Sports & Outdoors

Walking holidays in France

Explore France on foot, from breathtaking mountain trails to dramatic coastal paths, on group tours, solo treks or short walks.

France is a wonderful place for walkers. Whether you prefer the security of a fully guided holiday or the freedom of the open trail, France offers some of the best walking routes in Western Europe.

Walking can be the best way to appreciate the beauty, colour and charm of the French landscape. From challenging mountain trails to more leisurely walking, there is something for everyone, from the coast of Brittany to the peaks of the Pyrenees.

Rocky shore at sunset with lighthouse, waves crashing against the rocks.

Walking holidays in France also have the benefit of guilt-free gastronomy. Where better than France, with its Michelin star restaurants and world-famous wineries, to fuel yourself up at the end of a hard day on the trail?

The perfect way to explore the French countryside

You can choose from a fully guided walking holiday, with luggage transfers, pre-booked accommodation and experienced guides, to more independent tours or shorter walks which will take only a few hours. 

We do not endorse any of the holiday links below, and it is certainly not an exhaustive list of the walking routes available  – you can walk more or less anywhere you want, or create your own itinerary.

Guided walking tours

There are plenty of options available for guided group tours, offering unique and inspiring trails with every detail taken care of. With an experienced locally based group leader there is no fear of getting lost!

Best of Medieval Burgundy

A historic castle is nestled on a wooded hillside, with a village below it and a road and fields in foreground.

In this charming six-day group tour you will be walking through the picturesque Burgundy landscape of rolling hills and vine-covered valleys. Along the way you will be visiting pretty villages, stopping off at vineyards and tasting the region’s local wines such as its world-famous Chardonnays. Medieval castles and churches dot the landscape, and you will be staying in welcoming guest houses on route.

Walks and gardens of the French Riviera

Explore the coastal paths and mountain trails of the Côte d’Azur, taking in beautiful gardens, mountain villages and some of the best views of the French Riviera. You could move from place to place or stay at a single-centre in one of the delightful coastal towns, depending on the itinerary of your chosen holiday. It is generally easy walking with no high altitudes.

Amazing Auvergne

The volcanic landscapes of the Auvergne region will take your breath away on this seven night, six day fully guided trip. There are astonishing views of some of the highest peaks of the Massif Central, historic villages, dramatic waterfalls and beautiful lakes. Among the highlights are the funicular ride to the highest volcano in the Auvergne, the 1465m Puy de Dome.

Les Baronnies: Secret Provence

Medieval town on hillside, before it a purple lavender field, trees and wooded hills.

Les Baronnies is a secret and unspoilt corner of Provence, with lavender-carpeted fields, rugged ravines and sleepy mountain villages. This six day guided tour is a combination of easy and moderate walking, with walkers able to sample the fantastic local cuisine and fine wines. You visit the historic towns of Buis les Baronnies and Nyons on your tour’s rest day, including a wine tasting.

Self-guided tours

‘Self-guided’ does not have to mean completely independent walking holidays. Some of these longer walks include luggage transfers and pre-booked accommodation. You might even get picked up at the end of each day and stay in the same hotel.

But if you are going it alone, make sure you do plenty of pre-planning. Plot your course on the country’s impressive network of long distance paths (more than 58,000 km of them!), and buy local maps from the French ramblers’ association, FFRP.

Wild camping is generally permitted in France, apart from on the coast, in protected natural sites and near historic monuments. Local restrictions may apply with regard to campfires, but as in the UK, the same basic rule applies – leave no trace.

The Granite Coast of Brittany

This coastal walk takes you along the rugged Brittany shoreline, with its pink rocks hewn into strange shapes by the Atlantic waves. A walk over three of four days could take in overnight stays at Plestin-les-Grèves, Lannion or Plougrescant.

If you fancy getting back in the car, here’s our guide to a driving tour in Brittany.

Le Pays du Mont Blanc

Hikers in a group walking down a high pass with spectacular snow-capped peaks in the distance.

If you only do one walking route in France, make it this Alpine section of the Grand Randonnée long distance route. On this seven day self-guided holiday, you will be walking mountain valleys and paths with stunning views of the 4,809m Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Western Europe, and the surrounding peaks. You will stay at alpine lodges, gites and hotels. The walking will be spectacular, but as you might expect, also challenging at times.

Nature Walk at the Cirque de Gavarnie

The Cirque de Gavarnie is a UNESCO Global Heritage site and one of the ‘must sees’ of the Pyrenees. A natural ampitheatre of jagged rock terraces and gushing waterfalls at the head of a dramatic valley, the Cirque de Gavarnie has inspired mountaineers, artists, poets and photographers with its awe-inspiring beauty.

You can get to the Cirque and back in 2-3 hours on this 8.5km walk, with 210m of ascent. It is generally easy walking on good paths, and ideal for families.

The Nietzsche Path from Éze Village to Éze Beach

It was while walking to and from the hilltop village of Éze in the Côte d’Azur, that the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche found inspiration for his novel Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Whether modern walkers are thankful to him or not may depend on whether you are trudging up or down the 5km hillside edge path! We suggest descending – the path is steep at times but affords breathtaking views of the bay below.

Blanc-Martel Trail in the Gorges du Verdon

A turquoise-coloured wide river flows through a huge steep sided gorge, with a few boats on the river on a summer’s day.

The Gorges du Verdon  in south eastern France has been called the ‘Grand Canyon of France’, and with good reason.

The Blanc-Martel trail is the most famous of the paths in the area, and uses a network of tunnels, bridges, stairs and rocky paths through the cliffs. The trail takes 6-7 hours and care is needed at some points.

Take plenty of water as there are no facilities until you reach the spectacular viewpoint (and bar!) of the Auberge du Point Sublime, from where there are buses and taxis back to the start of the trail.

What you’ll need for your walking holiday

Shoes/boots

The most important item for any walking holiday; you won’t get anywhere with battered old trainers. If you’re an experienced walker, you’ll know which you prefer; if not, ask for advice in an outdoor shop. And don’t forget to break in your new footwear before you travel!

Rucksack

A lightweight day pack will do for a guided tour; if you’re not relying on baggage transfers you’ll need a proper rucksack. Be wary of weight; don’t carry more than 1/5 of your bodyweight (13 kg is normally enough).

Other essentials include:

  • Thin waterproof for those wet days
  • Sun cream
  • Light, warm clothes – walking at altitude can be cold
  • Water
  • Walking poles – especially for older walkers

Start your walking holiday in France with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Walking holidays are all about taking your time and travelling at your own pace; but we can be quicker about getting you there. The crossing from Folkestone to Calais with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle takes just 35 minutes. Whether you’re off to hike in the French Alps or wander the Loire valley you'll have the security of knowing your own car is always within reach during your walking holiday in France.

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