7 Best Mountains in France (for Hiking + Skiing)

by Jem
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Searching for the best mountains in France? You’re in for an epic adventure! From the legendary Mont Blanc to the rugged trails of Le Meije, France is a playground for mountain enthusiasts. Whether you’re after thrilling hikes, serene nature walks, or incredible panoramic views, France’s peaks are calling your name. Let’s explore France’s most beautiful mountains!

Ah, France! Just the mention of it and I’m transported back to those crisp mornings with a café au lait in hand, ready to tackle another trail. If you’ve got a thing for peaks and valleys, let me tell you, France is where you want to be. I’ve had the joy of exploring some of the best French mountains, and each climb has been a story etched in my memory.

Take Mont Blanc, for instance. It’s not just about the bragging rights of reaching the summit. It’s the journey there—the camaraderie with fellow hikers, the quaint mountain towns you pass through, and those moments of pure awe at the beauty around you. That’s the stuff that sticks with you.

In this guide, I’m taking you with me to the best mountains in France. Here, every trail promises a unique adventure and the mountains offer more than views—they offer unforgettable experiences. Ready to lace up your boots and hit the trails? Let’s discover seven of the most beautiful mountains in France that will steal your heart and take your breath away!

The top mountains to visit in France right now
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Best Mountains in France

France’s varied landscape is a playground for the adventurous at heart and a sanctuary for those who find peace in the great outdoors. When you visit France, you’re welcomed by stunning mountain ranges that draw in visitors from every nook of the planet.

Whether you’re after the thrill of alpine sports or the tranquility of untouched natural beauty, these towering peaks will leave you spellbound. To complement the rundown of the finest mountains to hike and ski in France, I’ve sprinkled in some choice spots for where to stay to enhance your journey.

Without further ado, let’s get to it. Here are my handpicked selections for the 7 best mountains in France.

1. Mont Blanc

Ever dreamt of standing atop the roof of Europe? Mont Blanc is your destination! This towering peak is not only the highest in the Alps but also a symbol of adventure for hikers and skiers worldwide. And you don’t need to be an expert to savor its wonders.

Chamonix, at Mont Blanc’s base, is the perfect starting point for your ascent. It’s a place buzzing with excitement, where climbers gear up and share tales of past expeditions. In the winter, this spot claims its fame as one of the best mountain towns in France. Here, you’ll find slopes that offer thrilling runs for skiers of all levels.

The mountain itself presents routes for various experiences. The climb to the summit is a journey through pristine snowfields and rugged ridges, with professional guides making it accessible for many. For those who prefer a gentler adventure, the Aiguille du Midi cable car whisks you to jaw-dropping altitudes, no climbing gear needed.

Mont Blanc’s allure isn’t limited to its peak. The Tour du Mont Blanc trail is a hiker’s paradise, a 170-kilometer circuit that weaves through the heart of the alpine wilderness. Here, every step introduces a new scene. You’ll find blooming meadows to serene lakes, all under the watchful eye of the mighty Mont Blanc.

For a truly immersive experience, I recommend the mountain huts along the trail. These hidden gems in France provide hearty meals and warm hospitality. It’s in these moments, surrounded by fellow adventurers, that Mont Blanc feels like home.

Are you prepared to tackle the trails, ski the slopes, or simply soak in the alpine splendor? Plan your Mont Blanc adventure and witness why it’s celebrated as one of France’s best mountains!

An international emblem of exploration for skiers and hikers.
An international emblem of exploration for skiers and hikers.

2. Aiguille du Midi

If you’re searching for the best French mountains, let me point you towards Aiguille du Midi. Towering above Chamonix, this needle-like peak is a magnet for visitors looking to capture the essence of the Alps without the grueling climb.

For those who crave a sky-high adventure without the technical climb, Aiguille du Midi delivers. The cable car to its summit is an experience in itself, offering panoramic views that are hard to match. At the top, step into ‘Step into the Void’, a glass box over a 1000-meter drop, if you dare. It’s a photo op that’s both thrilling and unforgettable.

Aiguille du Midi is the starting line for some of the most exhilarating alpine adventures in France. Mountaineers use it as a launchpad for the famed Vallée Blanche ski run or as the first step on the route to the Mont Blanc summit. And for climbers, the peak’s challenging routes are a siren call.

