What are some of the best hikes in France?

What are some of the best hikes in France?

by Clara Avrillier

Updated November 7, 2022

So, you’re planning a visit to France and are wondering what activities to do during your holiday? Good news for hiking enthusiasts: France is split into 26 regions, many of which offer some of the best hikes in Europe. 

There are over 180,000 km of sentiers balisés (hiking trails) in the country so both beginner and experienced hikers will find something that works for them. Plus, hiking is such a common sport in France that most routes are well signposted, making it easy for you to pick up your walking shoes and go. Given the incredible number of hiking trails in the country, it wasn’t easy to narrow it down to only a few, but we’ve done it! Read on to learn all about our recommendations for the best hikes in France.

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Hiking in Nice: The Nietzsche Path

Distance: 2.1 km

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Best time to go: Spring/early summer 

If you’re looking for one of the best day hikes in France, then The Nietzsche Path is a great option. It’s a short hiking trail which runs from Èze-sur-Mer to the hilltop village of Èze, and is around a 30-minute drive from Nice. This gorgeous trail is named after the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who stayed in the village and was inspired to write many of his works. Although it is a short hike (2.1 km one way), there is 400 m of elevation and many stairs, so it’s definitely a challenge. However, you will be rewarded with magnificent views of the ancient village and the coastline. 

Hiking in Paris: The GR75 city trail

Distance: 50 km 

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Best time to go: Spring 

This is the first Grande Randonnée (GR) hike of the article, which is a network of long-distance footpaths in Europe. Many people may be surprised to hear that there are not only some of the best museums and castles in the capital but also hiking trails. The GR75 trail was created as part of the city’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games. It has been designed to offer an alternative view to Parisian life. This 50 km trail runs through nine arrondissements (districts), countless parks, and several historic sites, including sporting venues used in the 1900 and 1924 Olympic Games. The best time to do it is in spring when Paris is in full bloom and the weather is not too warm.

Hiking in Normandy: The GR21 coastal trail

Distance: 190 km

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Best time to go: Summer

In 2020, the GR21 trail was voted France’s favorite hiking trail! This star of a trail is one of the best GR routes in France, it runs along the coast in Normandy…and is a whopping 190 km long! Not for the faint-hearted, this walk provides stunning views of the Alabaster Coast and the cliffs of Etretat. Prepare yourself for days of breathtaking views, dramatic scenery and an all-round incredible hike. The beauty of this long hike is that it is fairly easy compared to other long-distance hikes, so it’s accessible to many people. With average summer temperatures sitting at around 20 °C, it is the perfect season for walking this long-distance trail.

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Hiking in Marseille: The Calanques

Distance: Various trails available 

Level of difficulty: Various 

Best time to go: January/February 

The Calanques is a mountain range lining the coast from Marseille to Cassis which is part of the Calanques National Park, a protected area since 2012. It offers a myriad of stunning hiking trails, from easy two/three km trails to more difficult trails with steep ascents. Regardless of which trail you choose, you will always be treated to the most incredible views of the park, the Mediterranean Sea and the beautiful mountain range itself. The best time to visit is in winter, as the trails are not too busy, but the warm weather of the south makes for a wonderful winter walk.

Hiking in Corsica: The grueling GR20 trail

Distance: 180 km

Level of difficulty: Advanced

Best time to go: June to September 

The GR20 is an incredible trail running from the north to the south of the island of Corsica, and it has been described as one of the best hikes in the world. It is important to note that this trail is for very experienced hikers, as on top of the distance, there is an incredible 12,000 meters of elevation. But as the saying goes, nothing worth doing is ever easy! If you opt for this hike, you will get a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you will have walked one of the toughest hikes in the world. We recommend researching this hike thoroughly and speaking with hiking experts to ensure your fitness levels are suitable.

On your way to France’s best hikes

All of these hiking trails showcase the best that France has to offer. The variety of trails means that everyone, from beginner to more experienced walkers, can experience the beauty and joy of hiking in France. So get your picnic ready (don’t forget the cheese!) and discover France’s best hikes!

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Clara Avrillier is a writer, linguist and content manager living in the South of France. She loves getting out in nature, doing sport, reading and playing music. She also works with expats looking to move to France. Connect with her on LinkedIn

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