. From there, you have easy access to the Mercantour sections of the GR52.

A hut-to-hut tour in Mercantour is slightly less Alpine than, say, the Walker's Haute Route or the Peter Habeler Runde in Austria. This, and the fact that the Alpes Maritimes have a fairly mild climate, make the threshold lower. If you are looking for a relatively mild but unspoilt hut-trekking experience, hut-trekking in Mercantour is an excellent choice. You can find everything about hut-to-hut-trekking in Mercantour and you can also click here to directly see our offers.

Bookatrekking.com has an ever-growing selection of hut-to-hut tours and remote mountain expeditions. Is your dream trip not among them? Contact our trekking experts and see what they can do for you!

5. Mercantour National Park in the Alpes Maritimes

6. Camino de Santiago from France

The Camino de Santiago is one of the oldest walking routes in Europe and Spain's best-known trekking route. Although most pilgrims decide to walk the last 100 kilometres of the route to reach Santiago de Compostela, the truth is that the Camino starts much earlier than that, on the French side of the Spanish/French border. Under the name Camino de Santiago or Chemins de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle in French, you will find several roads leading through a whole series of monuments related to the Camino as it passes through France.

These monuments have been included in the World Heritage since they were declared by UNESCO in 1998. In France, there are 4 main pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela: Via Tolosana, via Turonensis, via Podiensis, via Lemovicensis. The most popular route runs from Seant-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago and is aptly named the Camino Francés. You can read more about it here.

6. Camino de Santiago from France

Packing for Hiking in France

It doesn't matter where you are going trekking or for how long: Carrying the right equipment with you is paramount. For a hiking trip in the mountains, you will need, first and foremost, a good backpack. Its size will depend on how many days you will be spending in the mountains, the season, and the clothes you will be taking with you. We have prepared a packing list with some essential clothing that you should include and some extras that you may find useful:


  • Walking shoes (worn in)
  • Walking socks
  • Base layer tops – ideally thermal
  • Mid-layer tops (eg. fleece)
  • Trekking trousers
  • Hat for warmth or shade
  • Gloves
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Warm layer
  • Casual clothes & footwear for evenings
  • Nightwear and underwear
  • Water bottle
  • Sunglasses & sunscreen
  • Toiletries
  • Cash for in the huts
  • Walking poles
  • Crampons


  • Small first aid kit
  • Blister plasters
  • Insect repellent
  • Electrical socket adapter
  • Camera and charger
  • Map and compass
  • Whistle
  • Reading book(s)
  • Energy snacks
  • Buff

When is the best season for hiking in France?

The best time to hike in France is from May to October, but bear in mind that it can get crowded in summer. We recommend (if you can) avoiding the high season. Hiking in spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November) will allow you to enjoy less crowded, quieter trails.

How difficult are the hiking trails in France?

Most of the trails are relatively easy, except for Mont Blanc and the GR 20. However, it is always advisable to be prepared for a hiking route, especially if it involves several days. It is very important to be in good physical condition at the start of the route. You don't need to be a professional athlete, nor do you need to train as if you were climbing Everest Base Camp. However, your body should be used to regular exercise. In the weeks prior to the climb, we recommend that you hike the same distance as the stages of your chosen route. We also advise you to wear the boots that you will be using during the trek. It is necessary to break in the boots beforehand to ensure that they fit your foot properly to prevent blisters.

How Much Does a Hiking Holiday in France Cost?

From hut-to-hut in France

Hiking from hut-to-hut really doesn't have to be expensive. Huts are usually simple, but offer everything you need to recharge your mental and physical batteries for the next hiking day(s). For a typical hut tour in France, you can expect to pay around EUR 90 to EUR 100 per hiking day. This includes route description, navigation aid, your accommodation in a refuge, and half-board in the form of breakfast and dinner. For hut-hiking in general, we then recommend bringing 40 to 60 EUR pocket money per day. This is for lunch and your drinks. Most of our pocket money usually goes towards that ice-cold beer in the next hut.

