Long distance Footpaths -
Les GR - Sentiers de Grande Randonnée

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Map of long-distance footpaths - carte des sentiers GR

Monts du Cantal France is a country well equipped with long-distance footpaths or hiking trails. There are over 100,000 kilometres of walking trails, crossing the country in all directions; but it is in the areas of "wild France" that the paths are most numerous, and most popular. The map below shows many of the longest and most popular hiking trails in France. Further information is given below.
Long-distance footpaths or hiking trails are known in France as "Sentiers de grandé randonnée"; as with main roads, there is a national network, and the 35,000 km of marked and signposted footpaths that make up the main network are designated by numbers, preceded by the letters GR. For reasons of clarity and legibility, the map above shows only the main GRs.
  Besides GR paths, there are also PR paths, "Chemins de petite randonnée", marked trails that are most suited for local hiking, and not necessarily connected to any GR routes. GR routes are marked (on trees, posts, stones, etc) by a short red band above a white band. PR routes are marked with a yellow band. In addition, many French communes or communities have set up their own marked footpaths independently of the national network. All in all, the choice for ramblers, walkers and serious hikers is immense.
Most of the major long-distance trails run through villages where hikers can find accommodation in bed and breakfasts, "gîtes d'étape" (rather like small hostels), campsites or small hotels. Before setting out on a long distance trail, it is essential to study the route carefully on detailed maps, and check the accommodation available.

Principal long-distance hiking trails in France.

  • GR2 - From Le Havre, via Paris, to Dijon.
  • GR3 - The Loire Valley trail - From La Baule, to the source of the Loire
  • GR4 - The Alps-Atlantic trail: from Grasse, in the Alps, to Royan, on the Gironde estuary.
  • GR5 - From the Luxembourg border to Nice (trail originating in Holland).
  • GR6 - The Aquitaine-Alps trail, from Ste. Foy la Grande, near Bordeaux, to Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye.
  • GR7 - The Vosges-Pyrenees trail, from southern Alsace to Andorra.
  • GR8 - The south Atlantic coastal trail - from Hourtin Plage to Sare, in the western Pyrenees.
  • GR9 - The Jura and Alpine foothills trail, from St. Amour to St. Tropez.
  • GR10 - The High Pyrenean trail, following the line of the Spanish border.
  • GR12 - From (Amsterdam) and the Belgian border to Paris.
  • GR 13 - The Morvan trail, from Fontainebleau to Bourbon-Lancy.
  • GR 14 - The Ardennes trail, from Paris to Malmédy, Belgium.
  • GR 21 - The Alabaster coast trail, from Tréport to le Havre.
  • GR 22 -  Mont Saint Michel pilgrimage trail - Paris to Mont St. Michel
  • GR 34 - The Breton coastal footpath, from Vitré to Quimperlé.
  • GR 36 - The 1000 kilometre trail, from the Channel coast to the Spanish border.
  • GR 37 - The central Brittany footpath, from Vitré to Douarnenez.
  • GR 39 - The Trans-Brittany trail, from Mont St. Michel to Guérande.
  • GR 41 - From Tours to the Massif du Sancy (Massif Central)
  • GR 46 - From Tours to the Tarn.
  • GR 48 - The Vienne valley trail.
  • GR 51 - The Mediterranean Balcony - from Marseille to Menton
  • GR 59 - The Jura and Bugey trail, from the Vosges to Grenoble.
  • GR 65 - The Santiago de Compostella pilgrimage route, from Geneva, via Le Puy en Velay and Conques, to the Pyrenees.
  • GR 223 - The Cotentin and Normandy beaches trail.
  • GR 700 - Regordane Way - historic pilgrimage route from Le Puy en Velay to St. Gilles du Gard.

Contrary to information  posted on a UK motorcycle site, GR paths are not normally open to motorbikes, quads or other motorised vehicles, except where these follow byways or tracks that are designated as such. On many sections of GR, motorbikes and quads are both unauthorised and unwelcome. GR routes are for hikers, not bikers. French Environment ministry circularDGA /SDAJ/BDEDP n°1 of June 2005 states: "the law considers that for a track to be presumed open to motorised traffic, it must be manifestly usable by a vehicle not specially adapted for off-road driving"  .

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