We are a pair of ageing but energetic Australians, addicted to exploring France on foot. We have done this every year since 2002 in many different parts of France. To the despair of our family we keep thinking of new areas to explore, and no doubt will continue doing so until our legs crumble, or civilisation does, whichever comes first.
There are many companies offering so-called independent walking tours who provide route information, hotel bookings and transfer of bags between hotels. They are absurdly expensive and we consider them rigid and limiting. However we don’t completely knock them, as their brochures are a good source of ideas for our own itineraries.
It is not actually very difficult to organise your own expedition, although there are pitfalls.
We have written this website for our own pleasure, in a spirit of comradeship with our fellow walkers, and to spare others some of our more disastrous mistakes. We have no commercial motivation and so it is free of ads.
We hope it will be a useful guide for anyone contemplating a pedestrian tour in France, whether you call it hiking, rambling, trekking, tramping or just plain walking.
The beginners’ guide is a general introduction to walking in France, containing information and advice. To learn from our mistakes see our golden rules and to read our answers to common questions, see our FAQ page.
Our walks so far
The map below is of the 9,550 kms of walking we have so far done in France. To find out more about a particular walk, click on the line.
You can also see this map using Google Earth.
For a brief description and map of each of our walks, see diaries and maps. From our diaries, we have extracted what we think are the best short walks (from three to ten days), as well as other short, flat walks on canals and disused railways.
The Pilgrimages of Saint Jacques de Compostelle
Since mediaeval times, pilgrims have converged on the tomb of Jesus’ disciple Saint James (Saint Jacques in French, Santiago in Spanish) at Compostela in northern Spain. In English, these pilgrimages are collectively known as the Ways of Saint James, although the Spanish word Camino (path) is increasingly used.
They came from all directions, including through France, and all four of the main French routes have now been marked for present-day walkers. The most popular is the one starting from le Puy (commonly referred to in English as the Way of Saint James), which is the one that most people think of when planning a walking holiday in France.
For a brief outline of these four traditional routes and links to the diaries of our adventures on them, see pilgrim ways.
France has much more to offer the walker than just the pilgrim routes. Indeed the pilgrim routes, especially the Way of le Puy, have become almost too popular in recent years, and it is hard to get a feeling of freedom and autonomy while shuffling along in a queue.
There are over a hundred thousand kilometres of beautifully maintained tracks known as GRs (Grandes Randonnées) in other parts of the country, many of them traditional thoroughfares between villages from the days before motorised transport.
They pass through farmland, vineyards, hills, woods, forests and mountains – and there are always villages to provide accommodation and food along the way.
In the south there are many lovely walks amongst the vestiges of Roman occupation.
You will find the answers to many questions related to walking in France on our FAQ page.
If you would like to get in touch with us to ask another question, or to make a comment or point out a mistake, we would be very pleased to hear from you.
You can contact us, Jenny and Keith, at:
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Our next emails will be sent from France, when we are walking there this coming June and July.