Fantastic hiking trails wind their way up and around the mountains near the Mont Blanc and criss-cross the national parks. The long-distance GR5 traverses the entire French Alps.
French Alps Hiking and Multi-Day Trekking
The Tour du Mont Blanc, or TMB for those in the know, is undoubtedly the most famous multi-day trek in the Alps. As the name implies, this is high altitude walking around Europe’s highest mountain. You hike a total distance of 170 km and cover more than 10,000 m of vertical drop. See the majestic Mont Blanc from every angle and be rewarded with an ever changing mountain landscape with stunning views over Alpine peaks, glaciers, valleys and meadows. The Tour du Mont Blanc should be on every serious walker’s hit list.
Hiking the Haute Route – Chamonix to Zermatt
The Haute Route is a classic long distance Alpine trek and one that should be on every serious walker’s bucket list. Grab your crampons and ropes and spend a week crossing glaciers and high altitude cols from Chamonix to Zermatt. You’ll immerse yourself in big mountain terrain and hike from refuge to refuge, including the Bertol Hut which overlooks the Bertol Pass, south of Arolla. The Haute Route was pioneered in 1924 and you’ll trek among 4000 m peaks in the footsteps of the early Alpine explorers. This isn’t a technically difficult trek, but you do need to be physically fit and able to complete long days on steep terrain.
Hiking the Mer de Glace – Mont Blanc Massif
In the heart of the Mont Blanc Massif, the Mer de Glace stretches from Chamonix’s granite needles to the Aiguille Verte and the Grandes Jorasses range on the boundary between Haute-Savoie in France and Aosta Valley in Italy. This 3-day hut-to-hut hike is a great introduction to high Alpine trekking and you’ll find the terrain underfoot changing from rock to ice to snow. The physical geography of the glacier and the surrounding mountains is fascinating and a highlight is a stay in the Refuge du Couvercle which occupies one of the most spectacular locations in the Mont Blanc area.
The Parc National des Ecrins is France’s largest and highest National Park. With jagged peaks, tumbling glaciers, cascading rivers and steep-sided valleys, the Massif des Ecrins is one of the most challenging of alpine environments for walkers. The GR54 long-distance trail carves a circular route through these mountains and is considered to be one of the toughest multi-day treks in Europe. This 176 km trek takes covers 12,800 m of vertical ascent over 14 cols. French Alps Trekking do the full circuit over 10 days, or they offer a shorter 6-day trek covering 100 km in the southern section of the National Park.
Grande Traversée des Alpes
Starting in the Ecrins National Park this trek covers 200 km taking in the best of the Ecrins, Queyras and Mercantour parks. This is a strenuous trek with many days covering over 20 km and with 1300 m ascents. Most people need at least 12 days to complete the walk. Setting off from La Grave, you head south through the Cerces, Queyras and Mercantour regional parks. The route follows a network of Grande Randonnée (GR) trails taking in some of the Alps most spectacular scenery. Finally, you’re treated to a magnificent view of the Med before dropping down to the Côte d’Azur for a well-earned swim. French Alps Trekking run a fully guided trip from June to September.