Traversée de Chartreuse - GR®9
Through tranquil woods and hushed forests, past impressive peaks and thundering waterfalls, the Chartreuse Crossing is self-guided 2- to 3-day hike that plunges you into the wild natural beauty of the Chartreuse mountains, now the Chartreuse Regional Natural Park. Straddling Isère and Savoie between Grenoble in the south and Chambéry, the Chartreuse massif is 45 km long by 25 km wide, with 1,450 m of difference in altitude from its 1,000 m-high valleys to its summits of Chamechaude, the Grand Som, Dent de Crolles, and Mont Granier in the north. Within the park is the Hauts de Chartreuse Nature Reserve, accessible only on foot, where more than 700 rare plants flourish and several species of birds and bats nest. This is a region of sustainable forestry on its slopes, and where herds of native tarentaise dairy cows, sheep and goats graze the high alps and pastoral valleys. Spend a night in one of the villages or hamlets along the way, or out on the hills in a bivouac under the stars.
Grande Traversée de Vercors (GTV)
With incredible wide-open scenery, limestone cliffs and gorges, accessible peaks and high plateaus, the Vercors is paradise for hikers. The Great Vercors Crossing - Grande Traversée du Vercors (GTV) - is made up of two long-distance hiking trails: the 410-km Tour du Vercors loop (a 20-day hike); and the 60-km Traversée du Vercors (3-day hike) through the vast Parc Naturel du Vercors, France’s largest natural reserve. Here, you’ll discover the region’s diverse flora and fauna: from ibex, roe deer, chamois and marmots to protected wildflowers including martagon lilies, great masterwort, gentian and edelweiss. Overnighting means staying in non-staffed mountain huts or bivouacking. Specialist operators run guided all-inclusive packages.
Grand Tour des Écrins - GR®54
Despite a reputation as one of the toughest mountain hikes in France, the challenging Tour des Ecrins (GR®54) through the Ecrins massif, France’s first National Park, should be a breeze for anyone relatively fit. Sometimes remote, with high, steep sections, the 7- to 12-day loop covers 184 km, crosses 14 cols (the highest at 2,735 m) and 12,800 m of height difference. The rich biodiversity and untamed nature of the Ecrins National Park in the Oisans is the main draw. The wild trek is renowned for panoramic landscapes across lakes and mountains, including the main peaks of the southern Alps - Barre des Ecrins (4,102 m) and La Meije (3,983 m). Wild flowers fill the alpine meadows, where marmots, chamois and ibex dwell, and birds of prey, including griffon vultures and golden eagles, soar the skies. Take time to enjoy the scenery by strolling slowly and staying in one of the numerous mountain refuges along the way.
Haute Traversée de Belledonne GR®738 - The Shepherd’s Trail
Considered to be one of the most beautiful, yet most challenging hiking trails in France, the 130-km Belledonne Crossing offers total immersion into a remote and wild, high-altitude mountain environment. Crossing the Belledonne mountains’ central ridge between 2,500 and 2,970 m, the tough route attracts seasoned hikers ready to attack the 10,000 m elevation gain. Named for the shepherds who graze their flocks here, the 11 sections include stops at mountain refuges (including the cosy Refuge Habert d’Aiguebelle) and gites dotted across a landscape where ibex, chamois and marmot roam. This spectacular hike meeting the herders, passing through pastures and forests, and dominated by 3,000 m-summits, opened in 2018.
In the Steps of the Huguenots - GR®965
Providing panoramic views of all of Isère’s mountain ranges, the world-class 146-km hiking trail ‘Sur les Pas des Huguenots’ follows the historical exile of the French Calvinist protestants, the Huguenots. Driven out of France in 1685 by the Catholic Dauphiné, more than 200,000 fled on a 1,600-km-journey from Poët Laval in the Drôme to Bad Karlshafen in Germany. Twelve sections of the itinerary run across Isère from the Col de Menée in southern Vercors between Nonières in the Drôme and Percy. The route then passes via the lakes of Trièves and Matheysine, through Grenoble to the Grésivaudan, before entering Savoie near the 16th-century bastion Fort Barraux.