hiking french alps

Hiking trails in the French Alps

If you fancy a hiking challenge away from home, why not try your luck in the French Alps?

This mountain range extends throughout several countries of Central Europe, but the French side can take pride in having the highest mountain on the European continent, Mont Blanc, with its impressive 4810.06 m a. s. l.

So if you get tired of the rigors of summer, nothing better than visiting the French Alps to spend a few hours practicing trekking. That’s why, from Walkaholic, we present the most beautiful mountain hiking trails in the French Alps.

The Mont Blanc Tour (TMB)

Hiking in Mont Blanc, The French Alps
Tour De Mont Blanc / Photo by Richard -License (CC BY 2.0)

Of course, the Tour de Mont Blanc is one of the most famous routes of the mountain routes, not only from the French Alps, but from all over Europe. The best time to tour the TMB is from May to September, when the cold gives a break to walkers.

This route of more than 161 km and 10,366 meters of accumulated slope is the pinnacle of hiking in the Alps, which runs along the slopes of the impressive giant of Europe through France, Switzerland and Italy. These same trails serve as a tour to The North Face Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB), the most desired mountain test by professionals in this sport.

The route is circular and has 11 stages, and  it can be traveled with some variants. In itself it is a test only for experts and requires further study of the routes to be taken, but it would be unforgivable not to mention it.

Trekking through the Ecrins: high glacier route

Trekking in Ecrin, the French Alps
Trekking in Ecrin / Photo by Evim@ge , License (CC BY 2.0)

Not very well known, but not for that reason, the Ecrins National Park is one of the most well  preserved in the French Alps.

Here you will find several routes with the essence of mountain trekking: solitude and full enjoyment of the view of exceptional peaks and deep valleys.

One of the most beautiful and recommended is the GR54 circular route, which runs through the area of ​​Brinçon on its 180 km route with a slope of 11,500 m, marked every night by shelters and rural accommodation.

Among the peaks to visit include the Barre des Ecrins (4,008 m), La Meije (3983 m), Mont Pelvoux (3,943 m) and the rock climbing routes in the Aiguille Dibona, La Bérarde and Ailefroide.

L’Aiguille Du Midi (3842m) and Montenvers / Mer de Glace by train from Chamonix

Mer de Glace from Chamonix, hiking in the French Alps
Chamonix, The Alpes Franceses / Photo by Haideriqbal

This cannot be said to be a full-fledged hiking route, as the journey to be traveled on foot is very short. However, it is ideal to spend a family day and be marveled by the beauty of the French Alps.

This linear round trip is covered in 7 hours, counting the stops. It all begins in Chamonix, considered the capital of the Alps, which lives and breathes the history of the conquest of Mont Blanc in 1786 by Saussure and Balmat.

From here we take the highest cable car in Europe, which takes us to L’Aiguille du Midi, at more than 3800 m high, with a fascinating panorama of glaciers, high mountains, moraines, cracks and seracs.

After a short walk we take the Montenvers train to visit the Mer de Glace, a glacier tongue 7 km long and 200 meters deep. From here it is also easy to access the Ice Grotto, maybe a little too much conditioned for tourism, but worth seeing.

Then, we return to the Montenvers Train Station and from there to Chamonix by train, enjoying the views along the way.

Lac Vert from Servoz

Lac Vert, Green Lake in Spanish hiking trails through the French Alps
Lac Vert / Photo by Olive Titus, Licencia (CC BY 1.0)

This circular route of approximately 10 km can be covered in 3 hours, as it has a slope of only 490 meters. But the surprises you will find will last a lifetime in your memory.

The route begins in the town of Servoz, 816 meters above sea level and just at the entrance of the Chamonix valley. From here we take the Chemin du Mont until we find the ‘Chemin de la Vieille’ routes, which goes up to the lake.

The Lac Vert, Green Lake in English, really lives up to its name. It is not very large and it is worth going around, because the look is full of beauty contemplating its emerald waters. Then, you go back to the La Còte car park, bypassing ‘Chemin de la Vieille‘ route, to a track called Servoz Viejo and returning to our point of origin.

Tour of the Vanoise National Park

Hiking trails on Tour del Vanoise
Tour de LA Vanoise / Photo by Nicolas Vigier, Licencia (CC BY 1.0)

Being the first French natural park, this 1250 km² region (when combined with its Italian counterpart the Gran Paradiso National Park) has a lot to offer to the hiker.

Of course, the main attraction is the Tour de La Vanoise, a route to complete in 5 stages that runs from areas of large forests to semi-desert places and high mountain regions.

Thanks to it, you can discover beautiful mountains such as the Grande Casse (3,852 m), the Dome de L’Arpont (3599 m) or the Dome de Parraché (3697 m) with its ice cascades. The route links paths of GR 5 and GR 55, and it is not circular because it begins in Aussois and ends in Modane. It travels 84 kilometers in stretches ranging from easy to very difficult technical, which will test your skills as a hiker:

STAGE 1: Plan d’Amont to the Fond d’Aussois refuge. (90 min.)

STAGE 2: Fond d’Aussois refuge to the shelter La Vallette. (7 hours)

STAGE 3: La Vallette refuge to the Col Vanoise shelter. (7 hours)

STAGE 4: Col de la Vanoise refuge to the shelter of l’Arpont. (7 hours)

STAGE 5: Shelter from l’Arpont to Plan d’Amont. (6 hours)

Of course, these are just some of the many trekking options that you can explore in the French Alps. If your favorite one is not included, we encourage you to leave us a comment. Thus, the entire Walkaholic family can benefit from your experience.

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