Five of France’s most beautiful coastal walks to try this summer

From Normandy to the Côte d’Azur, we look at some of the best hikes to do along France’s coastline

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With summer on the horizon, walking by the coast is a great way to enjoy an active holiday and take advantage of any sea breeze.

Here, we have selected some of the best coastal walks, whether you are an avid walker looking for a multi-day trip or a wanderer who seeks a casual stroll followed by lunch.

1. Côte d’Albâtre, Normandy

This walk from Le Havre to Le Tréport along the Côte d’Albâtre was voted the best hiking trail in 2019 by walkers across France.

It is 190km long and covers vast areas of the breathtaking coastline in Normandy but the number of kilometres you complete can be altered depending on your level.

Along the way, you will discover pebble beaches, port towns, green meadows and chalk cliffs.

Titled the GR* 21, this walk officially ends at the Gare du Havre. However, the walk then continues onto the GR 223, which ends at the must-see UNESCO heritage site Mont-Saint-Michel.

*(GR: Sentier de grande randonnée or long distance hiking trail)

Read also: Explore the sites to see the legacy of France’s glorious Roman past

2. La Grande Dune de Pilat, Nouvelle-Aquitaine

As the highest sand dune in Europe at 110m, this is well worth the climb for the stunning views of the Bay of Arcachon and Banc d’Arguin.

The Dune du Pilat is around 4,000 years old and made up of 60 million m3 of sand which accumulated naturally.

Once you have completed the climb - which is no mean feat - you can take advantage of three kilometres worth of space at the top, stretching from the forest to the cliffs.

You can access the dune by bike since it is situated on the La Vélodyssée cycle route. By car, it is around one hour from Bordeaux.

3. Menton to Monaco, Provence Côte d’Azur

The Côte d’Azur offers plenty of beautiful walks and hikes with amazing views of the Mediterranean thanks to the ability to get up high in the mountains of the Alpes-Maritimes.

However, if you fancy a leisurely wander at sea level, one particular path allows you to walk along the coast from Menton, the last town before the Italian border, into Monaco.

This route takes you right round the edge of the coast, with only rocks separating you from the sea, and ends in the heart of Monaco.

At around 8km, this is easily completed in a couple of hours and you can end with a swim at the beach in either Menton or Monaco to cool off.

Read also: Find Paris’s secret village hidden in the bustling Marais district

4. Sentier du Littoral, Basque Country

This 25km route in the Pyrenées takes you from Bidart, a former fishing village, to Hendaye.

Along the way, look out for numerous beautiful chapels including the Sainte-Madeleine Chapel in Bidart, as well as the Corniche Basque (Basque cliffs), which offer panoramic views of the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.

Drivers too can benefit from the views at Corniche Basque, apart from in September when it is completely pedestrianised for the Fête de la Corniche.

You can also stop for lunch at one of the port towns such as Guéthary to break up the hike.

5. Grand Sentier de la Côte Bleue, Provence Côte d’Azur

This path connects Marseille and Martigues and is one of France’s newer routes, having first been unveiled in 2018.

At 62km long, it takes around three to four days to complete, but if you don’t fancy the entire route, there are also various loops of different lengths you can do in a day or less.

Four viewpoints not to miss along the way are Les carrières de la pointe de Baou Tailla at Carro, Roselière du Grand Vallat at Sausset-les-Pins, Roselière du Grand Vallat at Sausset-les-Pins and Table d’orientation des Caucarières at Ensuès.

This area of France is famous for its calanques (limestone rock inlets) so this hike is the perfect way to see all it has to offer!

Read also: National parks in France warn visitors to respect flora and fauna

Your view

What is your favourite coastal walk in France? Please send any recommendations to Thank you!

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