Exploring France’s Natural Beauty on Foot

Mont BlancIf you are looking to combine magnificent food, fabulous wine, stunning and varied scenery and some excellent walking, then France simply has to feature on your list of possible holiday destinations. France has long been a favourite holiday destination for many people in the UK and Europe and recent analysis from the World Bank shows that the country is – by some distance – the most visited in the world.

As said, France has a wealth of attractions and so it is no surprise that 80 million people choose to visit annually. Marseille is the 2013 European Capital of Culture and with other dazzling cities such as the inimitable Paris, with its effortless style, cafe culture and wealth of art, culture and architecture, and quirky Lille (which was the Capital of Culture in 2004), France has plenty to offer those in search of a city break.

Amboise Chateaux, Loire ValleyHowever, for many people a trip to France is about escaping the city and seeing the countryside. France is the fourth largest country in Europe and with that size comes a wonderful array of natural beauty, from the magnificent coastal trails of Brittany’s Emerald Coast to the Alpine splendour of the Mont Blanc Valley or the purple-streaked lavender fields of Provence to the verdant green valleys of the Loire Valley.

Walking holidays in France can be tailored to suit all interests and all physical abilities and that is why exploring the great outdoors in France is such an enjoyable experience. The aforementioned Emerald Coast is an excellent option for hiking novices, with the relatively flat coastal trails also very well-suited to families.

Emerald Coast, BrittanyThe fact that Brittany is so easy to access from the UK adds to the appeal of such a holiday, whilst budding historians can visit some of the nearby D-Day landings beaches in an attempt to gain just a glimpse of what it might have been like all those years ago. With friendly Breton towns, coves and fishing ports to break up the journey – and which provide plenty of opportunities to sample the magnificent local seafood – there really is something for everyone in this part of France.

Moving south and into the interior the Loire Valley is another great option for a walking holiday in France. The fertile areas around the river and its tributaries provide much of the great produce that helps make French food among the best in the world, whilst the architectural magnificence of many of the region’s chateaux will astound. The royal buildings at Amboise and Blois are particularly beautiful, although it feels unfair to single any in particular out, such is the overall splendour. The manicured grounds of many of these chateaux are attractions in their own right and it is easy to pass a lazy afternoon enjoying the lawns and waterfalls and perfectly manicured vegetable gardens.

ProvenceWalking in this area provides a wilder look at nature, though it is no less impressive for that. You will take in shaded forests, fields of poppies and other flowers and, of course, pass through and alongside the many vineyards that will provide your evening reward for the days of walking.

With the Alsace, Provence, Chablis and Dordogne just some of the other fine alternatives it really is no surprise that France is the first choice of so many tourists from all over the world. Great food and wine come as standard almost everywhere, with history, culture, dazzling scenery and varied wildlife equally assured in many of France’s most popular areas. With over 2,000 miles of coastline, whether it be the rugged north or the sunny south and truly awe-inspiring mountainous options in both the Pyrennees and the Alps, if you haven’t booked your French adventure yet, maybe now is the time?

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