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Why is France a hiking paradise ?

Updated on July 1, 2013

22 various regions to discover

As you certainly know France is one of the main touristic destinations in the world.

Millions of foreigners visit Paris each year but only a few of them venture further even if France possess real treasures everywhere within its 95 departments and 22 regions.

France-Provence Calanques
France-Provence Calanques

Patchwork of landscapes and things to see

France is known to be a small country with so many different landscapes.

Its geographic location with hundreds miles of coastline lining 3 different seas and Ocean, numerous mountainous massifs (Central Massif, Jura, Vosges, Alps, Pyrenees,... ), 3 main types of climate generate a great variety of vegetation and as many sceneries.

Many rivers lying deep in canyons (Verdon, Tarn, Ardeche are the most renown) or crossing large valleys (Rhone, Loire, Garonne..), running through green hills (Dordogne,Lot,Cele..) or rushing down mountains, meandering from hidden medieval villages to proud hilltop strongholds, wild forests, plateau, valleys and high peaks, sleepy charming hamlets in Perigord to picturesque fishing ports of Brittany or Roussillon, fine sandy beaches in Landes and Basque Country, and high limestone cliffs near Marseille,are some of the different types of landscapes that can be revealed to each traveller in France.

There are so many stunning landscapes enhanced with traditions and History everywhere: a rich culture carefully looked after through each property, house or castle considered as the witness of the past but also present in the famous "art de vivre" with unrivalled cooking in cafés and restaurants.

France-well marked hiking paths
France-well marked hiking paths

Walking in France

Regional traditions that French people are so proud to display and share! From Brittany to Provence or from Paris to Biarritz, thousands of well marked tranquil paths and an extraordinary quiet road network enable to walk or bike the country through wonderful unspoilt scenery. The small scale variety in landscape is a real invitation for walkers' pace since hiking reveals the diversity and enables to get in touch easier with the French people living for years in hidden villages.

Before launching to a walking tour, you'll have to learn how to find your way through the 40500 miles of GR (Great Hiking Ways), ways marked with red and white stripes, or red and yellow stripes for GR de pays (Great hiking local ways) which are even more local routes. These marks are painted on stone walls, rocks, or tree trunks and are precious indications in crossroads.

When you decide to walk in France and to discover this country that way, you have to be sure to know how to read a map and a compass, but you don't have to worry if you know which route you follow.:The French Hiking Federation looks after these well-known red and white stripes and after all the signposts which are a great help to find your way out.

In France, some GR are very famous as GR10 (crossing the Pyrenees) or GR20 (crossing Corsica) since they are quite tough and need to be fit and trained. Another well-known hiking trail for a thousand years is GR65 which follows one of the many routes for walking the Way of Saint James from le Puy-en-Velay to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and walked by « pilgrims ».

For more information about walking tours in France (Provence, Way of St James, Camino, Pyrenees...), feel free to ask : icietlanature.com

Hiking the Pyrenees

Walking the Pyrenees - France
Walking the Pyrenees - France

Peak of Midi d'Ossau (Pyrenees - France)

France guidebooks

One Hundred and One Beautiful Towns in France: Food & Wine (101 Beautiful Small Towns)
One Hundred and One Beautiful Towns in France: Food & Wine (101 Beautiful Small Towns)

Beautiful towns and villages of France (nice pictures and good information about the towns)

 
Camino de Santiago: A Guide to Walking the Camino Francés
Camino de Santiago: A Guide to Walking the Camino Francés

A guidebook about the French part of the Way of St James

 
Walking in the Dordogne (Mediterranean walking series)
Walking in the Dordogne (Mediterranean walking series)

A guidebook about hamlets and castles of Dordogne

 

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