The French Alps have the well-earned reputation of being one of the best hiking destinations in Europe, with accessible and well marked trails, panoramic views and soaring peaks. Whether it’s walking through high wildflower meadows or alpages in the sun, or climbing a challenging col (mountain pass) the French Alps have something for all levels of walkers. Here are our 3 best hiking holidays in Europe for 2023, in our favourite areas of our own region of the French Alps.
Best hiking holidays 2023: the Alpine gr5
The GR5 is one of the “Grandes Randonnées“, a network of long distance walking trails in Europe. The GR5 is over 2000km long (1423 miles) and winds its way from the Netherlands all the way to the sparkling Mediterranean at Nice on the French Riviera. The Alpine portion of this trail, known also as the GTA or “Grande Traversée Alpine” begins on the banks of Lake Leman, and crosses the French Alps from the Mont Blanc region, through the Beaufortain, Vanoise & Thabor before meeting Briançon and descending the Southern French Alps & Alpes Maritimes to the sea.
The Alpine GR5 is the most scenic and spectacular section of the GR5 hiking trail, and many walkers decide to do only this portion. It is a multi-day walk, with accommodation in Alpine mountain refuges at times; despite its length it’s a walk that remains accessible to any active walkers. No mountaineering is necessary and is an ideal way to discover multi-day trekking holidays.
Our guided hiking holidays will take you from the fortified town of Briançon at the gateway to Italy, through the isolated beauty of the “Vallée Etroite” or Narrow Valley, and all the way to the Mont Blanc over 9 days. We’ve chosen accommodation in a mixture of mountain huts and comfortable, family owned chalet hotels, so you can get the mountain experience but also avail of the comfort of a hotel room on alternating nights! Luggage is transferred from hotel to hotel so you can travel with only your small rucksack, simplifying your logistics while staying in the spirit of a multi day mountain trek.
Best hiking holidays 2023 : the Tour du mont Blanc
One of the best and most popular mountain hiking holidays in Europe (and even the world) the Tour du Mont Blanc needs little introduction at this stage. This 170km (105m) walking trail circles the whole Mont Blanc Massif, under the 4807m (15,773ft) highest peak in Europe. A challenging walk with nearly 10,000m of ascent and descent, and walking through 3 countries (France, Italy & Switzerland) it is best a hike best suited to active walkers with a good level of fitness. As with the Alpine GR5, it remains accessible as no mountaineering experience is necessary.
The Mont Blanc circuit is unique as a European walking route in that it exists in a number of different adaptations and guises ; it can be done clockwise or anti-clockwise and the details of the itinerary can be fine tuned by the guide depending on the group to give a totally personalised experience. Our trip begins in the iconic mountain village of Chamonix in the French Alps on the Swiss border, and crosses directly into Switzerland, continuing on to Italy via the Trient Glacier , the Col du Ferret and Pre du Bar Glacier. Continuing on to Courmayeur via the Southern face of Mont Blanc, we return to France and the Ville des Glaciers & Tarantaise valley, before finishing up in Val Montjoie & les Contamines.
For private groups of 4 and more, an extension to the Mont Blanc Tour is also possible with our Alpine GR5 trip over 2+ weeks, for an unforgettable experience of the mountains!
Best hiking holidays 2023: Walking the Queyras
Between the Durance Valley and Italy, the isolated and protected Queyras Natural Park is a jewel in the southern French Alps, and the ideal spot for unique and off the beaten track mountain walking holidays in Europe. The tour du Queyras is another hiking trail on the “Grande Randonnée” network, a 110-km route in mid mountains in the Hautes-Alpes (high Alps) department, near the border with Italy.
Taking in parts of the tour, our Queyras walking holiday is based in the beautiful Alpine village of St Véran, and is perfect for newcomers to Alpine hiking, but also has plenty of options for seasoned and experienced hikers. It also neighbours the GR5 route, and our Alpine GR5 trip can be done as an extension to this trip for private groups of 4+ that wish to spend a longer period in the mountains.
As with the other grand tour holidays, accommodation is in a mixture of chalet hotels and mountain huts, so you get the best of both worlds!
The Queyras is a unique region, being one of the oldest mountain habitats in the Alps and one of the last to be opened to tourism, so the mountain environment remains unspoilt and protected.
Hiking Holidays in Europe - French Alps
More from our blog
Walking Holidays Spain : our 3 best destinations for 2023
For walking holidays Spain is fast becoming a destination of choice – and with reason! [...]
All you need to know to climb Mont Blanc in 2023
What better challenge for the experienced hiker than to climb Mont Blanc in 2023? At [...]
Our 3 best 2023 cycling holidays
Best 2023 cycling holidays : Custom road cycling holidays for individuals, cycling clubs or groups [...]
France Outdoors on Responsible Travel
The fortifications of Briançon in the French Alps