The peak’s allure extends beyond the adrenaline rush. It’s a place where you can stand above the clouds and watch the sunrise paint the peaks in hues of gold and pink. Trust me, it’s a moment that’s sure to etch itself in your memory.

Getting to Aiguille du Midi is a breeze. The cable car station is right in Chamonix, which is well-connected by train and road. Accommodations here range from cozy chalets to luxury hotels, all ensuring you’re well-rested for your alpine adventure. When it comes to dining, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Restaurants here serve up Savoyard specialties that are the perfect end to a day in the mountains.

Visitors hoping to experience the spirit of the Alps without the strenuous hike are drawn to this needle-shaped summit.
Visitors hoping to experience the spirit of the Alps without the strenuous hike are drawn to this needle-shaped summit.

3. Barre des Écrins

When it comes to the best mountains in France, Barre des Écrins stands tall and proud. It’s the highest peak in the Écrins National Park and a jewel in the French Alps crown. At 4,102 meters, it’s a paradise for climbers and a testament to the raw beauty of nature.

If you’re drawn to the high places of the world, Barre des Écrins is calling your name. The mountain’s rugged face and the surrounding glaciers offer a playground for mountaineers. And for those who reach its summit, the reward is a 360-degree panorama that captures the wild heart of the Alps.

It’s not all about the climb, though. The park itself is a haven for nature lovers. In the warmer months, the lower trails of Barre des Écrins are perfect for day hikes. You can wander through alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers and spot marmots basking in the sun. Believe me, Barre des Écrins is one of the best mountains in France to visit in summer.

The spirit of the mountain is mirrored in the local culture. The nearby towns, like La Bérarde and Ailefroide, are steeped in mountaineering heritage. Here, you can share a meal with climbers who’ve tackled the peak, and maybe even pick up a few tips for your ascent. The camaraderie in these towns is palpable, and the stories you’ll hear are as captivating as the landscape.

Access to Barre des Écrins is straightforward. The town of Briançon, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the gateway to the mountain. It offers a charming base with its fortified buildings and vibrant history. From there, you can venture into the park to begin your ascent or enjoy the many outdoor activities available.

Climbers will find nirvana there, and the unadulterated beauty of nature is evident.
Climbers will find nirvana there, and the unadulterated beauty of nature is evident.

4. Pic du Midi d’Ossau

Let me introduce you to the rockstar of the Pyrenees: Pic du Midi d’Ossau. It’s not the tallest kid on the block, but it sure has a presence that’ll make you stop and stare. Rising 2,884 meters high, this mountain has a way of catching the first light of day that’s nothing short of magical. In my opinion, Pic du Midi d’Ossau is one of France’s most beautiful mountains that often gets overlooked.

Now, for those of you itching for a good climb, Pic du Midi d’Ossau isn’t just another notch on the belt—it’s a full-blown adventure. The paths up this mountain are as varied as the legends that echo around its peaks. There’s something for everyone, from the newbie hiker to the grizzled alpinist. The view from the top is simply spectacular.

Right at the foot of this giant, you’ve got a culture that’s as rich as a hearty mountain stew. The local refuges are more than just a place to crash. They’re where you swap stories and dig into some tourte aux myrtilles that’ll have you nodding with approval.

Come summer, and Pic du Midi d’Ossau turns into a hiker’s playground. Trails wind through meadows that are a riot of colors, past streams that babble about ancient mountain secrets, and lead you to mirror-like lakes that’ll have you whipping out your camera for that perfect shot.

Getting here is a breeze. I recommend basing yourself in Laruns. It’s a town oozing with charm and offering cozy stays. Whether you’re rolling through the valleys by bus or driving yourself, the journey’s as picturesque as they come. If you’re flying in, Pau Pyrénées Airport is your ticket to this peak’s doorstep.

This mountain has a truly amazing way of capturing the first rays of sunlight.
This mountain has a truly amazing way of capturing the first rays of sunlight.

5. Puy de Sancy

Just a skip away from the quaint villages of the Auvergne, Puy de Sancy stands tall, a volcanic giant that’s a playground for the outdoorsy and the adventurous. It’s not every mountain that can boast of ski runs and hiking trails where once lava flowed, but Puy de Sancy pulls it off with flair.

