Covering the second-largest country on the continent, it’s no surprise that our walking holidays in France offer almost unbeatable variety. Taking in the vast peaks of the French Alps and the mountainous landscape of Corsica and the unspoilt valleys of the Dordogne, you’ll be fortified by the country’s famously excellent food and wine along the way, too.
Stretching from the Atlantic Coast to the Mediterranean, the Pyrenees forms a natural border between France and Spain. It’s a mountain range renowned for its mixed limestone and granite geology, rugged peaks, deep canyons and almost endless opportunities for activities and exploration.
For somewhere distinctly different, try the mountainous island of Corsica. As well as offering majestic landscapes and varied terrain for walkers, the island’s Italian influence has created a language, culture and cuisine all of its own.
Maintaining that Mediterranean feel is the French Riviera, with trails setting out from the heart of the Cote d’Azur. On these walking trips in France you’ll traverse coastal paths and colourful mountain villages, all while taking in the fine views over a region lauded across the world for its glamour and beauty.
Top 5 Highlights of Walking Holidays in France
One of the most impressive and famous peaks, Mont Blanc is the tallest mountain in the Alps and provides a stunning backdrop for walking holidays in France. Made up of remote trails through the seven valleys surrounding the mountain, the Mont Blanc Circuit offers one of the best ways to explore this dramatic region. Explore glacial peaks and soak up phenomenal views that reward you throughout your trek.
Boasting more than 300 chateaux, the Loire Valley is one of the most scenic and architecturally impressive regions of central France. Explore fairytale chateaux that perch on grassy hillsides, walk among the lush vineyards along the Loire River and sample some of the finest wines in the world. Some of the most iconic chateaux include the Renaissance Chenonceau and Amboise, where you’ll find the final resting place of the famous French artist Leonardo da Vinci.
Gardens of the French Riviera
Brimming with natural beauty, the Cote d’Azur is renowned for its sun-drenched coastal trails, alpine villages and idyllic gardens. Filled with aromatic citrus trees, the gardens of the Palais Carnolès and Musée des Beaux-Arts are particularly stunning, or you can head up to Mont Bastide from Eze to explore the Exotic Garden. Surrounding the town of Menton, you’ll also find eight beautiful gardens.
Food and Drink
Walking in France isn’t just about exploring the scenery and historical sites, it’s also about immersing yourself in the culture. And what better way to do that than by indulging in the country’s food and wines. From local boulangeries (bakeries) overflowing with pastries, breads and cakes, to coastal restaurants where the fish is unbelievably fresh, gastronomes will be in foodie heaven.
The Villages and Mountains of Corsica
Nuzzled between the mountains of France and Italy, Corsica is a unique destination with an unrivalled beauty. Tucked away in the mountains you’ll find ancient hilltop villages where the culture and scenery are soul-stirring. From the lofty heights of Bocognano to the forested slopes of Vizzavona, Corsica provides a breath-taking backdrop for walking holidays in France.
FAQs on France Walking Tours
When is the best time for walking in France?
Depending on which part of France you’re visiting, the weather and recommended travel dates will vary. In the French Alps, between June and September generally provides ideal hiking conditions when there is little rain and there are longer daylight hours. But if you want to explore the French Riviera on foot then it’s best to avoid travelling during July and August when the temperatures can soar. May, June and September are great months for walking as there are less crowds and the temperatures are slightly cooler.
Is Mont Blanc hard to climb?
Standing at almost 5,000m at the heart of the French Alps, Mont Blanc is an imposing and dramatic peak. While the mountain isn’t technically difficult to climb, there are, however, lots of scrambling sections and long days of walking uphill so you will need a reasonable level of fitness and stamina to complete the trek. Mont Blanc also has a lower altitude and milder climate than other mountains, so it’s considered moderate to challenging.
Which is the best region of France for wine tours?
Known for its verdant vineyards and ridiculously picturesque landscapes, France is one of the best countries in the world for enjoying wine tours. From the world-famous Champagne region to the heavenly Loire Valley, you’re totally spoilt for choice. Burgundy’s vineyards are some of the finest in the country producing the likes of Pinot Noir and Beaujolais, while in Vouvray you can take a tour of the wine cellars and learn about the history and cultural importance of the region’s wines.
What are the best walking trails in France?
