FRANCE

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France, sometimes referred to as the hexagon due to its shape, is the largest country in terms of area in the EU. It is bordered by several countries including Belgium, Italy and Spain and has coasts with the English Channel (Le Manche), the Mediterranean and Atlantic ocean.

France is an extremely rich and varied country in terms of culture, history, gastronomy and landscape. The different Regions of France retain their strong individual identity, with distinctive cuisine, architecture, accents and customs. This is one of the reasons why France is a very popular holiday destination. Indeed, France is the most visited country in the world by foreign tourists, with many visiting Paris, the côte d'Azur and the Alps. It also has a large ex-pat community amoung the British, in part due to the rural French way of life.

France’s landscapes also vary enormously. There are large coastal plains or low lands in the north and west, and a number of mountain ranges- the Alps in the south east from the Swiss border going south to Nice with Mont Blanc being the highest point in western Europe. The south west border of France with Spain is marked by the Pyrenees, whilst the Massif Central (a region as large as Scotland) makes up a central southern upland region of old granite plateaux and young volcanoes.

Our walking and cycling holidays encompass a number of these remarkable regions, ranging from the snow-capped French Alps in the Vanoise to the hills, plateaux and gorges of the Tarn in south west France, and from the vineyards and hills of the Beaujolais to the green valleys and rugged mountains of the Auvergne. Each holiday is an exploration of the area's landscape as well as its traditions, in short what makes it special.

France lies in a northern temperate zone influenced by the gulf stream. The north and west of France is influenced by temperate oceanic conditions and tends to be wetter than further east. The east of France is influenced by continental conditions giving it hotter summers and colder winters than further west. The south of France is influenced by a mediteranean climate which tends to be much drier and sunnier than further north. The mountains such as the Alps can vary these generalisations and produce colder alpine conditions. The Alps also vary weather patterns locally and produce other climatic conditions such as the Mistral - a northerly wind that blows strong in the Rhone Valley.

France is an agricultural country with much of its large rural areas devoted to growing cereals, especially in the north. Other regions contain a greater variety of crops with fruit trees, pasture, lavender in Provence, and of course a number of wine producing regions to produce the world famous French wines. 17% of France is covered in Forest and woodland. Rural areas in France suffered from an exodus of population from the 1960's onwards. In many areas this decline has been halted with the desire to find a rural dream and with the increase in activity based tourism .

France has a very efficient transport system which enables quick and efficient travel across the country. The high speed rail network (TGV) enables rapid travel between many of the French cities. For example it takes 2 hours to travel the 450km between Paris and Lyon.

Our holidays explore relatively quiet unspoilt areas where you can enjoy a distinct local experience. Many of the rural areas are regional parks or National Parks. Wherever you go, our small guest houses, principally B&B style accommodation in historic properties offer a warm, generous welcome and delicious cuisine with distinctive regional flavours, accompanied by fine local wine. Often, you'll get to enjoy your meals with your hosts and other guests allowing you to find out more about the local way of life

Guest house Ardeche mountains France

Traditional Auvergne dish

independent walking holiday Alsace, France

walking in Cantal mountains of rural France

Baronnies in Provence French guided walking

baking bread - real French experience

Beaujolais French wine on walking holiday

Lavender in French Provence for walking tour


 

BEAUJOLAIS & BURGUNDY

 

Beaujolais

Our holidays in the Beaujolais explore not only the famous vineyards but also the little known regions of great beauty that lie beyond. Rolling hills and historic villages are in perfect harmony in this quiet area off the beaten track.

vintage Beaujolais independent walking holiday

Burgundy

The southern Burgundy is a treasure of historic chateaux, villages, and of course romanesque churches set in rolling countryside carpeted with vines and forests. A number of rocky outcrops punctuate the vineyards such as the celebrated “roche de Solutré” important for its pre-historic human activity.

Pierreclos southern Burgundy independent walking holiday

MASSIF CENTRAL

 

Northern Auvergne

Discover the contrasting volcanic regions of the northern Auvergne in central France. The landscape varies from rugged peaks to open moorland and perfect volcanic cones in the Puy de Dome. Dramatic waterfalls, varied lakes and pretty historic villages with fine roman churches all form part of this rich upland area.

