When most people think of mountains in France they think of the French Alps, but the Alps aren’t the only mountains in France. There are actually portions of seven different mountain ranges in France. The seven different mountain ranges in France are the: Alps, Pyrenees, Jura, Vosges, Massif Central, Corsica, and Auvergne.
Even though the mountains in France are famous for their luxury ski resort and world-class winter sports these mountains are also fantastic for hiking. There are hiking opportunities for everyone including beginners. Although there are some climbs that are only for expert mountaineers.
10 Mountains In France
Whether you are looking for a fun hiking destination or training to take on even bigger climbs up more severe mountains you can do it all in France. The mountains in France range from easy climbs to intense tests of mountain climbing. But no matter what mountains in France you are climbing you are sure to see some breathtaking views. Some of the most popular and stunning mountains in France to visit are:
Nearby City: Lyon
Known For: Mont Blanc means “white bone” and it was named that because of the permanent snow cap that it is. The mountain Mont Blanc sits on the border between the Southern Alps and the Northern/Western Alps so it has a different climate from the Southern Alps which tend to be warmer. This mountain is the second highest mountain in Europe behind Mount Elbrus and the highest mountain in Western Europe. It’s so tall that it creates its own weather, which is one of the reasons why it has a permanent snow cap. The summit is always below freezing.
Even though most people think of Mont Blanc as being a freezing and uninhabitable place there are many animals that call this giant mountain home. Ibexes, marmots, chamois, and other animals live on Mont Blanc and there are more than 45 different native plant species that thrive there too.
Mont Blanc is a very popular tourist destination. More than 30,000 people climb this mountain every year. If you’re not a hiker or a mountaineer but you still want to see the incredible views from Mont Blanc there is a mountain railway tram, cable cars, and other transportation that can get you at least part of the way up the mountain.
Height: 13,523 feet
Nearby City: Chamonix
Known For: Aiguille Verte is often called the prettiest mountain in the entire Alps. This unique mountain has a series of snow-capped ridges that make it stand out from other prominent mountains that have a singular summit. The dramatic ridges make Aiguille Verte visible from huge distances. But it’s not an easy mountain to climb because of the rocks, the extremely cold temperatures, and the snow. Those ridges are much harder to climb than a mountain with one peak at the top.
Climbing Aiguille Verte requires a local guide or tour company and a group of climbers for safety. It’s at least a two-day excursion and sometimes takes up to a week depending on the weather. On the first day, you will hike to base camp. The next day you will take on the ascent to the top. You must be in excellent physical condition and have mountaineering experience to do this climb. Sometimes climbers will be actively climbing for 13 hours or more to get to the top.
If you don’t feel confident taking on the main mountain you can try hiking the “petite Aiguille Verte” which is a shorter climb that goes to the base camp area and then back down.
Location: Luberon Natural Regional Park
Height: 3,690 feet
Nearby City: Auribeau
Known For: Mourre Negre is small in elevation compared to some of the towering mountains in the French Alps. However, it’s one of the most beautiful easy hikes that you’ll find anywhere in France. It’s a very popular hiking and walking spot so be prepared for crowds, especially if you’re visiting in the summer. But it’s a hike you’ll remember forever for the sheet beauty that’s everywhere you look.
The trail starts near the tiny village of Auribeau. The walking paths are well-maintained and the trail to the summit is gentle. Along the six-mile or so look trail hike to the summit and back you will go through some of the 11th-century ruins of the original Auribeau.
After leaving Auribeau you will walk through amazing fragrant lavender fields and into French countryside that looks like it’s straight out of a painting. You’ll also go by the ruins of a 12th-century chapel called Saint-Pierre Chapel which is fascinating to see. The summit of Mourre Negre is actually pretty barren compared to the beauty of the land around it. The views are fantastic though.
Montagne Sainte Victoire
Location: Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
Height: 3,100 feet
Nearby City: Aix-en-Provence
Known For: You have probably seen images of Montagne Sainte Victoire before in a museum. That’s because legendary painters like Cezanne, Picasso, and Kandinsky were inspired by this particular mountain in France. Even though it’s not a big mountain the rocky outcroppings, grassy hills, and wildflowers on this mountain led to the creation of some stunning paintings by artists who are now considered masters of their craft.
Cezanne in particular loved Montagne Sainte Victoire. It’s said that he could see the outline of the mountain from his home in Aix-en-Provence. That could be why he was so interested in it. He used the painting as an inspiration for more than 30 paintings. He loved that area all of his life.
Today you can hike Montagne Sainte Victoire. More than 100,000 people come to the area to hike in the footsteps of Cezanne and Picasso every year. But, hiking may be restricted between July and September in order to limit the wear and tear on the site. Over the years the trees have been decimated by climate and fire and so the authorities will sometimes limit the amount of people allowed to hike during those months.
Cirque de Gavarnie
Location: Pyrenees National Park
Height: 9,842 feet
Nearby City: Gavarnie
Known For: The Cirque de Gavarnie is one of the most unique mountains in France. It’s got a mid-range elevation that definitely is nowhere near as tall as some of the Alpine mountains. However, the Cirque de Gavarnie is unique because it’s a natural amphitheater of rock and stone with a large circular flat grassland surrounded by huge soaring rock walls and ridges. It’s truly a sight to see if you are visiting France. The enormous rock walls are sheer-faced and the summit and ridges are beautifully capped with snow.
