Hiking In France – My Picks For The Best Hikes In France

Updated: April 21, 2023
mont blanc france

France has a wide variety of trails to fulfil your hiking adventure needs.

From the snowy Mont Blanc massif, to the sparkling seas of the Mediterranean, the awe-inspiring diversity of French landscape is sure to inspire and impress you.

I’ve been fortunate to hike in France many times.

Here are my picks for the best long-distance and day hikes in France.

Best Multi-Day Hikes In France

 The Tour Du Mont Blanc

mont blanc du tacul

Probably France’s best known hike, the Tour du Mont Blanc is a classic 110-mile hike that circles the Alpine peak of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe. This hike is one of the longer French hikes you can choose to do, and you will briefly cross borders into Italy (see Italy hikes) and Switzerland (See Switzerland hikes) along the way.

The full Tour du Mount Blanc is a beautiful scenic route, but with over 10 km of accents and descents along the way, it can be a challenging hike.

However, if you don’t fancy conquering the whole strenuous hike it is possible to break the route into smaller sections according to your preference. You can also use public transport and lifts to speed up or shorten your hike.

You may also like our Mont Blanc climb guide.

Route Napoléon

route napoleon
View between Castellane and Sisteron on the Route Napoléon. Photo by Dennis Jarvis.

The Route Napoléon is a breathtaking journey through the heart of France, tracing the footsteps of one of the most iconic figures in history. The trail spans a distance of approximately 325 kilometers, making it a challenging but rewarding adventure for hikers of all skill levels.

Starting in the picturesque town of Golfe-Juan, where Napoleon first set foot on French soil after his exile, the trail winds its way through the rugged landscapes of the Alps, offering panoramic views of snow-capped peaks and lush valleys.

After crossing the majestic Vercors mountains, the trail descends into the Auvergne region, known for its dramatic volcanic landscapes and rich cultural heritage. Here, you’ll find quaint medieval villages and stunning chateaus, as well as ample opportunities to sample the region’s world-renowned cuisine and wines.

Finally, the trail culminates in the vibrant city of Grenoble, where you’ll be welcomed by the bustle of city life and a rich cultural scene. The journey takes an average of 15 days to complete, although some intrepid hikers may choose to tackle it in a shorter timeframe.

The Grandes Randonnées (GR)

GR10 Pyrenees

The Grandes Randonnées are a series of long distance walking tracks across France. The GR footpaths aren’t limited to France and weave throughout Europe, and are also found in Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain (see hikes in Spain).

However, I my opinion the best of GR’s can be found in France.

The GR’s have coloured coded symbols that mark the various trails. Red and white are the colours that indicate the GRs and yellow the PRs (which are the shorter tracks). Be aware that you have to keep your eyes open along the way, so as to not miss some of the markings.

The GR tracks vary in difficulty, from being easy enough for the whole family to much more difficult (see GR20 below)

See our guide to the GR10 and other hikes in Europe.

GR20 Hiking Trail in Corsica

GR20 France
Photo by Jerome Bon

If you are looking for a serious challenge, the GR20 trail in Corsica is one of Europe’s toughest.

The GR20 covers 112 miles and consists of two parts, so you can decide to walk the whole trail or just a section of it. The northern section is more difficult but is also considered more beautiful, with the southern section less spectacular but slightly easier.

See our GR20 guide.

Remembrance Circuit

Pointe du Hoc

The Remembrance Circuit, also known as the Remembrance Trail, is a powerful and moving hiking trail that takes visitors through some of the most significant World War II sites in France. The trail is a poignant tribute to the soldiers who fought and died in this historic conflict, and provides an opportunity for visitors to learn more about the country’s rich military history.

The Remembrance Circuit is located in the Normandy region of France, and covers a distance of approximately 80 kilometers. The trail begins at the historic town of Sainte-Mère-Église, which was the site of a major paratrooper landing during the D-Day invasion. From there, hikers will visit other key sites such as the Normandy American Cemetery, the Pointe du Hoc, and the Arromanches-les-Bains D-Day Museum.

There are many different paths to explore on the Remembrance Circuit, so if you only have a day, then you can choose a section that most interests you without committing to the full circuit.

Best Day Hikes in France

The Nietzsche Path

Eze France
Panoramic view of Eze. Photo by Maurits Verbiest.

The Nietzsche Path is a short but stunning hiking trail that offers breathtaking views of the French Riviera. The trail is named after the famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who is said to have walked this path during his visits to the region. The trail runs from the charming hilltop village of Eze, winding its way down to the picturesque Eze beach below.

