December 18, 2015

Bring your snowshoes in case of deep snow during your winter walk © Lali Masriera

Exploring natural landscapes during winter is one of my favourite hobbies. I love heading outdoors and spending time trekking through the French countryside, finding my new favourite place. When I can get away for a few days, it’s great fun to plan a hiking trip, and I even pack my snowshoes just in case I veer off the beaten path! I’ve chosen some of my favourite places for winter walking, so that you can pack your bags and start exploring right away.

Walking the Somme Battlefields

If, like me, you consider yourself a bit of a history buff, walking the front lines of the Battle of the Somme is a great experience. There are some great walking routes in and around Péronne, with easy to follow field paths and tracks. The Somme region of France is easy to reach from Calais, located just a short drive to the south.

Leaving from the centre of Péronne, following signs to the Remembrance Trail will take you north, to the Chapel of Remembrance, which commemorates French participation in the Battle of the Somme. Passing Guillemont, you’ll eventually end up in the scenic commune of Albert. I love doing this short hike with friends, while chatting about the area’s history along the way. A stroll along the Somme canal is also a pleasant walk, and during the war, it was used to transport wounded officers.

The clear waters of Lac Vert

In my opinion, Lac Vert, also known as Green Lake, is one of the most picturesque parts of the French Alps. Located in the commune of Passy in the Haute-Savoie department, Lac Vert is a protected haven in the middle of a thick forest. Overlooked by the Mont-Blanc and Fiz mountain ranges, a walk around the lake will take you just one and a half hours (or two if you feel like taking your time).

In the winter, you’ll only have to access the route on foot, but you’ll find that paths are clearly marked, and this route is easy to walk all-year-round. The lake acquired its name because of its wonderfully-transparent water, which allows you to see the foliage growing on the bed of the lake. It’s especially beautiful when contrasted against the white snow in winter, so if you’re looking for a picturesque walk, this one shouldn’t be missed.

 Lac Vert is overlooked by two mountain ranges, and is incredible all-year-round.
Lac Vert is overlooked by two mountain ranges, and is incredible all-year-round. © Mirko Tobias Schäfer

Clermont-Ferrand and the Auvergne Volcanoes

Around Clermont-Ferrand is a great place to take a winter hike, as there are plenty of longer routes here, allowing you to spend an entire day exploring the French countryside. Clermont-Ferrand is my favourite place to go skiing in the winter, and I also love putting on my snowshoes and setting off on an adventure in the snow. Very close to the city, you’ll find two Regional Parks, the Auvergne Volcanoes and the Livradois-Forez.

Exploring these parks on foot is great fun, and you’ll be greeted by lakes, Romanesque sculptures and even castles. If you choose to explore the Auvergne Volcanoes, you’ll be greeted with sweeping views over Clermont-Ferrand, as well as forests, rivers and lakes which lie beyond the open hilly fields. Follow signs marked GR or PR and see where your walking adventure will take you!

 Take a hike through the Auvergne Volcanos in winter for an unforgettable hike.
Take a hike through the Auvergne Volcanos in winter for an unforgettable hike. © Francisco Gonzalez

Inspired to take a winter walk in France?

With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle you can get from Folkestone to Calais in 35 minutes, so pack your hiking gear and get going!

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