About Walking in the Southern French Alps
Walking is the best way to access the mountains and there are hikes and walks for all levels in the Southern French Alps. Hike into the Ecrins National Park and admire the glaciers and dramatic high mountains towering above you or walk through the rocky foothills of upper Provence with magnificent views of the Alps to your north.
There are of course many self guided walks you can do in the area but for an extra insight into the wildlife, flowers and plants or to challenge yourself with a big hike into the mountains, we recommend using one of the many guides and mountain leaders in the area.
There are a wide variety of guided walks and hikes with many different themes including wildlife spotting, survival and finding edible plants!
It is also possible to go for a long distance walk stopping over at refuges along the way. Have a look at some of the walking trips and hiking tours offered by our activity providers below.
Choose Your Walk
All these walking tours and day hikes are bookable online and are our most popular walks in the Southern French Alps. If you are looking for something specific or would like to book a private hiking guide for your group on a particular day, please contact us.
Have a look at the location of all the hikes, treks and walks offered by the walking guides and instructors on our platform. Sometimes the guides may use different walks or hikes in the area if conditions are not favourable for these particular ones, but these are the most common locations for the various themes on offer. Any alternative locations will be in near proximity and confirmed with you in advance if different.
What You Need to Know
When you are walking in the mountains, you are often a few hours away from civilisation so you need to be prepared for all weathers and eventualities.
It is very important to make sure you have enough food and water for your hike plus a bit more.
As you go higher in the mountains the temperature drops and it can quickly get cold even if it is hot and sunny in the valley. You should dress for the temperature in the valley minus several degrees and take extra clothes and waterproofs in your rucksack.
Wearing layers is the best solution as you can add and remove layers as the temperature changes.Choose clothes that wick away sweat from your body.
Also take a sun hat, suncream and sunglasses even in winter!
Walking boots with ankle support are the best footwear for mountain walking as it is easy to turn your ankle on a rock and they offer that extra support and grip.
It is also important to take a basic first aid kit with you for emergencies.
Other optional equipment includes walking poles which will save your knees from wear and tear and help you conserve energy, binoculars, camera and a little sit mat (piece of camping mat is perfect) for sitting on when you have your picnic!
On a guided walk, your guide or instructor will have essential first aid and safety equipment but it is a good idea to be self sufficient when heading off in the mountains as you can be a long way from help. If you are heading off in to the mountains by yourself, make sure you know how to read a map, take a map and compass with you and make sure you tell someone where you are going.
Best Time of Year for Walking in the Alps
If you love Alpine flowers, then spring and summer are the best times of year for walking in the Alps. As the snow recedes, the white is replaced by lush, green foliage and a multi-coloured tapestry of blooming Alpine flowers attracting butterflies in fluttering masses. Spring in the Alps starts around April, May with a gradual snow melt starting at lower altitudes working it’s way upwards and finally disappearing off the main walking passes by end of June, beginning of July. June, July, August and September are the most popular months for walking.
Autumn is another magnificent time of the year for walking with the Autumn colours out in their full glory generally by the end of October. The Southern French Alps is unique in its rich diversity of deciduous and evergreen trees. In the autumn you will be blown away by the golden larch needles and the deep oranges, reds and yellows of the wild mixed woods and forests interspersed with conifers and other evergreens.