Walking holidays in France

Fewer places in Europe spark passion for walkers and hikers in the way France does. Complete with snow-capped mountains, rugged hills, glittering lakes, idyllic islands, and chateaux galore, it smoulders with natural beauty. And then, of course, there’s the prestigious wine villages and towns – many of which are famous for producing the best reds and whites on the planet.

Explore the French island of Corsica 

As the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean, the so-called Île de Beauté is a charmer for its crescent-shaped bays, sparkling waters, lofty peaks, wild landscapes, and well-established trails. It also comes with a whole lot of history, not least as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. Our walking holidays in Corsica focus on the island’s northern end, taking in the Revellata Peninsula, Cap Corse, Calvi Bay, and the perched villages of the Balagne. You’ll also get to follow sections of the Grande Randonnée trail (GR20) – the iconic 112-mile trek spanning almost the entire north-south distance of the island. 

Discover glittering Lake Annecy 

Getting all the love as Europe’s cleanest lake, the watery wonder in France’s Haute-Savoie region formed about 18,000 years ago from large glaciers in the Alps. Here you can stroll around the shoreline for turquoise waters and spectacular mountain panoramas before heading to Annecy’s compact Old Town to marvel at the flower-filled canals, count bridges (there are lots), relax in the Jardins de l’Europe, and admire the Palais de L’Île that sits in the middle of the Thiou – the country’s shortest river. Equally visit-worthy is the 12th century Tamié Abbey where Cistercian monks continue to produce the cheese of the same name.  

Hike a section of the Cathar Trail 

For unrivalled walks, hikes, and climbs, the 250-km Cathar Trail (GR367) stretches from Port la Nouvelle on the Mediterranean to the eastern foothills of the Pyrenees. Following in the footsteps of the Cathar people, you’ll get to hike a 58-mile chunk of this famous route – including crossing the border into Spain. The well-trodden trail rewards with plenty of interesting pitstops, including the villages of Mérens and Ax-les-Thermes, the town of Berga, and Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park – the mountainous wonderland with peaks that reach over 2,500 metres.  

Trek the majestic Mont Blanc massif 

For eye-popping views, little beats the Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in the Alps and the highest in Western Europe at 4,807 metres. Travelling in a clockwise direction, the trail will take you through the Alpine passes of France, Italy, and Switzerland, tempting with all sorts of attractions along the way. An undoubted highlight is Courmayeur, one of Italy’s most popular ski resorts located on Mont Blanc’s southern side. Here you can elevate your senses by taking a ride on Skyway Monte Bianco – the cable car that ascends to the altitude of 3,466 metres at its final stop. 

Spend time in sweet-scented Provence 

Mused about by the likes of Cézanne, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Matisse, Provence is the sunny south-eastern corner of France that enchants with incredible hiking terrain, sweeping coastlines, chocolate-box towns and villages, and wonderful local markets. It’s also famous for its purple-tinged lavender fields, especially during June and mid-July when the flowers are in bloom. There’s a slew of exciting walks on offer, including stops at Gréoux-les-Bains, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Quinson, and Régusse. 

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A Week in Provence - Rail Travel from London

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