The French have a long history of going on walks, whether it is in the mountains or through the valleys of the country. When it comes to enjoying hiking in France, there are a wealth of opportunities, from long-distance paths that can offer several hundred kilometers of trail or adventures in the Alps, through to day-walks that explore stunning regions of the country. Here are five hikes that are certainly worth considering if you are planning a holiday in France and that provide some of the best hiking to be enjoyed in Europe.
The Tour Du Mont Blanc
A 110 mile route that circles the beautiful Alpine peak of Mont Blanc, and also briefly crosses borders into Italy and Switzerland, this is a great hike that is well established and has good markings and hostels along the route. The highlights for many people will be the high alpine passes at over 2,600 meters above sea level, which offers some superb viewpoints over the Mont Blanc massif. This is a hike that can usually be completed in around eleven days, although there are sufficient points at which the hike can be accessed for those who only want to walk for a few days, or who want to cover the route in a longer or shorter period.
The Way of Le Puy
The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela is one that has routes starting in many towns and cities across Europe, and this is the portion of the way that takes visitors from the picturesque town of Le Puy to St Jean Pied Port on the border with Spain. Because of the popularity of the route there is a good level of accommodation to be found along the route, while the scenery is wonderful with sections through lovely valleys, along with the attractive historic buildings particularly seen between Conques and Cahors. For an even greater challenge, you can continue along the route across northern Spain to Santiago, which begins with the amazing crossing from St Jean across the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles, to make for an epic hike that will take most people around two months to complete.
Clere-les-Pins Loop, Loire Valley
This pleasant afternoon's walk in the Loire Valley takes in many of the features that typify the beautiful scenery of the area, while also taking you by some of the historic architecture in the region. The route begins and ends in the village of Clere-les-Pins, and takes you past the lovely Chateau de Champchevrier where several kings have visited since it was built in the sixteenth century, and the historic inn Hostellerie Saint-Louis. The path overall is around thirteen kilometers, and is well marked, and features some lovely woodland and farmland as well as the historic sights along the way as well.
This superb walking path takes visitors across some of the most beautiful, but rugged terrain to be found anywhere in France, with several mountain peaks to cross including Monte d'Oro and Monte Incudine, which is the highest point in Corsica and offers amazing views. There are refuges along the route that provide simple accommodation and food, although in the peak months of July and August they can sometimes be full, so a tent may be required. The path is well marked, but with several days where there is over 800 meters of ascent, it is certainly one where a good level of fitness is essential.
The Nietzsche Path
Beginning on the coast below the charming village of Eze Bord de Mer on the French Riviera, the path is named after the famous philosopher as it is said that he lived here for several years, and found great peace and overcame some of his challenges during his time here. The hike is a fairly short one that can be completed in a few hours and is a climb from the Mediterranean coast up to the hilltop village of Eze. The walk takes in some lovely views out over the sea, and inland towards the often snow-capped mountains, while the medieval village of Eze will mean that you'll want to spend some time exploring there once you arrive.