Hiking in the French Alps: Taking in Stunning Views from the Mountains

Hiking in the French Alps: Taking in Stunning Views from the Mountains

This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

For tourists going on tours to France and are on the lookout for an exciting outdoor activity to do, hiking the French Alps should definitely be at the top of your bucket list. Doing so will take you to an adventure of a lifetime past the tranquil lakes of Annecy, lush forests of The Vercors, limestone waterfalls in Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval, valleys carpeted with wildflowers, and of course, the breathtaking views atop the peaks of the mountains. The thrill-seeking adventurer in you would surely appreciate France’s scenic trails along with its biodiverse wildlife and landscape.

As they say, there is no better way to discover the dramatic views of the French Alps than on foot. So, pack your bags, and get to know the best hiking trails you can explore in the French Alps.

Tour du Mont Blanc

Distance: 165 km (103 miles)

Duration: 8 to 11 days

Elevation gain: 10,251 m (33,632 ft)

Level of difficulty: Difficult

Start and Finish Point: Chamonix, circular

Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the most sought-after long-distance trekking routes not only in the French Alps, but on the whole European continent. The hike starts and ends in the famous mountain town of Chamonix, which will then circle the Mont Blanc massif, passing through Switzerland, Italy, and France en route.

Mont Blanc is arguably the most famous mountain in Europe. Hailed as the highest mountain in the Alps, it rises all the way up to 4,810m (15,780 ft). Taking on the Tour Du Mont Blanc will allow you to see this regal giant of a mountain from all sides, which is rightfully described by most hikers as a life changing experience.

The hike trail spans 165 km (103 miles) and takes 8 to 11 days to complete, so you will walk roughly 15 to 20 kilometers a day with around 1km of ascents and descents. It rises 10,251 meters (33,632 ft) above sea level, so right from the get-go, you should know that this will not be an easy hike and you would need to have lots of stamina for this trek.

The difficulty of the terrain varies throughout the route. There are more gentle areas as well as tougher trails that will put you through your paces! But the adventure is truly worth it as you will get the chance to marvel at far-reaching valley views, suspension bridges, and vantage points over Dent du Géants, the Grandes Jorasses, and of course, of the breathtaking view of Mont Blanc. This route is usually walked counterclockwise for the best views of the 4,696-meter-tall mountain.

Petit Mont Blanc, Courchevel

Distance: 20.8 km (12.92 miles)

Duration: 7 to 8 hours

Elevation gain: 1,028 m (3,372 ft)

Level of difficulty: Difficult

Start and Finish Point: Le Belvedere, Courchevel

Petit Mont Blanc, Courchevel

If you do not have much time to trek for several days but would still like to admire the beauty of Mont Blanc, take the Petit Mont Blanc route in Courchevel instead. This 20.8-kilometer (12.92 miles) round trip route starts at Le Belvedere, located near Courchevel Moriond, which takes about 7 to 8 hours to complete. With an elevation gain of 1,028 m (3,372 ft), the terrain is steep, and this route is generally considered difficult.

Thus, it is generally recommended for experienced hikers, but amateur hikers are also welcome to try. But if you take on the challenge of traversing this long, winding route, you will be rewarded with 360° panoramic views from the Vanoise glaciers to Mont Blanc. The awe-inspiring scenery is the perfect entertainment along the way! It would be impossible not to stop and admire the views of the mountain range in front of you.

This route will take you through the Vallee des Avals. It also passes through the Vanoise National Park, which is home to rare wildlife and undisturbed nature.

Cirque Du Fer-À-Cheval 

Distance: 10 km (6.21 miles)

Duration: 4 hours

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Start and Finish Point: Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval

Cirque Du Fer-À-Cheval 

For those who are intimidated by the challenging trails of Tour du Mont Blanc and Petit Mont Blanc and would like to take on a just moderately difficult hike in the French Alps, the Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval trail is for you. This stunning horse-shaped valley is located in the village of Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval on the French-Swiss border, which is about 30km from Chamonix.

This trail will give you the most spectacular view of waterfalls, running down the limestone cliffs and thundering into the valley below. Cirque Du Fer-À-Cheval is a 10-kilometer hiking trail that is short and moderately challenging. It loops through the valley and takes around 4 hours to complete.

The climb to the summit is surprisingly steep, and you will have to be physically fit to keep your pace here. But even if you are not in tip top shape, the good thing is that there are ropes and metal handrails that you can hold onto to help you get to the top. At the peak, you will be greeted by the smell of fresh coffee at the cabins there.

Lac Blanc

Distance: 6.1 km (3.8 miles)

Duration: 2 to 4 hours

Elevation gain: 360 m (1,180 feet)

Level of difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Start and Finish Point: Tré-le-Champ in Argentière, Chamonix.

Lac Blanc

Lac Blanc is one of the most popular short trails among hikers of the French Alps. It spans the distance of 6.1 km (3.8 miles) and takes just 2 to 4 hours to complete. This is why it is a popular excellent choice for vacationers who would like to experience hike but does not have a lot of time to spare.

The hike is fairly easy, with elevation gains of merely 360 m (1,180 feet). As such, it is a suitable route for most people. However, take note that it is uphill for the first 1.5 to 2 hours as you ascend to an altitude of 2,352 meters. You will also need to climb up ladders that are fixed to the side of the mountain, so a certain level of physical fitness and a good pair of sturdy shoes will come in handy.

The Lac Blanc trail would take you through the Aiguilles Rouges nature reserve, and around a serene mountain lake, which offers breathtaking panoramic views over the Aiguilles de Chamonix, Les Drus, and La Verte. You will also get to see the Aiguillette d’Argentière—a magnificent rock formation, the Lacs des Cheserys, and Lac Blanc itself. If you’re lucky, you might even get a glimpse of wildlife such as ibex, chamois, marmots, and golden eagles.

The Lac Blanc trail starts in Tré-le-Champ in Argentière, Chamonix. From here, the trail is around 4.9 km with a 939-meter ascent. If you do not have enough stamina for some of its steep inclines, you can take the La Flégère cable car up, which would reduce the climb to just under 500 meters. It can also be accessed by public transport. There is a TER bus that runs from Chamonix-Mont-Blanc to Montroc le Planet, which is a 15-minute walk from the start of the trail.

French Alps: A Hiker’s Dream

French Alps: A Hiker’s Dream

Hiking through the French Alps is quite a surreal experience that you would not want to miss. From its lush forest, sea of clouds, mesmerizing lakes and waterfalls, there is surely no shortage of awe-inspiring and breathtaking sights that will fascinate you on the way to see Mont Blanc.

Like it? Pin it here⇓! Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

A guide about the best hiking routes in the French Alps- with information about the routes and useful tips. A guide about the best hiking routes in the French Alps- with information about the routes and useful tips. A guide about the best hiking routes in the French Alps- with information about the routes and useful tips.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top