Hiking in France

Pack the walking gear into your car and head to France on one of our ferries bound for Calais, Dieppe or Dunkirk. You can also sail from Newcastle to Amsterdam and from there drive 185 miles south to France. Countless fantastic hiking adventures are await you.

France is home to twenty million self-confessed hiking enthusiasts. And, with over 120,000 miles of trail criss-crossing the country, it’s easy to see why. So if you want to experience the delights of hiking in France, you’ll be in numerous and fine company, especially given French hikers’ reputation for being friendly and sociable.

Header image credit: Atout France/Joºl Damase

Gear and clothing

Gear and clothing

Walking in France is very safe, and although the climate can be changeable and temperatures low in winter, for the most part you’ll only need the same kit you use in UK – unless you’re planning to climb an Alp or two!

Take hiking boots, waterproofs, trekking poles and a mobile phone, and don't forget your sunglasses, sunscreen, and lip protection. From the months of June to August shorts are probably sufficient.

As with any hiking expedition, always carry drinking water and make sure to check the weather forecast ahead of time.

Image credit: Atout France/Robert Palomba

Popular hiking areas in France​

Forests of Fontainebleau

Forests of Fontainebleau

With dramatically scattered boulders, enchanted lakes, colourful flora and numerous fauna, the Forests of Fontainebleau are the perfect location for hiking holidaymakers.

Just 4 hours’ drive from Calais, or 40 minutes by train from the Gare de Lyon if you’re staying in Paris, Fontainebleau provides a landscape like no other.

Plus, as part of your visit, you can take in the impressive Château de Fontainebleau. With over 1,500 rooms and set in 130 acres of parkland, the château is the equal of any other found in France.

Image credit: Photographer: Radu Razvan

Northern Vosges Regional Nature Park

Northern Vosges Regional Nature Park

Found in the regions of Alsace and Lorraine, the Northern Vosges Regional Nature Park is a protected area comprising dense woodland, majestic wetland, traditional farmsteads and impressive historic sites.

This stunning landscape is only a 5-hour drive from our Dunkirk port, and provides thousands of hikers every year with access to around 322,000 acres of unspoilt natural habitat. No wonder it has been added to the UNESCO list of international biosphere reserves.

Image credit: Atout France/Pierre Torset

Chamonix Valley

Chamonix Valley

The iconic Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps and the Chamonix Valley wraps around the base of this mountain in breath-taking style.

Seated at the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy, the Chamonix Valley is some of the most beautiful walking country in Europe, with vast pine and spruce forests, glistening glaciers and awe-inspiring rocky peaks.

Image credit: Maarjaara​

Dordogne

Dordogne

Its trail system is a staggering 110,000 miles long, which might seem overwhelming to the uninitiated, but the Dordogne provides a flowing compass to lead you on your way.

Following the river, you'll discover quaint farmsteads, chateaux and castles. You'll have chances to sample exquisite cuisine, such as local specialities like strawberries and truffles, and to visit stunning villages like Beynac, which is perched on a limestone crag and still considered one of the most beautiful villages in all of France.

Image credit: FreeArtist

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