Once you have chosen a walk, planning an itinerary that suits your timeframe and your fitness level is the next step.
I will happily walk 20-25 kilometres (12-15 miles) each day with an occasional thirty kilometre (18 mile) day where necessary. But I know that thirty kilometres day in, day out will be gruelling and I’ll arrive in town each afternoon too exhausted to do anything but collapse on my bed.
And since I will have chosen a walk because there’s a village or a château or something that has captured my imagination, I want to arrive with plenty of time and energy to enjoy my visit. I like to think that walking through France is an excuse to wander from one delicious meal to the next while exploring all the delightful distractions along the way!
So, make a list of the places where you know you’ll want to linger and give yourself an extra hour or two, perhaps an afternoon or even a rest day. Consider also that most historical monuments will be closed for at least one day each week and plan your itinerary accordingly.
If your idea of the perfect trail mix is fruit, nuts, maybe some locally grown figs or prunes, freshly baked baguette and a little cheese, then finding yourself in town on market day is the ideal start to the morning (and if it’s not market day, perhaps collecting a tarte aux fraises (strawberry tart) from the boulangerie as you go is the next best thing).
Perhaps you are the ‘leave at the crack of dawn and don’t worry about the tourist attractions’ type or you have a tent and can sleep wherever you land each night. In that case, choose a walk and continue browsing to the Where Else Will You Find Accommodation page for a list of all villages with accommodation or campgrounds on each of the walks. Lucky you—that may be all the planning you need to do!
My itineraries are based around an ‘enjoy breakfast, walk for ten kilometres, have a nice lunch, walk another ten kilometres, linger over dinner’ kind of schedule. And it goes without saying that I will need enough time to poke my head into every church and check out every château along the way.
If you are more like me and like to know everything that’s going on, all the information to plan your itinerary is included in the guidebooks—
- Distances between villages
- Map details
- Where to sleep—website links and contact details for all accommodation
- Where to eat—is there a café, bakery or grocery store?
- Other services—is there a pharmacy, doctor, bank or ATM?
- Website links and contact details for companies who transfer luggage between hotels
- Tourist Office links and addresses
- Market days
- Local attractions, including website links to check opening days and hours
- Train and bus access, including website links to all timetables
- Taxi phone numbers
- Useful French phrases—how to book a room, order dinner, read your TopoGuide and talk to the taxi driver
- Dozens of photos…to keep you inspired
And now it’s time to…