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France is the ideal country for embarking on walks during your holiday. All regions offer plenty of walks. Whether you are staying in Aquitaine, Dordogne, Provence, Languedoc or Poitou-Charentes, there are well-marked hiking trails everywhere. Hiking is one of the most popular activities during a holiday in France. You can often start the walk from your holiday home. You can take a walk with your partner, your family or your friends. It is also possible to join a larger group that leaves at the local Office du Tourisme.
You can either take a walk you have mapped out yourself or use the routes planned out predominantly by the local “Office du Tourisme”, this makes walking easy ! These walks take you past the most beautiful places in the area. In addition to the local walking routes, there are also rural routes for long distance walks. In France there are more than 20,000 km of hiking trails. The types of walking routes, Promenade's and Randonnée's, have different symbols to identify them.
There are 3 or 4 levels of hiking in France that are each distinguished with different markers. These markings are stripes of a certain colour which can be found on trees, rocks and road signs:
For all walks the same direction rule applies. If you need to go to the right the stripes are drawn at an angle to the right, if you have to go left the stripes are drawn at an angle to the left!
Nordic walking is popular across the entire world, also in France. The Nordic Walkers can be found on every walking route. You might even see large groups doing these walks together! It is possible to rent Nordic Walking poles at your local Office du Tourisme.
A specific category in the walking tours are the wine walking tours, these are organized by the local Office du Tourisme. The wine châteaux themselves also organize walks through the extensive vineyards, which often end in the tasting “dégustation” of the wine estate. Along the way, you will learn all about viticulture and wine production.
The landscape of Provence is very diverse, there are many different types of walks around the area. The Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur is known for the beautiful coastline of the Mediterranean with famous locations such as Cannes and St. Tropez. Walking is outstanding there! A well-known route on the coast is the Nietsche path near the town of Eze. During the walk you will enjoy a magnificent view over the Mediterranean coast. In clear weather you can see Corsica and even Italy.
Inland there are beautiful lavender fields, hills and mountains of up to 4100 metres tall. Enjoy the scents and colours of the lavender. For the sports enthusiasts there are hiking trails through the mountains and the rock formations of the Gorges du Verdon.
Well-known routes are the GR4 from Provence to the Atlantic coast, the GR97 - Tour du Luberon, the GR 91 - Tour du Mont Ventoux and the GR99 at the Gorges du Verdon.
The Dordogne has over a thousand kilometres of walking routes, including the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella. There are in total more than 4,000 kilometres of shorter walking routes. These routes are often plotted from the center “Le Bourg” of a village. These Petites Randonnées or Circuits run through forests, open fields, vineyards, hills and valleys. At the starting point of the route, which is also the end point, there is usually a sign with a large map showing the various walking routes. Maps of the different walks can be found in the local Office du Tourisme.
The Languedoc is said to have everything that France has to offer: the coast, mountains, vineyards, beautiful landscapes, culture and history. All this can be visited and viewed on the many hiking trails that run through this department. On the coast you will find sandy beaches, but also cozy bays with rugged rocks. You will then need to hike a relatively large distance upwards. The same applies for hiking tours through the Pyrenees. There are hikes that go over a plateau, which are easy to walk. However, if you are really going to climb the mountains, you need good fitness, good equipment and in many cases a guide.
The vineyards are often on a slope. Hiking trails have been laid out through many vineyards that you can walk on. You can see up close how the grapes grow.
The Gironde offers many opportunities for hiking during the holidays. There are walking routes along the Atlantic coast, such as along the bay of Arcachon or at the famous Dune du Pilat. But you will find the most walking routes in the southern part of France which is covered in extensive forests. Here you can walk for hours and enjoy the beautiful nature and you can also encounter all types of wildlife here.
This region is fairly flat and somewhat hilly in some places. This ensures a fairly easy walking route but still lets you enjoy the beautiful area. It is mainly the extensive nature reserves that are popular with hikers, such as the Marais Poitevin area, a large wetland area. Vineyards can be found in the northern part of this department.