Camino De Santiago

A self-guided walk on the Camino works differently from a hut-trekking in the Alps. You do not stay overnight in mountain huts but in comfortable inns and small hotels, have luggage transport included, breakfast and dinner are in many cases ready for you and a Credencial and Compostela are arranged for you. 8 days on the Camino Francés are already possible from EUR 565 per person.

Safe hiking tips for the France

When you go on walking holidays it is wise to be aware of a few points. Even if this is not your first time, you should never underestimate the mountains. Good tour planning and compliance with the regulations on the mountains will significantly increase safety. To ensure that your hiking holiday is a safe and enjoyable experience, here below you can find a list of 8 recommendations for safe hiking in the mountains:
  • Know your limits

    Hiking the France is the perfect outlet to escape from daily life. It is an endurance sport along with a beautiful nature experience with a positive effect on body and mind —as long as one is in good shape and has a realistic picture of one's possibilities and limits—. Never overestimate yourself or underestimate the route. Don't overdo it! Always choose the slower variant and take more time for your plans. Hiking under time pressure is not fun and at too fast a pace it can be dangerous. Be wise!

  • Plan carefully

    Good planning is half the work! Hiking maps, literature, the Internet and expert advice are invaluable when planning the route in the France and enable you to determine the length, altitude difference, difficulty and conditions of the hike. When planning group treks, the itinerary should always be planned for the weakest member of the group! The weather in the mountains can change incredibly quickly and rain, wind and cold all increase the risk factor. For this reason, always check the weather forecast beforehand and contact our trekking experts to find your way around before you start.

  • Be fully equipped

    Equipment is everything. In the most extreme case, it makes the difference between life and death, and in any case, it definitely makes the difference between having fun and having a bad time. Food and water, sunscreen and waterproof and warm clothes must always be in your backpack, as well as a first aid kit and a mobile phone with a full battery (in case there is an emergency). However, packing light makes walking easier, so don't take too much extra luggage with you. Your equipment should always be suitable for the terrain you'll be hiking on in the France.

  • Wear suitable footwear

    Good walking shoes protect your feet and provide a better fit. Shoes with a good fit, with non-slip soles, water-resistant and lightweight are a must for additional walking pleasure during the France. Trail running shoes are great for a weekend in the mountains, but on longer hikes or more technical trails, you'll want at least A/B hiking boots. That means it is recommended wearing high mountain shoes that are water-repellent with extra ankle support to prevent sprains.

  • Stay on marked trails

    France has endless marked hiking trails, which are controlled and maintained and should not be deviated from. It may be tempting, but it's not a good idea to take shortcuts or alternative routes through unmarked terrain. It increases the risk of disorientation and you're more likely to get lost and have accidents or fall in the mountains. Even steep slopes of packed old snow are often underestimated and dangerous. Are you in doubt? Better don't do it. For easy navigation we work with our trusted partner Komoot, whose interactive maps, also available offline, provide you with the necessary digital means to get from A to B. As a backup, make sure to bring a hiking guide or a paper map with you. FYI, 75% of stumbles occur due to carelessness on marked paths or roads, not in open terrain!

  • Take regular breaks

    Remember you're on a hiking holiday. Timely and regular breaks not only provide welcome relaxation but also make it possible to enjoy the France. The body needs a regular food and drink intake to maintain performance and concentration. Our advice is that if you have little time, it's better to follow the short itinerary than to speed up the long one.

  • Stay reachable

    If you are hiking solo or in small groups it is advisable to inform people back home about your plans, what route you are taking and when you plan to return. Even small incidents can lead to unpleasant emergencies so make sure you are available at all times. Bring a charged phone containing at least the phone numbers of immediate family members, your accommodations en route and the emergency phone numbers operating in the France.

  • Respect nature

    Leave no rubbish behind, prevent noise, stay on the marked trails, do not disturb wildlife or grazing animals, and respect protected areas.

Where can I book my walking holiday in France?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book many treks in France. We take care of all the details for you, give you personal trekking advice and give you the best service possible. Find all our offers for France here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of Trekking Experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is a walking holiday in France not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:


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