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Experiences Walking and Trekking Walking in Europe Walking in France

Walking in France

It may be just a short hop across (or under) the English Channel, but France should certainly not be overlooked in favour of more distant lands when it comes to a walking and trekking holiday. A fantastic variety of terrain and scenery means that it has something to offer for all abilities and when you add French food and wine into the mix, it makes for truly memorable holiday destination.

The Pyrenees stretch from the Atlantic Coast to the Mediterranean and form a natural border between France and Spain, with the tiny country of Andorra sandwiched between the two. A walking holiday in the Pyrenees can offer the opportunity to experience cultural influences from both sides of the border. Known for their rugged peaks of limestone and granite the opportunities for walking and trekking are plentiful. It’s possible to trek from coast to coast through the whole range along the long-distance route known as the GR10. Staying mostly in gites and mountain refuges along the way, around 52 days are recommended to complete the full trail with many ascents and descents. Or for those looking for something a little less challenging, a centre-based trip taking day walks out into the surrounding mountains could make for your perfect walking holiday. Ax-Les-Thermes is just one possibility for such a base and being a spa town has the added bonus of bubbling thermal waters in which to recuperate after a hard day trekking in the mountains!

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Since 1995 the Alps, like the Pyrenees, has its own recognised long distance trail, the Via Alpina. Spanning approximately 5000 km it covers the whole range, starting from near Trieste in Slovenia then passing through Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Italy to end in France near Monaco. There are plenty of more manageable (!) holiday treks. You may wish to take up the challenge of a famous trail such as the Tour du Mont Blanc around the iconic Mont Blanc (4810m). Usually taking around eight days to walk, the majority of the trail is in France with a couple of days each in Switzerland and Italy. With a fantastic selection of way-marked and well-mapped trails, the French Alps offer endless permutations of trekking routes. There is also a huge variety of accommodation here for walkers to choose from ranging from the most basic mountain hut to pretty chalets, family-run guesthouses to swanky boutique hotels.

Part of France but distinctly different from the mainland is the island of Corsica. With shores lapped by the warm blue waters of the Mediterranean and a craggy mountainous interior it has long been a magnet for walkers and trekkers. The steep rocky terrain of the island provides a physical challenge but without the complexities of any serious altitude. Nevertheless, Corsica’s most famous trail, the GR20, is reputedly Europe’s toughest trek. The island’s coastal paths are a little easier on the legs and offer endless views of cliffs plunging down to the turquoise water below.

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