Walking is almost a national pastime in France and tens of thousands of kilometres of paths criss-cross the country.
No matter what your fitness level, your preferred choice of landscape or how much time you have available, there is a walk to suit you.
This network of trails is overseen by the Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre (FFRP), an organisation which maintains, usually with the help of like-minded volunteers, all walking paths in France.
Long distance paths, or Grand Randonnées, are referred to as GR paths and use a system of red and white blazes to mark the way.
Shorter paths, confined to one region of France, are known as Sentier de Grand Randonnée de Pays or GRP trails and use red and yellow blazes.
Local trails known as Sentier de Promenade et Randonnée or PR trails use single yellow stripes or, where there are multiple paths, multiple colours are used.
The blazes are self-explanatory depicting left turns, right turns and wrong way and will be shown in the front of your TopoGuide or at the Tourist Office.
‘What’s my TopoGuide?’ I hear you ask.
TopoGuides are a series of books produced by FFRandonnée which provide very detailed information about many walks. Although they are written in French, once you master a few directions, you will be well on your way. Each double page shows a topographic map (scale 1cm = 500m) on the left with written instructions, sights along the way and services given on the right.
TopoGuides are available from book stores in Paris or on-line
If there is no TopoGuide for the path you are walking, the IGN map Series Bleu scale 1:25,000 will do just as well and will have your path clearly marked. These are available from the IGN store in Rue de la Verrerie in Paris (near the Hôtel de Ville) and on-line.