The French Alps offer a runner’s dream, with its beautiful mountains, Alpine forests, and captivating lakeside views. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll, a challenging summit, or a multi-day trek, the region has hiking routes to suit every fitness level. Embark on a journey through the stunning locations that make the French Alps a true runners’ paradise.
Where to Go: Exploring Southern France
The Southern region of France is home to some of the best selection of running trails in the French Alps. Regions such as Haute-Savoie, Languedoc-Roussillon, Rhône-Alpes, Midi-Pyrénées, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur offer not only fantastic running routes but also opportunities to explore historical villages, admire beautiful architecture, and immerse yourself in the rich arts and culture of the area.
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur: The Gem of the French Alps
When it comes to choosing the perfect time to visit the French Alps for running, consider planning your trip from June to August. These months offer warm and pleasant weather, with average temperatures ranging from 20 to 30°C. Alternatively, if you prefer slightly cooler conditions, the period between August and October is ideal. During this time, the weather becomes more changeable, and temperatures are cooler.
Portes du Soleil: A Trail Runner’s Haven
Located in Haute-Savoie, Portes du Soleil is a true gem for trail runners. Settle in the charming village of Châtel, situated on the French-Swiss border and just a 90-minute drive from Geneva Airport. From here, you can easily access the expansive Portes du Soleil trail network, which offers an impressive 800km of signposted tracks. With over 50 permanent routes and 22 mountain lifts, you can experience the thrill of running across mountain trails, lush forests, and breathtaking valleys. Keep an eye out for snow-packed mountain peaks, providing a picturesque backdrop during certain times of the year.
Where to Stay: For a cozy and well-equipped accommodation option, consider Chalet La Fontaine in Châtel. This alpine village retreat is perfect for families and groups of friends, with its fully equipped kitchen and comfortable sleeping arrangements for 8-10 people.
TIP: Enhance your running experience by downloading the free mobile app from Portes du Soleil. This app allows you to track your progress in real time via GPS, check weather conditions with the help of webcams, and even call for assistance if needed.
Chamonix: Where Adventure Meets Spectacular Beauty
Nestled in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, Chamonix is a renowned destination and one of the oldest ski resorts in France. However, it’s not only a winter paradise. Every August, Chamonix hosts the famous Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), a 166km race that takes participants through 10 summits, rivers, glaciers, and multiple countries. The trail running options in Chamonix are endless, with the valley offering a wide range of routes suited to all levels of runners. Immerse yourself in the spectacular and varied terrain that surrounds this iconic town.
Provence: A Haven of Diverse Landscapes
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, located in southeastern France, is a region that borders Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. It is famous for its diverse landscapes, including stunning vineyards, olive groves, pine forests, and the world-renowned lavender fields. In the southern part of the region, known as the Côte d’Azur or French Riviera, you’ll find turquoise waters and elegant cities like Nice, along with glamorous coastal towns such as Saint-Tropez and Cannes. Heading north, the mountains offer action-filled holidays and numerous trail running routes to explore. The border area with the Ecrins National Park boasts lower altitude mountains between 1500m and 3000m, providing the perfect playground for trail runners.
Midi-Pyrénées: A Paradise for Hikers and Trail Runners
Midi-Pyrénées, located outside of Toulouse, offers lush rural landscapes that are ideal for hiking and other outdoor activities. If you’re looking for relaxation, head north to enjoy rolling hills, wooded valleys, and scenic rivers. For adrenaline junkies seeking dramatic terrain, venture south to the majestic Pyrenees. The region boasts a network of footpaths and a temperate climate that makes it perfect for trail running.
As you explore the stunning locations in the French Alps, let the beauty of this runners’ paradise captivate your spirit. From the picturesque trails of Haute-Savoie to the awe-inspiring Chamonix valley, the French Alps are waiting to be discovered. Embrace the adventure and revel in the breathtaking landscapes that make this corner of the world truly extraordinary.