Walking holidays in France

A walking tour of France's sites, trails – and gnomes!

Add This

Russ Sanchez

Russ Sanchez
HomeAway travel expert


Gnomes!I will be so bold as to say that it's been established, at this point, that France's beaches are among the crème de la crème of European holiday destinations. But France in fact caters for more than just the sun and sand set: from Provence's jaunty purple fields of spicy lavender, to the lush vineyards of the Loire valley, to the majesty of the Alps, France is a country of endless geographical variety. And as such, it offers a veritable cornucopia of walking trails, vistas, and points of interest both cultural and natural to the active vacationer.

Even better, learning to speak French Walking Trail is relatively simple, as France's official trails are helpfully classified according to length and shape. Long-distance walking trails are called Grandes Randonnées (GRs), and symbolized by a red and white stripe. Those that loop through a given area are called Grandes Randonnées du Pays (GRPs), and are marked by a red and yellow stripe. The shortest trails are called Promenades et Randonnées (PRs), and marked with just a yellow stripe.

This said, paper trail guides are always recommended – you know the one time you have GPS directions alone to rely on, you'll drop your phone down a well (or have it stolen by gnomes, or something – and yes, France categorically does have gnomes, or les lutins, dwelling amidst the countryside and peering upon walking paths). Many walkers recommend guides by the Fédération Française de Randonnée Pédestre, but those published by Cicero, although not available for as many trails, are perhaps the best written in English.


 

Walking holidays in France: everything you need to know


   

Walking holidays in France: Provence Walking holidays in France: Provence

The beauty of Provence is too widely acclaimed to need reiterating here. And ribboning through its beauties are a number of trails appropriate for walkers and hikers of all experience levels. The stunning Ardeche gorge offers kayaking and hiking opportunities besides gentler trails. Alternately, take a trip to the Medieval hilltop village of Biot, overlooking the river Brague, and from there trek through the Valbonne forest, an enchanting woodland of pine, ash and hazel, with several small waterfalls along its trail. Beware, though: the gnomes here can be very sassy, so do not tempt them to mischief by flashing your pains au chocolat and attracting attention to yourself.  

View cottages in Provence

 
   
 

   

Walking holidays in France: the Alps Walking holidays in France: the Alps

Although best known for the wintertime activities that send thrill-seekers criss-crossing down its slopes, the French Alps also provide much in the way of excellent walking and hiking opportunities. The Vanoise National Park, in fact, the largest such park in Western Europe, offers breathtakingly beautiful trails catered for every difficulty level, making it an ideal outdoor spot for – just about anyone, really: beginners, families, advanced walkers and mixed-level activity groups. The gnomes here can often be found wearing luxurious furs – but they're a conscientious bunch, and chances are the furs are all faux, so don't worry.

View cottages in the Alps

 
   
 

   

Walking holidays in France: Languedoc-Roussillon Walking holidays in France: Languedoc-Roussillon

A 'garrigue' is a low scrubland of resinous, aromatic plants. Lavender, rosemary, thyme – all the favourites. And it's the characteristic landscape of both Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon. More rugged and less immediately enchanting than some of France's other terrains, the French garrigues, with their openness to the warm Mediterranean sun, nonetheless exert a certain undeniable charm. They present an excellent opportunity to trek about under the wide sky, past towering stands of sunflowers – and perhaps over an ancient Roman road! The gnomes here are recognizable for wearing garlands of herbs, and, though generally friendly, absolutely sneer at gluten-free diets (they bake lovely breads themselves).

View cottages in Languedoc-Roussillon

 
   
 

   

Walking holidays in France: the Regordane Walking holidays in France: the Regordane

No discussion of French trails can leave out the Regordane Way. Historically one of the most important pilgrimages in early Christendom, the long and varied Regordane is a trail connecting Paris with lower Languedoc. Traversing France, it was once used by Crusaders to reach the port of St. Giles, gateway to the Holy Land. It crosses through Medieval villages, sites of religious importance, castles, the Chassezac gorge – and, along the GR 700, a contentious make-over of the Regordane that diverges from the historical trail at some points, accommodations and restaurants as well. Any gnomes you encounter here will have very strong opinions regarding religion and politics, so do mind your small talk.