One of the mountain’s coolest quirks? The “valley of the cowbells” as I like to call it. It’s this lush, green space where the sound of cowbells fills the air, and the local cheeses taste like they’ve been infused with the mountain’s spirit. It’s a slice of pastoral paradise that feels like a step back in time.

For the night owls and the dreamers, Puy de Sancy is a stargazing escape. Its peaks, far from the city’s buzz, offer a canvas of stars so clear, it feels like you could reach out and swipe a constellation right out of the sky. Truly, it’s one of the best mountains in summer in France for a midnight rendezvous with the cosmos.

It’s not just the natural beauty that makes Puy de Sancy stand out. It’s the way the mountain’s woven into the locals’ lives. From the folk tales told in hushed tones in the village pubs to the mountain-inspired art that adorns the local inns, the spirit of Puy de Sancy is everywhere.

And for those who get their kicks from a bit of speed, the mountain’s slopes are a haven. Skiing, snowboarding, or mountain biking—take your pick. The mountain’s diverse terrain means there’s always a new challenge to tackle, a new thrill to chase. Trust me, the adventures here are as rich as the volcanic soil it springs from.

An enormous volcano that serves as a playground for thrill-seekers and nature lovers.
An enormous volcano that serves as a playground for thrill-seekers and nature lovers.

6. Le Meije

Le Meije isn’t just another peak in the French Alps—it’s a legend. Rising to 3,984 meters, it’s a titan among the best mountains in France. Believe me, standing on its summit is like standing on the roof of the world. The views? They’re the kind that’ll have you pinching yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming!

Now, if you’re mulling over where to ski in France, let’s just say Le Meije has a few aces up its sleeve. Sure, the Swiss Alps get all the hype, but Le Meije’s slopes, draped in the finest powder you can imagine, offer a skiing experience that’s pure magic.

Come summer, and it transforms into a hiker’s paradise. The trails here are a mix of gentle paths that meander through wildflower meadows and rigorous routes that dare you to conquer them. And when you do, the reward is a 360-degree panorama that’ll leave you breathless—literally and figuratively.

What really makes Le Meije special, though, is the village of La Grave. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill ski resort town. It’s a community with a soul. The locals live and breathe the mountain, and their hospitality is as warm as the après-ski drinks they’ll share with you. Here, every conversation, every shared meal, enriches your journey.

Le Meije’s beauty is matched only by its accessibility. Nestled close to the charming towns of Grenoble and Briançon, getting here is a scenic journey through some of the most picturesque areas of the Alps. Whether you’re coming in by car or catching a bus, the roads to Le Meije are as inviting as the mountain itself. And for those flying in, the Grenoble Airport is your gateway to this alpine queen.

Le Meije is a tale rather than a mere summit in the French Alps.
Le Meije is a tale rather than a mere summit in the French Alps.

7. Grand Veymont

Last up on our list of the best French mountains is Grand Veymont. Standing as the highest peak in the Vercors Massif at 2,341 meters, it’s a giant that offers a gentle welcome to those seeking a serene escape.

In the winter, Grand Veymont is a wonderland that’s just waiting to be explored. Skiers of all skill levels find their bliss on slopes that range from bunny hills to black-diamond runs. If you’re into snowshoeing, the trails here are like stepping into a snow globe. Each turn reveals scenes more picturesque than the last.

When the snow gives way to the green of summer, Grand Veymont becomes a hiker’s haven. Trails crisscross the landscape, leading you through fields where wildflowers nod in the breeze and forests where the only sound is the whisper of leaves. And the views from the top? They’re a panoramic feast for the eyes, a reward for the soul.

What’s truly enchanting about Grand Veymont, though, is its sense of tranquility. This mountain doesn’t just stand above the Vercors. It watches over it like a guardian, its presence a calming influence on the region. It’s a place where you can hear yourself think and where each breath feels like a fresh start.

The towns dotting the Vercors are the perfect complement to Grand Veymont. Places like Villard-de-Lans and Autrans offer that irresistible mix of rustic charm and warm hospitality. They’re the kind of towns where you can wander into a bakery and come out with a story to tell along with your pastries.