Starting in Eze Village, the trail follows a series of steep stone steps and narrow paths that wind through fragrant pine forests and rocky outcrops. Along the way, hikers will be treated to stunning views of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, as well as the lush greenery of the surrounding hillsides.

As you make your way down the trail, the landscape gradually changes, with the rocky terrain giving way to more verdant surroundings. Eventually, you’ll arrive at the picturesque Eze Beach, a secluded cove with crystal-clear waters and pristine sand.

The trail is relatively short, taking just 1-1.5 hours to complete, but the views and experiences it offers are truly unforgettable.

Walk to the Cirque de Gavarnie

Cirque de Gavarnie
View of the Cirque de Gavarnie. Photo by Coline Buch

The Cirque de Gavarnie is a natural wonder of the French Pyrenees, and the nature walk to reach it is a truly unforgettable experience. The hike offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, as well as the majestic Gavarnie waterfall that cascades over 400 meters down the mountainside.

The nature walk to Cirque de Gavarnie is approximately 9 kilometers long and takes about 2-3 hours to complete. The trail is well-maintained and suitable for hikers of all skill levels, although there are some steep sections that may be challenging for beginners.

Blanc-Martel Trail

Gorges Du Verdon
View of the Gorges Du Verdon. Photo by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho.

The Blanc-Martel Trail, also known as Sentier Blanc-Martel, is one of the most stunning day hikes in France. The trail is located in the Verdon Gorge, a spectacular canyon in the heart of Provence, and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs and turquoise waters of the Verdon River.

The Blanc-Martel Trail is approximately 15 kilometers long and takes between 6-8 hours to complete. The trail is well-maintained but can be challenging in places, with steep ascents and descents along the rocky terrain. However, the stunning views and unique landscapes make it a must-do for any avid hiker.

Cap Ferrat Hiking Trail

T he stunning Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Photo by Fred Romero.

The Cap Ferrat Hiking Trail is a stunning coastal trail that winds its way around the Cap Ferrat peninsula, offering breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and the French Riviera. The trail is approximately 8 kilometers long and takes around 3-4 hours to complete.

Starting from the charming village of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, the trail takes hikers through a series of picturesque coastal paths and forested areas. Along the way, hikers will pass by a number of stunning viewpoints, including the iconic lighthouse at the end of the peninsula.

The Cap Ferrat Hiking Trail is relatively easy to navigate and is suitable for hikers of all skill levels. However, there are some steep sections and uneven terrain, so sturdy shoes are recommended. The trail is also well-signposted, making it easy to follow.

Trekking in France FAQ

When is the best time to hike in France?

The best time to hike in France varies depending on the region and the type of hiking you want to do. In general, spring (March-May) and fall (September-November) offer mild temperatures and fewer crowds, making them ideal for hiking. Summer (June-August) can be hot and crowded, but it’s also the best time to access higher elevations and mountain trails. Winter (December-February) is best for snowshoeing and winter sports in the Alps.

What is the hardest hike in France?

The GR20 trail in Corsica is widely considered to be the toughest hike in France. It covers 170 kilometers through the rugged mountains of Corsica and includes challenging terrain, steep ascents and descents, and exposed ridges. The hike usually takes around 15 days to complete and requires a high level of physical fitness and mountain experience.

What is the most famous hiking trail in France?

The most famous hiking trail in France is the Tour du Mont Blanc. This trail circles the Mont Blanc massif and passes through three countries (France, Italy, and Switzerland). It’s a challenging but incredibly rewarding hike, offering stunning alpine scenery, charming mountain villages, and delicious local cuisine. The trail is approximately 170 kilometers long and takes between 7-12 days to complete.

What are the best hikes in the south of France?

The south of France offers a wide variety of stunning hiking trails. Some of the best hikes in the region include the Calanques de Marseille trail, the Sentier Blanc-Martel in the Verdon Gorge, the Cap Ferrat Hiking Trail, and the Mercantour National Park trails. The region also offers a number of stunning coastal hikes and mountain hikes, making it a great destination for hikers of all skill levels.

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About the author 

Mila Whitman

Mila has been to 5 continents, visited over 40 countries and hiked across some of the most famous mountain ranges including the Andes and the Atlas Mountains. As an AMS sufferer she learned a few techniques to reduce the symptoms and the effects on her hiking adventures.

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