Hiking in France and Europe: Our Best Spots and Tips
A kilometre on foot is wearing, yet every year many people venture to some of the most beautiful sites in France and Europe for a hike. This sporting activity allows you to discover our beautiful nature and breathtaking landscapes.
We are lucky because France is full of incredible natural sites and a diversity of landscapes. From high mountains to the Mediterranean coast or majestic lakes, there is bound to be a place for you. And if you want to adventure outside of France, we can only recommend exploring Germany or Austria, known for their famous hiking spots.
With the expert advice of Loraine from the Travelofemotions blog, we will reveal the most beautiful hiking spots, but also the equipment to have and the best advice for beginners or even for experts.
First of all, a little presentation of Loraine is necessary. Daughter of the sea, she became in a few years a mountain girl by developing a new passion: hiking and exploring our world. A traveller and adventurer at heart, Loraine shares her travel stories, her best advice and her most beautiful photos on her blog and Instagram account.
Now living in Germany, in Bavaria, a place of excellence for hiking, she shares on her blog where to hike in Germany and Austria, but also in the French Pyrenees.
Reasons to hike
Walking is the best medicine for man, said Hippocrates, and we won’t argue with that. Visiting France while hiking is a fun activity to share with friends, children, or solo.
Here are the 5 reasons why we recommend hiking:
- You will discover new landscapes and enjoy the fauna and flora around you.
- You will have the pleasure of going to places that can only be reached on foot, which are therefore unique.
- The pride you will feel, because hiking is also about getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself mentally and physically.
- Sharing this moment with people who have the same passion for nature and the beauty of simple things.
- To clear your head and forget the worries of everyday life. In the middle of the Alps, the traditional dodo-metro-work is far behind you.
The best places in France to hike
Big and majestic, France is an ideal country for hiking. From easy to expert trails, sites in the north of the country or in Corsica, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Hiking in Northern France
Between dunes and cliffs, the North is a guaranteed success for a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air.
The GR21: 180 KM on the cliff paths, between Le Havre and Le Tréport. It takes 9 days to complete and takes you along the Normandy coastline. Thanks to this hike, you will discover cute villages like Veules-les-Roses.
The Mont des Cats: For Sunday sportsmen or adventure lovers, this is the Chti hike of Northern France. With an altitude of 164 metres, the Mont des Cats is the highest summit in the North. On the programme, three hours of walking and encounters with cows, horses, and sheep.
The most beautiful hikes in the South of France
The South of France is not only reserved for its beautiful beaches and the Mediterranean, many places are perfect for those who love walking.
The Verdon gorges: an emerald river and a canyon, here you are in the Verdon gorges in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Set off to discover the villages classified among the most beautiful in France, Castellane and Moustiers-Saint-Marie for a 60 km walk.
The GR20: The most famous hike known as one of the most difficult in Europe, the GR20 in Corsica is for the experienced. Starting from Vizzavona, you’ll take in a variety of landscapes with views of the mountains, the sea in the distance and deep blue lakes.
Hiking in Eastern France
Le Grand Brézouard in the Vosges: accessible to beginners, this hike allows you to discover the mountainous massif of the Vosges, but also many small unguarded refuges.
The Crest of Mont d’Or: famous for its cheese, but also for its hike in the Haut-Doubs. It offers an incredible panorama of the Mont Blanc massif.
The most beautiful hikes in Western France
The GR34: Also known as the Tour de la Bretagne, the route starts at Mont Saint-Michel and ends at Saint-Nazaire, about 2000 km of walking.
The Crozon peninsula will amaze you for a few days’ hike thanks to its rich and beautiful landscapes: a turquoise blue sea bordered by golden beaches and rocks. An idyllic setting for any traveller.
Where to hike in Europe?
If you want to combine travel outside France with hiking, we recommend Germany and Austria. Easily accessible by car, train or plane with Flightgift, these two beautiful countries offer many hikes.
Bavaria in Germany
Loraine‘s favourite region of turquoise water and mountains offers beautiful hiking spots.
For beginners: Loraine recommends The Eibsee lake, in a 1.5 hour walk you can admire the sublime turquoise lake with a breathtaking view of Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze. This is a tourist destination, so we recommend an early morning or evening visit.
For mountain lovers: The Alpspitze. About 7 hours of walking, you will have to hang on to the summit at 2628 m. If you get tired, take the cable car back down.
Tyrol in Austria
Wide open spaces, mountains, and lakes, the Tyrol region exceeds all our expectations.
Schlegeis Stausee: Located in South Tyrol is an incredible lake. Known as an Instagram spot, you’ll need an hour and a half walk to enjoy the breathtaking view from the bridge suspended in the void.
Lake Plansee is the second largest lake in Tyrol. It offers peace and serenity. With 13 km around the lake, this hike is accessible for all ages, ideal for those with children.
The right equipment for hiking
You don’t venture onto the beaten track without the right equipment. So here are the essentials to take when hiking:
- Good walking shoes.
- Walking sticks for steep ascents or descents.
- A backpack with a jumper, windbreaker and water.
- A small first aid kit in case of injury.
If the hike lasts several days, you can either sleep in hostels or camp. In this case, a tent, a sleeping bag and some provisions are essential.
5 tips for getting started hiking
Whether you are about to go hiking for a few hours or several days, here are the top 5 tips for hiking:
- Plan: find out about the route, its level of difficulty and how to get there. Also, look at the weather conditions. Thunderstorms set in very quickly in the mountains.
- Take a first aid kit: for your first walk, we recommend that you include bandages, disinfectant, sterile compresses, a pair of scissors, mosquito repellent and sun cream in your first aid kit.
- Hiking with others: for a first time hiker, it is best to go with your friend, partner, or family member.
- Choose your accommodation: you can opt for the comfort version in refuges or gites. Beware, these are quickly taken over, so it is advisable to book. Or be an adventurer and go on a bivouac. In this case, don’t look for your camping spot too late at night.
- Eat well: proteins for your muscles, carbohydrates for energy and dried fruit or energy bars for long hikes.
You now have all the cards in your hand to set off across France and Europe. Lace-up your shoes, grab a map and let’s go for the big adventure!