Amazingly massive, with a warm welcome to anyone seeking a quiet retreat.
Amazingly massive, with a warm welcome to anyone seeking a quiet retreat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Best Mountains in France

Before you head out to enjoy a trip of a lifetime visiting some of the best mountains in France, I thought I’d take a moment to answer a few questions. Below you’ll some of the most frequently asked questions about the best French mountains. I hope my answers help you have an unforgettable adventure!

What is the best mountain region in France?

When it comes to choosing the best mountain regions in France, it’s like picking a favorite child—impossible! However, I’d recommend the Chamonix Valley, located at the foot of the majestic Mont Blanc. It’s a great spot for skiers, hikers, and climbers, boasting some of the best mountains for skiing in France as well as idyllic summer trails. Each region, from the rugged Pyrenees to the verdant Vosges, has its unique charm and a suite of peaks that could easily vie for the top spot.

What are the top 5 mountain ranges in France?

  1. The Alps: Located in the east of the country, the Alps border both Switzerland and Italy. They are the largest and best-known of the main mountain ranges of France. The Alps cover around 750 miles (1,200 kms) and range across 8 countries. The highest peak in the Alps is Mont Blanc, which stands at 4,808 meters (15,774 ft) and is the highest in Europe.
  2. The Pyrenees: Older than the Alps, the Pyrenees are a gem in the south of France. They stretch from the Atlantic coast in the west to the Mediterranean coast in the east. The range marks the border between France and Spain and contains the tiny country of Andorra. The highest peak in the Pyrenees is Aneto Peak at 11,169 ft (3,404 meters).
  3. Massif Central: Located in central France, the Massif Central is geologically the oldest part of the country and covers around 15% of the whole of France. It is made up of 4 main volcanic massifs. The highest peak in the region is the Puy de Sancy at 1,885 meters (6,184 ft).
  4. The Jura: The Jura mountain range stretches from the Rhône River to the Rhine, north of the Alps. It covers over 360 km (225 miles) in France and Switzerland. The highest peaks are around Geneva, including the highest, the Crêt de la Neige in Ain at 5,636 feet (1,718 meters).
  5. The Vosges: Located in eastern France, the Vosges Massif is near Germany. The highest peak in the Vosges is the Grand Ballon at 1,424 meters (4,672 ft).

Additionally, there are other notable mountain ranges such as the Morvan in Burgundy and the mountains of Corsica. Each of these ranges offers unique landscapes, recreational opportunities, and cultural significance.

What is the most visited mountain in France?

Without a doubt, Mont Blanc is the most visited mountain in France. This towering peak stands as a pilgrimage for mountaineers and holds the title as one of France’s best mountains. It draws adventurers from all over the world, each eager to experience the exhilaration of reaching Europe’s highest summit.

What does Mont Blanc mean in English?

Mont Blanc translates to “White Mountain” in English. In my view, it’s a name that perfectly captures the snow-capped majesty of this European giant. It’s a title that hints at the alpine purity and the eternal winter that reigns at its summit.

Why is the Mont Blanc mountain famous?

Mont Blanc, often referred to as “the White Mountain,” is famous for several reasons:

  1. Highest Peak in the Alps and Western Europe: Mont Blanc stands at an impressive 4,808 meters (15,774 feet) above sea level, making it the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe. This stature has made it a symbol of natural grandeur and a major draw for mountaineers and outdoor enthusiasts from around the world.
  2. Mountaineering and Climbing History: Mont Blanc has a rich history in the development of modern mountaineering. It was first summited in 1786 by Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard, an event that is often marked as the birth of modern mountaineering. Since then, it has become a coveted peak for climbers.
  3. Challenging Climbs and Routes: The mountain offers a variety of routes, ranging from relatively accessible to highly technical, attracting both amateur hikers and experienced climbers. The most popular route to the summit is the Goûter Route, which, while being the least technical, still presents significant challenges and risks.
  4. Spectacular Scenery and Panoramic Views: The Mont Blanc massif offers breathtaking scenery, with its snow-capped peak, glaciers, and surrounding alpine landscape. The views from the summit and various points on the mountain are panoramic and awe-inspiring.
  5. Tourism and Recreation: The region around Mont Blanc, including towns like Chamonix in France and Courmayeur in Italy, is a major tourist destination. It offers a range of activities like skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and sightseeing. The area is particularly famous for its ski resorts and winter sports facilities.
Mountains provide more than just scenic vistas; they also provide one-of-a-kind adventures.
Mountains provide more than just scenic vistas; they also provide one-of-a-kind adventures.