Puy de dome Auvergne France

Cantal

The Cantal massif in the southern Auvergne which is the extinct remains of a huge volcano. Erosion has since created a series of rugged ridges, rocky peaks and green valleys of stunning beauty. Exciting walking in an untamed landscape with rich wildlife.

 

Cantal Mountains Auvergne France guided walking holiday

Dordogne

Cycling and walking holidays in historic Dordogne where a host of remarkable medieval villages and chateaux line the Dordogne valley surrounded by pretty unspoilt countryside.

Dordogne

Haute Loire

Our holiday explores an upland plateau landscape in the southern Auvergne punctuated with intimate valleys and volcanic domes (sucs). You'll stay in small B&B style historic properties often located in small forgotten hamlets of sturdy stone and thatched houses. This is a real away from it all experience in 'France Profonde'.

 

Haute Loire independent walking holiday

Lot

Our self guided walking holiday takes a linear trail along the beautiful Cele and Lot Valleys from Figeac to Cahors through unspoilt countryside with rocky cliffs and pretty villages

Lot Valley walking

Ardeche

Self-guided walking tour to discover the best of the Ardeche including beautiful villages clinging to terraced slopes in deep valleys and rugged ridges with wondeful panoramic views.

Gerbier du Jonc Ardeche France

Tarn

Explore medieval hilltop towns and the three rivers, the Tarn, Aveyron and Viaur that cut through the landscape giving it a distinctive character of deep rocky gorges, steep wooded valleys and high sunny plateaux. The Aveyron to the east has deeper gorges and limestone plateaux. To the south east, the Sidobre is the largest granite plateau in Europe, whilst the Black Mountains form the south western edge of the Massif Central.

 

Tarn and Aveyron south west France

EASTERN FRANCE

 

Jura

The Jura in eastern France passes from lowland gorges, waterfalls and historic villages of its famous wine region, to upland meadows, lakes and ridges of the Haut Jura. Our holiday explores both of these distinct regions

Chateau chalon Jura France guided walking holiday

Alsace

Our holiday explores the famous Alsace vineyards and the Vosges hills in eastern France. As well as their vintage wines the area features some remarkable chateaux and pretty unspoilt villages, their cobbled alleyways lined with typical Alsace houses. The Vosges offer panoramic views over their rounded summits.

Alsace vineyards and vosges independent walking holiday

PROVENCE & MEDITERRANEAN

 

Baronnies (Provence)

Our guided holiday explores this quiet unspoilt region where the Provence meet the Alps at a time when the lavender is in flower, whilst our independent tour is an ideal spring and autumn break. Wonderful perched villages, beautiful landscapes bathed in an amazing light, great climate.

Baronnies Provence France guided walking holiday

Drome Provencale

Our self guided walking holiday traverses the Drome Provencale though lavender, vines, forest and olive groves, going from one perched historic village to the next. A beautiful and relatively quiet region between the Alps and Provence.

Drome independent walking

Rhone Valley (Cotes du Rhone)

Our Cotes du Rhone Wine Trails in Provence explores the eastern side of the Rhone Valley from the Baronnies Regional Park in the north, to the slopes of the impressive rock spires of Dentelles de Montmirail in the south, passing by the foothills of Mont Ventoux.

cote du rhone provence wine trails

Calanques (Mediterranean Coast)

The Calanques on the Mediterranean coast offers a truly unique landscape of fjords where deep valleys have been drowned by the clear blue sea. The rugged and tormented cliffs gleam white rising high above the sea forming a stunning and dramatic coastline. Port Pin and Port-Miou are amazing places where you can bathe in the clear waters providing wonderful moments of relaxation and the chance to gaze at the wonderful coastline.

Mediterranean coastal walking holiday

Cote d'Azur (Mediterranean Coast)

Delightful trails through magnificent perched villages such as the picturesque Castellar and Saint Agnes with great panoramic views across rugged headlands with the Mediterranean Sea glittering below. Forms part of our Alps to Med Trail.

mediterranean coast walking holidays France

Pyrenees - Mediterranean Coast

This beautiful Catalan coast has for backdrop the mighty Pyrenees mountains on one side and the blue Mediterranean Sea on the other. Small historic fishing ports made from white-washed houses nestle at the base of green hills covered in vines, orange groves and forest. Secluded rocky bays nestle beneath picturesque headlands which offer great views across the clear blue sea.