You can explore Cirque de Gavarnie but it’s a bit of a journey to get there. You can go on foot or you can ride a horse to get up most of the mountain, although, at the highest elevations, you will need to do some rock scrambling so you will need to be on foot. First, you will need to get from the village of Gavarnie to the flat grass bowl of the mountain which is a bit of a hike. But since it’s relatively flat land with just a small incline it’s not too hard. From there you can see signs for the trail that you can take to the summit.
Height: 4,475 feet
Nearby City: La Bresse
Known For: The Hohneck is located in the Vosges mountain range that runs near the German Dark Forest area. It’s the second tallest mountain in the Vosges mountain range. This mountain is not forested. It is made up of mostly grassy rounded hills and ridges. The summit is narrow but has no trees at all. If you can make it to the summit you will get a spectacular view of the rivers that lie on either side of the mountain. And on a clear day, you can see the outline of the Dark Forest in the distance.
There are several different approaches you can take to get to the summit. You don’t need a guide to hike up the Hohneck but you may want to hire a guide who can help you figure out the best approach for you based on your current hiking skills. This mountain gets a lot of visitors but it’s in a pretty remote area so make sure that you bring plenty of water and food with you.
Puy de Sancy
Location: Massif Central
Height: 6,188 feet
Nearby City: Super-Besse
Known For: If you are looking for the perfect spot for a French hiking and climbing vacation Puy de Sancy is it. This mountain is the highest point in central France and it’s the tallest point in the Massif Central mountain range. The elevation isn’t severe but it’s high enough to be challenging if you want to get in a good hike. The north slope and the west slope have excellent skiing so there are ski resorts on those sides of the mountain that are very popular in the winter.
If you want to explore the summit and some of the beautiful trails at the top of the mountain in summer there are trams and cable cars that will get you most of the way up so that you don’t have to hike all the way up. That’s why this mountain is one of the best mountains in France for beginner hikers who want the views but don’t necessarily want the long slog to the top.
And when you’re done hiking or skiing Puy de Sancy is very close to the spa town of Mont-Dore where you can get a great meal, some fabulous wine, and all the pampering and luxury care you could want.
Location: Chartreuse Massif
Height: 6,831 feet
Nearby City: Grenoble
Known For: Chamechaude is one of the tallest mountains in France. It’s located in the French Alps and it’s exactly the kind of mountain that people picture when they think of the Alps. This gorgeous mountain has vibrant green grass, snowcapped ridges and peaks, huge fields of Alpine wildflowers, and wildlife like mountain goats.
Despite the picturesque scenery, it can be a bit of a challenging hike, so it’s a good fit for intermediate or advanced hikers primarily. There is a resort village at the base of the mountain where you can stay overnight if you want to start your climb early in the morning but you don’t want to camp. You can reach the summit and get back down to the resort in one day if you start early.
Height: 8,878 feet
Nearby City: Lozzi
Known For: Monte Corsica is the highest point in Corsica. It’s a difficult climb. If you’re a beginner hiker this is not for you. Even experienced climbers have trouble with a Monte Cinto climb because the terrain is very rough and rocky. There are a lot of sharp drop-offs and outcroppings and the trails are very uneven.
But, if you can make it to the top you will see stunning views of Corsica and the Asco Valley far below. On a clear day, it’s said that you can see all the way to Italy where you can make out the outline of the Monte Rosa mountain.
In addition to the rough terrain, you need to be very wary of the weather. Monte Cinto has a unique weather pattern. The weather can turn cold, wet, windy, and nasty very quickly. Always have rain and snow gear along with plenty of water and food if you’re going to hike Monte Cinto.
Height: 6,273 feet
Nearby City: Vaucluse
Known For: Mont Ventoux is often called “The Beast of Provence” because it’s a long, hard slog to the top. The summit is narrow, rocky, and difficult to reach. But there are impressive views from the top if you can reach it. Mont Ventoux has been included as part of the official Tour de France cycling race in the past. So if you’re a cyclist looking for a real challenge take on the challenge of Mont Ventoux and see if you’re ready to ride the Tour de France.
10 Tallest Mountains In France
- Mont Blanc
- Barre des Écrins
- Pointe Percée
- Puy de Sancy
- Grande Tête de l’Obiou
- La Tournette
- Le Taillefer
- Aiguilles d’Arves
Highest Point In France
Mont Blanc- 15,777 feet
Summary of 10 Breathtaking Mountains in France
|3||Mourre Negre||Luberon Natural Regional Park|
|4||Montagne Sainte Victoire||Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur|
|5||Cirque de Gavarnie||Pyrenees National Park|
|7||Puy de Sancy||Massif Central|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © By-studio/Shutterstock.com
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the highest point in France?
Mont Blanc, at 15,777 feet, is the highest point in France.
How many mountain ranges exist in France?
There are actually portions of seven different mountain ranges in France. The seven different mountain ranges in France are the: Alps, Pyrenees, Jura, Vosges, Massif Central, Corsica, and Auvergne.
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