The countdown is on until the biggest sporting event kicks off in Paris in 2024, where visitors from all across the globe join in the celebrations of the Summer Olympics.
Whether you're already getting Olympic fever or want to visit France before even more crowds arrive, here's a quick guide on the nine best active breaks across the Channel.
With an average of 300 days of sunshine each year, the dramatic coastline where the Pyrenees tumble to the Mediterranean can be enjoyed almost all year.
Expect stunning mountainscapes, sea views, bright skies and delicious seafood – but also with plenty of time for relaxation built into the itinerary, to enjoy the off-season calm of the pretty fishing ports along the Vermillion Coast where you will descend to on each night.
EXPERIENCE IT: Hike the Vermillion Coast over 8 days – departs year round, except January, July and August.
In the autumn of 1878, Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, set out to walk across the Cévennes accompanied by “a small grey donkey called Modestine”.
His journey inspired Travel with a donkey in the Cévennes, which 145 years on has since become a travel classic. Starting in the Auvergne, this walking trip follows a winding route across a region that boasts great natural beauty, romantic ruins and is almost totally unspoilt.
EXPERIENCE IT: Stevenson’s Trail: The Cevennes over 8 days – departs between May and September. An extended 10-day option is also available, which continues up the valley of the Mimente to St Germain de Calberte, and through villages and forests towards St Jean de Gard.
Discover the picturesque Vosges mountains and famous vineyards of the Alsace region on foot – ideal for lovers of good food and wine!
The walking route takes in the incredible flanks of the Vosges Massif; a green and mountainous corridor wedged between Lorraine in the west, Germany to the north and east and Switzerland to the south.
As one of the most picturesque regions of France, Alsace is home to attractive medieval walled villages, striking churches and ‘Hansel and Gretel’-style houses steeped in history. Combined with quiet country hills, undulating farmland, and sweeping valley views of orchards and vineyards, there's plenty to see and do as you soak up the relaxed and jovial atmosphere.
EXPERIENCE IT: Explore the Alsace Vineyard Trails in a week – departs between April and October. It's also one of the most cycle-friendly places in France with designated bike paths.
The Dordogne River Valley is a stunning part of France that is full of elegant stone houses and medieval castles and a walking tour offers plenty of scope to absorb the history and culture of the region.
Walking high in the Dordogne Valley, largely away from normal tourist haunts, you'll ramble on the riverbank, around villages and to hilltop castles and bastides.
Highlights include skirting the natural amphitheatre of the Cirque de Montvalent, whose great cliffs overhang the Dordogne between Carennac and Creysse, as well as visiting the six villages on the unofficial but prestigious list of '147 most beautiful villages in France'.
With delectable food and colourful markets, you will discover the specialities of the region (including mushrooms, walnuts, chestnuts, truffles, strawberries, foie gras, magret de canard and rich dark wines), while the historic towns of Creysse and Martel are fine examples of period architecture.
EXPERIENCE IT: Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne – 8 or 10 days, departs mid-April to early October.
Love the idea of discovering vine-covered valleys, meeting local winemakers, and wandering through vineyards? Then Burgundy – also known as the 'Land of Great Art and Good Living' – should be high on your list to visit.
From Dijon in the north to Santenay in the south, the ‘Route des Grands Crus’ runs through many of the great appellations of Burgundy wine. Punctuated by nearly 40 picturesque villages and little towns, it is divided into two sections: the Côte de Nuits is the land of the great red wines, while the Côte de Beaune is where Chardonnay reigns supreme. Wine connoisseurs will love this walking itinerary that sort of reads more like a wine list.
EXPERIENCE IT: Burgundy Vineyard Trails over 8 days – departs between March and November.
France’s longest river, the Loire, is also known as the Valley of the Kings and is the historic heart of the country. It is the countryside, lined with vineyards, orchards and farms, that inspired Balzac and where Leonardo Da Vinci spent his retirement.
A self-guided walking holiday offers you the chance to discover the peaceful region at your own pace immersed in spectacular historical sites, surrounding forests, medieval towns, not to mention the incredible food and wines.
Full of interest and pleasure, Loire is an ideal place to start for those with a love of France or setting out on a walking holiday for the first time.
EXPERIENCE IT: Loire Vineyard Trails over 8 days, departs between April to October.
Walk from the rugged terrain of the Gorges du Verdon, France’s most spectacular gorge (with 1,500-foot-high cliffs towering above the river!) to the Plateau de Valensole for endless fields of lavender and truffle oak plantations.
This hiking adventure closely follows the GR4 trail that crosses France from the Côte d’Azur to the Atlantic. Throughout your trip, you will be amazed at the contrast between the narrow streets and tall densely clustered houses of the Provençal villages and the often uninhabited landscape.
EXPERIENCE IT: Walking in Haute Provence over 8 days – departs daily between May and October.
Picture dense ‘maquis’, mountain ridges and granite peaks that soar to 2,700m, creating a rugged terrain, tempered by deeply wooded valleys, pine forest and cascading streams. Now imagine strapping on your hiking boots and endeavouring on a challenging yet stunning walk any Olympian would envy!
Walking from Corte’s old town, which clings to the steep slope below its majestic citadel, you'll cross the heart of the mountains to the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
Along the way, you will pass ancient villages that preserve century-old traditions and visit iconic rock formations such as Les Calanches. The great thing is that the hike is achievable if you put the training in. While you won't need to be an athlete to do it, the fitter you are the more enjoyable the walking holiday will be.
EXPERIENCE IT: Corsica Mountains and Sea over 8 days – departs between May and October.
Gain a unique insight into rural French life as you walk the secret hills and gorges of the Luberon. A revolving landscape of rivers and forests awaits, dotted with ‘mas’ (stone Provençal farmhouses) and ochre-coloured hilltop villages such as Gordes and Bonnieux. The stop at the beautiful Sénanque Abbey is always a trip highlight and you'll also soak in the town of Isle sur la Sorgue, known for its antiques and Venice-like canals. Magnifique!
EXPERIENCE IT: Rambling in the Luberon over 8 days – departs between March and November, except in July and August.
Get into the sporting spirit and feel like an athlete yourself by taking up your own multi-day active adventure in France, while still taking in the sights and atmosphere at your own pace. (It certainly helps when all the logistics, luggage and accommodation are sorted!) You can read more about how a self-guided holiday works too.