The Belle France guide to trekking
My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing - Aldous Huxley
It’s true that a good walk can be good for the soul. Especially if that walk takes in some incredible scenery in the French mountains, for example.
For those with lots of experience walking and trekking, then this blog is for you.
So if you think that a challenging Belle France walking holiday ticks all the boxes for you, what can you expect from our most difficult routes?
You’ll be walking between 6-8 hours a day, distances of up to 25 miles. These walks tend to involve some change in altitude, which can be up to 1000 metres, so definitely not one for the faint hearted (or headed!) You will need a good head for heights, and should have good map-reading skills. Because of the remote locality of some of these routes, there will be some occasional nights in more basic accommodation.
But this is coupled with the amazing sense of achievement that comes with walking these routes, some of which have been open for centuries. A truly incredible way to experience France from a different perspective.
Still interested? Read on for details and recommendations for our Belle France treks and see which one takes your fancy.
Following in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson
In 1878, Robert Louis Stevenson published ‘Travels with a Donkey’, an account of a journey accompanied by his donkey Modestine. Now you can follow some of that route, with the route starting in Le Puy at the southern end of the Massif Central, and trekking along the Cevennes. You’ll see extinct volcanoes, a Romanesque chapel perched 80 metres high on a pinnacle of rock, wooded valleys, cinder paths and vast plains. A wonderful experience.
This route takes you along the foothills of the Pyrenees past some of the most amazing medieval castles of the Languedoc region. You’ll walk through medieval villages, and the landscape will change from rugged outcrops to beautiful summer meadows and even through a chestnut forest. Your route will end in Carcassonne, a stunning and well-recognised landscape. A challenging route, but definitely worth the trek!
Pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compestela
Follow in the footsteps of many pilgrims on their way to the Santiago de Compestela in Spain. This route covers many miles each day, up to 25 miles, so it’s advisable to have some sturdy walking boots!
You’ll travel through the pretty riverside town of Aire sur l’Adour where you can see the cathedral of Saint-Jean Baptiste, experience some stunning views of the Pyrenees, as well as visiting ancient châteaux and fortified towns.
Although the routes are challenging, the scenery is magnificent and well worth any blisters you may pick up along the way. These routes are just a selection of what we have on offer, and we are proud to say we’ve trekked all of them. So if you want to get an idea of which route you fancy travelling through, then do get in touch, we can let you know what to experience, as we’ve been there ourselves. It’s a great way to see some lesser visited parts of France, and meet and stay with some wonderful hosts at the various hotels on the way. Either call us on +44 (0)1580 849 113 or email us to get to know more.
10 Related Holidays
Stevenson Trail - Stage 1
In the footsteps of one man and his donkey
In 1878, Robert Louis Stevenson published 'Travels with a Donkey', an account of his intriguing journey accompanied by his donkey, Modestine. Starting at the southern end of the Massif Central, this walk takes you across the Cevennes...
Stevenson Trail - Stage 2
Follow in Robert Louis Stevenson's footsteps across the wild Auvergne
This section of the walk, taken by Stevenson and Modestine, passes through ever-changing landscapes of lush woodlands, plunging valleys and boulder-strewn plains. A must for literature lovers and those with a sense of adventure.
Cathar Castles - Stage 1
Trek of the Cathar Castles from Tuchan-Quéribus to Quillan
Trek through the foothills of the Pyrenees past ancient Cathar Castles, through beautiful and changing landscapes from craggy rocks to lush green meadows. You’ll stay half-board in friendly chambre d’hôtes and small hotels where you’ll...
Cathar Castles - Stage 2
Continue from Quillan to Foix via Montségur
Discover the unique history, wonderful food and elegant wine of this fascinating region, with its lush meadows, vineyards, and distant snow-capped peaks. Follow ancient trails to the precariously perched ruins of Cathar castles, and stay in...
Compostela - Le Puy to Nasbinals - Stage 1
Hidden hamlets, ancient churches and magnificent mountains
This classic walk follows in the footsteps of pilgrims often making use of the GR65 footpath. Starting in the Massif Central, heading through the vineyards of south west France and finishing in the sunny foothills of the Pyrenees. The horizons are...
Compostela - Nasbinals to Conques - Stage 2
Breathtaking, panoramic views as you cross the causses
This delightful scenic walk with stunning views takes you from the ancient town of Nasbinals in the heights of the Massif Central, through the Lot Valley to the beautiful basilica in the historic village of Conques.
Compostela - Conques to Cahors - Stage 3
Classic walk following in the footsteps of pilgrims
A moderate walk from the ancient town of Conques, via country tracks to discover woods, forests, watermills and burial grounds and finishing in Cahors.
Compostela - Cahors to Lectoure - Stage 4
Spend some time exploring this important stop on the pilgrims' trail
Set off from the fascinating town of Cahors, heading from the Lot into more rolling landscape of the Tarn et Garonne. A couple of opportunites to take a more strenuous detour which will be rewarded with splendid vistas.
Compostela - Lectoure to Aire sur l'Adour - Stage 5
There's much to see in d'Artagnan country!
The landscape on this section is wide and open with views that stretch far ahead to your destination. Enjoy a detour to Eglise-hospital Sainte-Christie, for its peace and tranquillity.
Compostela - Aire sur l'Adour to the Pyrenees - Stage 6
Breathtaking views to conclude the journey
One of the most challenging stages because of the distances covered, but the most rewarding. An exhilarating walk through some amazing scenery, and in Hiribiria a monument marks the spot where the pilgrims' routes from Paris, Vezelay and Le Puy...