day hike southern france

Can anyone reccommend the best day hikes in the South of France? We're just begnning to plan our trip and will base our stays depending on where the best hiking is.
Thank you!

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1156 posts

France is a fabulous hiking destination. There a huge network of trails developed and maintained throughout France - many following the medieval fair and pilgrimage routes. These are called "Sentiers de randonnée"; with the major trails having a numbered GR designation ("Grande Randonnée"). The French hiking federation has this map of the GR network: http://www.ffrandonnee.fr/boutique/carte-de-france-sentiers-rando.aspx *wait until it's fully loaded before trying the zoom feature. It's also available in a PDF. What is your primary interest - nature/landscapes or history/villages? Where in the South of France are you considering going? If you can read a bit of French, Google "randonnée + a place" and you'll find all kinds of hits. Some suggestions that can be portioned into day hikes: The GR10 for landscapes in the Basque Pyrennées - ie the Vallée de l'Ossau The GR107 between Foix to Montségur - the Cathar trail
The GR65 for medieval villages, especially Conques - along the old Compostella route Hope this helps.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

If you want to start a project that you can come back to a couple of times, think about taking on the whole GR10. There's something like a hundred and fifty thousaand feet of ascent if you hump the whole thing. You can stay in the Gîtes d'étape or work sections and stay in regular gites. A good place to get a taste of it is in the Pyrenees National Park, walking the cliff section around Etsaut. There's several gites in Laurns, and the little village offers more than you'd think. The park itself is full of trails that you can use for day walks. The Laruns TI has fairly good information. Gedre is a smaller village that could support you that has good areas for day walks, some of which can be turned into loops.

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1156 posts

The GR10 section that Ed has mentioned is in the Vallée d'Ossau. Just before Laruns is the village of Bielle with an excellent B&B: Le Boila Laslie. http://www.leboilalaslie.com/ The owner, Valérie, speaks English quite well and most of her guests are hikers. She and her husband know the local trails very well and can steer you well.

Posted by Lori
Spokane Valley, WA
76 posts

Wow...thank you everyone so much. This information is exactly what I was looking for. To answer Diane's question we love scenery, small villages, photography and just getting out and experiencing the area beyond the tourist traps. I will check out these suggestions. Thank you!!!!

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1156 posts

For scenery & photography: above Bielle is the Plateau du Bénou. Google it using the images search feature and you will see why it is immensely popular with European hikers!! There's a funny story about Bielle. It traces its origins wayyy back in the past. At one point there was a Roman villa, whose materials were eventually recycled into an early medieval abbey. The abbey was destroyed in the 1500's and its materials recycled into the village's houses and church, including 4 Roman white marble columns being built into the church's apse. Admired by the covetous king Henry IV, the villagers gave him this response: "the columns belong to God".

Posted by Lori
Spokane Valley, WA
76 posts

Wow...what a great tip. So helpful. Again, thank you so much!