View cottages in France

 
   
 

   

Walking holidays in France: Normandy Walking holidays in France: Normandy

Boasting miles of well-maintained infrastructure snaking through one of the most name-checked corners of France, Normandy is a can't-miss walking holiday destination. Its trails are numerous, and both seaside and inland. But for tipplers like myself, it's all about the Route du Cidre, or Cider Trail, a tour of 20 of the region's celebrated apple orchards. Depending on the season, you can participate in apple picking or honey harvesting at several of the orchards. Lovelier still, you'll also be able to learn about the making of apple ciders, and world-renowned, local apple brandy, Calvados – and sample some, too! Normandy gnomes are inveterate gossips, and like to spy on passing humans, who are mercilessly parodied on any of several popular gnome gossip blogs ('O, the Humanity', etc.).

View cottages in Norman

 

Walking Holiday Accommodation in France

Brand new, beautiful and peaceful Champs Elysees vicinity apartment.

Beautiful, quiet and ultra comfortable 1 bedroom apartment. The property is located on the fourth floor of a building which has 24 hour security and an elevator. The unit sleeps up to four adults comfortably and has a lovely view to flowered garde...

RUE DU LION - Charming XVIII century stone house.

DISCOUNTED RATES FOR AVAILABLE WEEKS IN JULY - CONTACT US ! ************************************************************** Situated in the picturesque medieval village of St Cyprien, Rue du Lion is the is the ideal base from which to explore the ...

MON CALME - Picturesque old farm, in true Perigordian style,

DISCOUNTED RATES FOR AVAILABLE WEEKS IN JULY - CONTACT US ! ************************************************************** If you are looking for a picturesque holiday home in the heart of the French culture... then look no further : Mon Calme wi...

BARAN - Superb traditional stone property, with panoramic view

DISCOUNTED RATES FOR AVAILABLE WEEKS IN JULY - CONTACT US ! ************************************************************** Combining modern comfort and the charm of the old stones, this house, accommodates you within a framework of greenery to ma...

MOTHE - A large beautiful villa in stone typically perigordine style.

DISCOUNTED RATES FOR AVAILABLE WEEKS IN JULY - CONTACT US ! ************************************************************** This beautiful well-equipped villa is set in a private secluded garden, near by the small village of Berbiguières and the b...

TREILLE HAUTE - Romantic hideway in the heart of Dordogne

DISCOUNTED RATES FOR AVAILABLE WEEKS IN JULY - CONTACT US ! ************************************************************** Maison Haute accommodates 4 persons and Maison Basse accommodates a maximum of 6 persons. Description of the MAISON HAUTE...

COMBEJALADE : THE PERFECT FIND FOR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS SEEKING RELAXATION

DISCOUNTED RATES FOR AVAILABLE WEEKS IN JULY - CONTACT US ! ************************************************************** A beautiful barn restoration set within acres of breathtaking countryside, in the heart of the Dordogne Valley. The cottage...

Breathtaking 17th Century stone Mas with infinity pool set in mature olive grove

A gorgeous 17th Century ‘mas’, completely renovated to a high standard to provide all modern comforts whilst retaining its charm and authentic features. The property has five bedrooms and four bathrooms (3 en suite), 2 reception rooms, TV den and ...

CIRCAUD - Calm and Abundance of Serenity for this old restorated farm

DISCOUNTED RATES FOR AVAILABLE WEEKS IN JULY - CONTACT US ! ************************************************************** Maison Circaud is a picturesque stones cottage set in a beautifull rural area. Set on its owns on a hilly position it enjoy...

TERRIOL - Pretty village house with 3 stars view.

DISCOUNTED RATES FOR AVAILABLE WEEKS IN JULY - CONTACT US ! ************************************************************** Le Terriol is a completely renovated, traditional house, providing spacious and comfortable accomodation for 6 adults plus ...

France mapCorsica Provence Alps Cote d'Azur Languedoc Roussillon Midi-Pyrenees Aquitaine Rhone Alpes Auvergne Limousin Poitou Charentes Franche Comte Burgundy Alsace Lorraine Champagne Ardenne Ile de France (Paris region) Centre-Loire-Valley Pays de la Loire Britanny Normandy Normandy Nord-Pas-de-Calais Picardie World Italy Spain


Search for holiday rentals

Search for holiday ideas
 


Bank Holidays & School Holiday Breaks

 

Sign up to our newsletter

Our latest updates and special offers, direct to your inbox

Advertise with HomeAway

Related Articles


 

Other Categories



Popular Articles