Hiking in France: these are its most beautiful mountain trails

Hiking in the French mountains...
Crossing the Alps
The Mont Blanc
The Balconies of the Mer de Glace
The Vanoise Park
Mont Ventoux
The Queyras
The Mercantour
The creeks of Cassis
Crossing the Pyrenees
Roland's Breach
The Néouvielle nature reserve
The Pic du Midi d'Ossau
The lakes of Auvergne
The way to Le Puy
Stevenson's Path
Crossing the Jura
Crossing the Vosges
The mountains of Corsica
Hiking in the French mountains...

...a dream come true! Who wouldn't love to breathe in the fresh mountain air and discover superb landscapes? Browse our photo selection of the most beautiful mountain hikes in France.

Crossing the Alps

In the highest massif of the country, the crossing of the Alps offers a breathtaking sequence of snow-capped peaks, lakes, and pastures... all in a setting that often changes suddenly. If you feel like it and have the time, the crossing from Lake Geneva to the beaches of the Mediterranean is 620 kilometers (385 miles) long and takes between three weeks and a month. You can also just travel only one section.

The Mont Blanc

The 'roof of Europe' is considered one of the most beautiful hikes in the world, straddling France, Switzerland, and Italy. There are several routes for the ascent, such as the Fenêtre d'Arpette, with more than 1,000 meters (3280,8 ft) of vertical drop and which reveals the Trient glacier on arrival.

The Balconies of the Mer de Glace

The Mer de Glace is one of the largest glaciers in the Alps. You can cross it before reaching the 'balconies' that overlook the icefield. Make sure you are well-equipped because the route requires good physical condition and is preferably aimed at experienced hikers.

The Vanoise Park

The Vanoise National Park is famous for its glaciers, its fauna (eagles, chamois), and its impressive flora. At a little over 3,000 meters (9842 ft) high, the Observation Point will allow you to admire a magnificent view of Mont-Blanc and the Barre des Ecrins.

Mont Ventoux

A famous stage of the Tour de France, Mont Ventoux is also the emblematic mountain of Provence. You can see it from anywhere in the Luberon valley. The summit offers a lunar backdrop and, when the weather is clear, a sumptuous panorama from the Mediterranean to the Alps.

The Queyras

In the Hautes-Alpes department, the Queyras natural park allows you to cross mountain villages preserved in their own style and a series of large lakes. The route is accessible to beginner hikers and you can also use a pack donkey carrying service.

The Mercantour

In the Alpes-Maritimes, very close to the Italian border, the Mercantour natural park connects the mountains to the sea. With peaks of nearly 3,000 meters (9842 ft) high, the route offers impressive elevation changes.

The creeks of Cassis

Let's leave the Alps and take a look at the Calanques de Cassis, a route starting from Marseille. It's not strictly speaking mountainous but still remains an essential hike. This national park is famous for its creeks where you can swim, its wild vegetation, and Cap Canaille, the highest cliff in Europe with its 363 meters (1,190 ft) high.

Crossing the Pyrenees

The other large mountain range in France, the Pyrenees, is home to hiking trails that have nothing to envy those of the Alps. The GR 10, or crossing of the Pyrenees, is a route of more than 1,000 kilometers (621,3 miles) from the Basque Country to Catalonia. Since the whole crossing is almost impossible to do at once, it is better to choose a specific place to admire the peaks of the southwest.

Roland's Breach

Legend has it that Roland (a military leader under Charles the Great) opened a breach in the mountain with his Durandal sword. In any case, the Brèche de Roland hike remains one of the most beautiful in France. The summit of the Pic du Taillon offers a panoramic view of the French and Spanish Pyrenees.

The Néouvielle nature reserve

If you love mountain lakes, then the Néouvielle nature reserve is made for you! With multiple lakes accessible by marked paths, the area is perched between 1,800 and 3100 meters (5,905- 10,170 ft) in height. An exceptional setting!

The Pic du Midi d'Ossau

Very close to the Basque Country, the Pic du midi d'Ossau is an ancient volcano almost 3,000 meters (9842 ft) high. It is recognizable by its shape which resembles that of a tooth.

The lakes of Auvergne

The GR 30 circles the lakes of Auvergne over a total distance of 190 kilometers (623 ft). It is an unjustly little-known route that connects several of the main lakes of the Massif Central, such as those of Pavin or Chambon, within a landscape marked by numerous volcanoes.

The way to Le Puy

At the start of one of the roads towards the famous Santiago de Compostela (the St. James town of pilgrimage) lies the Puy route, or GR 65. As its name suggests, this route begins at Le Puy-en-Velay, in the southern part of The Central Massif. The path takes you to the Basque Country via the Aubrac plateau.

Stevenson's Path

This route starts from Haute-Loire and crosses Lozère to reach Saint-Jean-du-Gard. A wild landscape of moors, heather, and rocks as far as the eye can see are the main attractions in this least densely populated region of France, with the highest average altitude.

Crossing the Jura

Crossing the Jura Massif very close to the Swiss border, this route is about 400 kilometers (248 miles) long. It's an uncrowded hike embellished with abundant nature. Its variety of landscapes between the forests of the Jura, the plateaus of the Doubs, and the ridge paths towards the Ain will surprise you.

Crossing the Vosges

This route covers the whole of Alsace in length from Wissembourg to Belfort. The Vosges are medium-sized mountains whose summits rarely exceed 1,000 meters (3280 ft), but the massif offers hikers a great diversity of landscapes and a superb view from the highest point of the Grand Ballon des Vosges (Great Belchen of the Vosges).

The mountains of Corsica

GR 20 crosses the Isle of Beauty from north to south, Calenzana to Conca, over a length of 180 kilometers (111 miles). A difficult route with significant elevation, it is especially recommended for experienced hikers. You will discover an incredible variety of landscapes, between thick forests, lakes, and rocks of all colors, while being able to visit the beach. A hiker's paradise!

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