Combining soaring alpine peaks, fairytale chateaux and medieval villages, France is home to endless walking trails that capture its pure beauty, history and culture. A few of our favourite walking routes include the epic Mont Blanc Circuit, the scenic Loire Valley and Corsica’s mountain trails. Alternatively, discover the country’s sun-bleached coastline along the stunning French Riviera. The famous GR20 is one of the most exhilarating long-distance routes, which leads you through beech and pine forests and presents you with uninterrupted views of Monte d’Oro.
How many chateaux are in France?
There are an estimated 45,000 chateaux in France and on many of our walking tours you’ll have the opportunity to explore many of them. In the Loire Valley alone, there are 300 castles strewn across the region and clinging to the hillsides. Once home to royalty, the chateaux were built using Renaissance or French baroque architecture, which gives them their distinctive fairy-tale appearance.
Is Normandy a good place for walking?
If you’re a lover of history, nature and culture, then you’ll find Normandy a fabulous region for walking holidays. As well as discovering the dark WWII history and walking along the D-Day Landing beaches, you can explore gorgeous landscapes that have inspired many French impressionist artists. Honfleur, Tour-en-Bessin and Bayeux are incredibly beautiful and brimming with ancient buildings and fascinating sites. At Trouville, walk along the famous boardwalk of Deauville where celebrities are seen during the American Film Festival.
What are the best things to see in the Pyrenees?
Owing to its emerald lakes, cascading waterfalls and wildflower meadows, the Pyrenees provides a wonderful backdrop for walking holidays in France. As well enjoying the most awe-inspiring panoramas from vantage points such as the Pic du Midi and Cirque de Gavarnie, you can visit Gaube Lake to see the mountain scenery reflecting on the surface. The Observatory of the Pic du Midi is also worth visiting to experience a moment beneath the stars. On your walks you’ll also encounter the area’s varied flora and fauna.
France Walking Tours
8 Daysfrom£ 1,799
Guided Group (Excl. Flights)
Walk the best of Mont Blanc Circuit in France and Italy
The circuit of Mont Blanc is one of the finest walking routes in the Alps. It is in reality a series of paths linking the seven valleys that surround the highest mountain in Western Europe, Mont Blanc. To complete the whole circuit normally takes a fortnight, but for those with less time this one-week Exodus tour takes in the most outstanding sections with beautiful mountain highlights each day.
I booked this trip last minute to join my mum and cousin and I have no regrets! It was an amazing week of trekking in the most glorious scenery, with an utterly lovely bunch of people. I spent lots of time in the Alps as a child, so this trip was not only nostalgic but also brought me to brand-new places. It was definitely a challenging week but in the best way possible. We were very lucky to have Mariá as our guide, he was generous, kind and patient with us all, sharing his extensive knowledge of the mountains, ecology and wildlife along the way and making us all feel part of the team. The accommodation and food were amazing, despite my awkward dietary requirements, each hotel was a delight in its own way and offered far more comfort than I was expecting. I left the week feeling heart-full and accomplished. What more could you ask for. I highly recommend this trip!
I just had a fabulous week at Chalet Chalupa! The hosts, Adrian & Helena, were amazing. They were very friendly and always made sure that we’re happy. They always prepared delicious meals and cakes with wide variety (local, Mediterranean, healthy and oriental) and we all enjoyed it together with the group of great people. The room was specious and comfortable, the common areas were also always clean and had warm atmosphere. The car ride by them was also really fun and informative about the trip/area. Our guide, Shaun, was very knowledgeable and flexible based on the weather etc. This was my first hiking experience and he absolutely made it special. Everyday there were full of amazing views and walks!
We’ve just returned from this trip and it was amazing. The views are stunning on this trip, Maria was our guide and he was just great. He got us safely round, motivated us when we needed it and was a pleasure to spend time with. The lodges are great, there’s towels and shower gel provided. Some had hairdryers but not all. After a days trekking it was great to have a few drinks and a nice meal with the group, we did the pack ups just for easiness which were pricier but good, there were more options for buying your own stuff the second half of the trek. We ended up with 8kg in our bags and we had everything we needed, packing lightly is the key as you’ve also got water and pack up to carry! Fitness wise it’s a hard but doable trip, the fitter you are the more you’ll enjoy it, the uphills are a slog but the views are worth it. We personally found walking poles a necessity, they saved my joints a lot especially on the downhills. We had a few dips in the rivers but just in our walking gear, it was cold but very refreshing at the end of the day! The last two nights we spent in Chamonix and it was great to have your spare bag for fresh clothes and a few little luxury’s. Highly recommend this trip, if your in doubt just book it, Exodus are a great company to travel with, thanks again Maria for being a great guide!