Walking holidays

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With its beautiful, varied landscape and long tradition of hospitality, walking in France is a pleasure wherever you go.

The perfect way to explore the French countryside

Whether you're an experienced hiker looking to scale a mountain or a novice rambler who prefers not to get out of sight of civilisation, walking in France can be an incredibly rewarding holiday choice. More than 100,000km of walking routes criss-cross the country, catering to every level of expertise - the epic trek from Normandy to the Spanish border is just as accessible as a gentle stroll around Lille, although it may take a while longer.

Depending on whether you prefer to have your route planned for you or go it alone, there are a number of options available. You might prefer to send your luggage ahead and then travel stress-free with a knowledgeable guide, follow a route with your kids or fly solo with just compass and map. However you choose to travel, you'll find that a walking holiday in France is an unbeatable way to spend your hard-earned free time.

Alpine trail

Alpine trail

What you’ll need

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

If you’re planning to take a tour that transports your luggage, you can choose a lightweight day pack; if you’re carrying your own, you’ll need something sturdier. At the very least, make sure you’ve got plenty of room for the other essentials below.

Wet weather gear

Unless you’re planning to hike along the Mediterranean coast in August, there’s always a chance that the heavens will open - no matter how unlikely it seems, you’re better off carrying a thin waterproof you don’t need than forgetting it and walking all day in wet clothes. Plastic ponchos leave you great freedom of movement - or in an emergency, you could even use a refuse sack.

Sunscreen

Don’t forget, even when it’s overcast you can still burn. Something as simple as rucksack straps on freshly burnt shoulders can stop your walking plans in their tracks, so make sure you make regular stops to top up your UV protection.

Light, warm clothes

Use your judgment - if you’re travelling to the south of France in high summer, you’ll probably be fine in shorts and a t-shirt. But walking out of season, at altitude or on the coast can be a different story. Think ahead and make sure you can throw on an extra layer if necessary.

Water

Especially if you’re taking longer walks through the countryside, you may not see a shop or fountain for hours on end. Running out of water will impair your pace and may make you ill - be sure you’re always well supplied.

Amazing walking routes in France

Guided tours

Beaujolais medieval village tour - October

Explore the golden Beaujolais landscape over a six-day trip, traversing meadows, vineyards and forests as you travel from one guest house to the next. All meals and luggage transfer included. £655; minimum group is four people.

For more details

The undiscovered French Riviera – April to October

Based in Menton, “the pearl of France”, this seven-night stay at the Hotel Balmoral features daily walks with a local guide. Explore the local villages, tramp the flower-strewn coastal paths and take a trip to glamorous Monaco. From £799.

For more details

Self-guided tours

Brittany coastline

Brittany coastline

The Granite Coast of Brittany – April to September

Seven days of exploring the uncompromising Brittany shoreline, where the full force of the Atlantic surges along the very edge of the continent. A different hotel or guest-house (all 2-3*) every night, with breakfasts, four picnics and five dinners (including one at a Michelin-starred restaurant) included. From £835.

For more details

Le Pays du Mont Blanc - June to October

A challenging route for experienced hill walkers, this Alpine hike begins in St Gervais and winds through the meadows at the foot of Mont Blanc over seven nights. Experience the best of Savoyard cuisine and hospitality, with plenty of flexibility if you want to take a rest day or (in summer) explore the local flora with the Alpine expert who designed the walk. £995.

For more details

Independent trips

GR walking marker

GR walking marker

If you want to plan every aspect of your trip, you'll need to refer to France's impressive network of walking routes. The top-level Sentiers de grandé randonnée (think of them as the motorways of your walking holiday) total 35,000km of marked, signposted tracks, with smaller routes and circular paths through particular regions also found across the country.

There are many walking holiday options to explore here, but once you know which area you want to visit your best bet is to order the appropriate map from the French ramblers' association FFRP. These can go out of date relatively quickly, so make sure you have the most up-to-date version. They're only printed in French but all the information you need is in the clear 1:50,000 scale maps; if you can read French, however, you'll find the tips about each village useful too.

You can order togo-guides here

Getting there and around

Walking holidays are all about having the freedom to travel at your own pace; so the ideal way to actually get to France is with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. The crossing from England to Calais takes just 35 minutes, and whether you're planning to hike in the Pyrenees or walk along the Normandy beaches you'll have the security of knowing your own car is always within reach.

Maybe you could leave your car somewhere safe and plan a circular holiday route that brings you back to it in time to head home, or perhaps you'd prefer to walk in a different area each day and then drive on to a new setting and a friendly new hotel. With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, you have the power to personalise and finesse your walking holiday in France.

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Photo credit: Alpine trail - Brittany coastline - GR walking marker - Chevaux GR - Beaujolais medieval village tour - -

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from £30
Prices start from £30 per car, each way* *£30 Day Trip & Overnight - Ticket must be purchased as part of a 2 day return. Return must be completed by midnight (local time) on the second calendar day. Book your travel now