mediterranean self guided walking holiday pyrenees

Luberon (Provence)

Classic Provence landscapes of the Luberon area in southern France. Delightful day walks discovering not only those "must-see" sights such as the Beautiful perched village of Gordes or the dazzling rich ocre coloured cliffs at Rustrel, but also some less trodden trails taking you into hidden corners.

lourmarin luberon walking Provence France

THE PYRENEES

 

Azun Valley, Pyrenees

The Azun Valley is in the central Pyrenees mountains in France south of Lourdes. Your self-guided walk takes you up onto the sides of this delightful and luminous valley where you’ll marvel at the wonderful panoramas and the well preserved mountain villages. As the week progresses you’ll enter the stunning Pyrenees National Park with jagged mountains and pristine lakes.

Azun Valley walking

Cerdagne, Pyrenees

The Cerdagne is a picturesque plateau, lying at 6000 ft up in the French Pyrenees. It is a delectable landscape scoured and shaped by Ice Age glaciers leaving behind deep ravines, rocky knolls and an array of beautiful mountain lakes, surrounded by imposing mountains. An enjoyable mixture of good walks, relaxing in natural hot pools and soaking up the sun in clear mountain air.

cerdagne lakes mountains in pyrenees walking holiday France

Western Pyrenees National Park

A wonderful trek crossing the Western Pyrenees National Park with series of must-see sites such as the highest waterfall in Europe at Gavarnie Cirque. The stunning high mountains of the Pyrenees National Park are peppered with beautiful lakes, rich green forests and mountain pastures which you’ll discover with a light rucksack, as your bags are transported for you.

Azun Valley walking

THE ALPS

 

Queyras

A spectacular undiscovered alpine region of rich contrasts. Deep gorges, alpine meadows, rocky deserts and rugged mountain ridges and peaks. Accessible high cols and summits, and a sunny climate makes this an ideal destination for a guided and independent walking holidays.

Queyras French Alps

Vanoise

An unspoilt wilderness with souring alpine peaks rising majestically above remote valleys. The Vanoise National Park is an ideal destination for discovering the amazing beauty and diversity of the Alps. A rich flora and fauna, beautiful peaks, stunning glaciers and some dramatic walks are all found in this corner of the Alps

Vanoise Alps France guided walking holiday

Ecrins

A region of high, rugged Alpine peaks covered in glaciers in the heart of the French Alps. Balcony trail through alpine meadows and past high altitude lakes with stunning views of the Ecrins mountains which reach over 4000m.

ecrins mountains french alps

Vercors

A magical place where gleaming rock faces meet wild and desolate plateaux. Natural wonders abound in this often overlooked corner of the Alps with a rich flora and fauna.

Mont Aiguille Vercors Alps France

Ubaye

Discover the Grand Tour of the Ubaye, a circular walking trail through a hidden corner of the French Alps taking in the Ubaye Valley, Upper Verdon Valley and the Mercantour National Park, with beautiful alpine summits, serene mountain lakes, nature reseves and traditional alpine hamlets.

Mont Aiguille Vercors Alps France

Mercantour

Acclaimed for being one of the wildest and most unspoilt parts of the French Alps, Mercantour has a contrasting range of landscapes, this National Park includes the Valléé des Merveilles with its thousands of pre-historic engravings.

mercantour walking holidays in French Alps

Traverse of French Alps along GR 5

This is a mythical walk which follows the GR 5 long-distance trail from the shores of Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean coast at Nice, following the entire length of the French Alps. We have split the walk into several self-guided walking holidays, although it would be possible to combine them together. You can choose whether to include luggage transfers.

mercantour walking holidays in French Alps

BRITTANY

 

Emerald Coast

The Emerald coast is home to some of Brittany’s most impressive coastlines, with dramatic rocky headlands jutting into the sea, enclosing picturesque coves of beautiful golden sand. Each day’s walk changes character from the opulent villas of Dinard and the fabulous historic walled town of St Malo to the wild heathland and stunning 70m cliffs of the Frehel Peninsula.

cap frehel emerald coast walking holiday

Lyon

Tailor-made, flexible independent walking, staying in hotel of your choice in the heart of the world heritage city. Roman ampitheatres, medieval quarter, renaissance town. Gastronomic capital of France. Choice of walks and plenty of occassion to relax.

Lyon world heritage city

See our full list of destinations

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