The French Alps offer beautiful mountains, scenic Alpine forests, lake views and plenty of mixed terrain. Whether you are looking for an easy stroll, a challenging summit or multi-day trek, there are hiking routes suitable for all fitness levels.
Where to go
The regions with some of the best selection of running trails in Southern France include Haute-Savoie, Languedoc-Roussillon, Rhône-Alpes, Midi-Pyrénénees and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. Aswell as fantastic places to run, you’ll find small villages steeped in history, beautiful architecture and plenty of arts and culture.
When to go
The ideal time would be from June – August when you can expect the warmer weather averaging 20 – 30°C. If you prefer slightly cooler weather then head to the Alps between August and October when the weather is more changeable and temperatures are cooler.
Portes du Soleil
Located in Haute-Savoie, there’s no end of beautiful and picturesque options for running. An ideal place to base yourself is Châtel, a pretty and traditional French village on the French-Swiss border and about 90 minutes from Geneva airport. This is the perfect place to access the Portes du Soleil which offers 800km of signposted trail tracks. There are over 50 permanent routes and 22 mountain lifts. Choose your starting point from one of the 12 Portes du Soleil resorts and you can enjoy running across mountain trails, lush forests, beautiful valleys and depending on the time of year, snow-packed mountain peaks in the background.
Where to stay: Chalet la Fontaine is located in the alpine village Châtel, just 90 minutes drive from Geneva Airport. The chalet sleeps 8-10 people and has a fully equipped kitchen, ideal for families and groups of friends looking for exclusive use of a chalet in the French Alps.
TIP: Download the free mobile app (http://en.portesdusoleil.com/summer/trail/trail-running-app.html) and you can follow your progress in real time via GPS, check the weather any time with the webcams, and even call for help should you need to, using the rescue function.
Located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region Chamonix is one of the oldest ski resorts in France. It’s also home to the famous 166km Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) which takes place every August. Competitors reach 10 summits, cross rivers, glaciers and get to run in France, Italy and Switzerland. It takes place in the shadow of Mont Blanc and is one of the most breathtaking routes in the Alps. There are endless trails to discover in the Chamonix valley, the terrain is as spectacular as it is varied.
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is southeastern France and borders Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. Renowned for diverse landscapes which include stunning vineyards, olive groves, pine forests and the world-famous lavender fields. To the south is the Côte d’Azur (or French Riviera), home to turquoise waters and the elegant city of Nice and glamorous coastal towns such as Saint-Tropez and Cannes. The mountains in the north promise action-filled holidays and there are plenty of trail running routes to discover. On the edge of the Ecrins National Park on the border with Provence there are lower altitude mountains between 1500m and 3000m which are perfect for trail running.
Outside of Toulouse you’ll can discover lush rural landscapes perfect for hiking and other outdoor activities. If you’re looking for a bit more rest and relaxation then escape to the north and enjoy rolling hills, wooded valleys and rivers. Adrenaline junkies can head to the majestic Pyrenees down south for more dramatic terrain. There are a series of footpaths which together with the temperate climate make for ideal walking conditions.