Are French mountains good summer destinations?

Absolutely! The French mountains are summer sanctuaries. With their lush meadows, crystal-clear lakes, and well-marked trails, they’re fantastic places to visit in France in the summer. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely hike, a challenging bike trail, or simply a peaceful retreat in nature, the French mountains offer an array of experiences that make for an unforgettable summer getaway.

What are the top 3 mountains in France for skiing?

Here are the top 3 mountains in France for skiing:

  1. Courchevel 3 Vallees Mountain & Ski Resort: Located in the Les Trois Vallees, the world’s largest and most popular ski area, Courchevel offers an unparalleled skiing experience. The vast ski area boasts over 600 kilometers of ski runs, catering to skiers of all levels. The resort provides a stunning view of snow-covered mountains and trees. Activities available include ski touring, spas and aqua centers, yoga, picnic spots, and more. It operates year-round.
  2. Chamonix: Chamonix is home to Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc. The ski area covers four sectors, including Les Grands Montets, Brevent-Flegere, Balme Tourmente, and Les Houches. An epic thing to do in Chamonix includes skiing, from beginner slopes to challenging off-piste terrains. The town itself is vibrant and offers many activities in both winter and summer. Activities at the resort include ski touring, snowboarding, off-piste skiing, ice climbing, paragliding, and extreme skiing.
  3. Meribel: Located in the heart of the Three Vallees, Meribel offers 600 km of slopes, making it one of France’s most popular ski resorts. The resort caters to skiers of all levels, from beginners to experts. Meribel is also known as the off-piste capital of France, offering numerous slopes and an intense winter wonderland atmosphere. Activities at the resort include skiing & snowboarding (freestyle, free-ride), off-piste skiing/snowboarding, hand-skiing, downhill skiing, heli-skiing, cross-country skiing, and more. It operates from December through April.

These resorts are renowned for their excellent skiing conditions, modern facilities, and breathtaking alpine scenery. If you’re planning a ski trip to France, any of these resorts would be a fantastic choice!

What is the most famous mountain in Paris?

Paris, being a largely flat city with no natural mountains, does not have any famous mountains within its immediate vicinity. However, the most famous mountain-related attraction in Paris is the hill of Montmartre. Here’s why Montmartre is notable:

  1. Historical and Cultural Significance: Montmartre has been a center of artistic activity and bohemian life since the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was the hub for artists like Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and many others who lived and worked in the area.
  2. Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur: Located at the summit of Montmartre, the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur is one of Paris’s most iconic landmarks. It offers panoramic views of the city and is a popular tourist destination.
  3. Charming Streets and Atmosphere: The area around Montmartre is known for its charming, narrow streets, historic buildings, and a village-like atmosphere that stands in contrast to the bustling city below.
  4. Artists’ Square (Place du Tertre): This area near the summit is famous for its artists who set up their easels each day to paint and sell their works. It’s a vibrant spot that captures the artistic soul of Montmartre.
  5. Moulin Rouge: At the foot of Montmartre is the famous Moulin Rouge, the birthplace of the modern can-can dance and a historic cabaret venue.

Recap: France’s Best Mountains

Wrapping up our mountain-hopping escapade in France, it’s clear that each summit has its own personality, quirks, and stash of breathtaking views. From the proud, photogenic Pic du Midi d’Ossau to the grandeur of Grand Veymont, there are plenty of beautiful mountains to visit in France.

If I had to pick a favorite, Le Meije would steal the show. It’s not just the peak itself but the whole vibe of La Grave that captures the essence of a French mountain getaway. It’s where the adventure scales new heights, and the local cheese tastes as heavenly as the surrounding views.

France’s mountains are the ultimate playground for anyone with a zest for life and a pair of sturdy boots. Each trail you trek and peak you conquer adds a chapter to your adventure story. And believe me, whether you’re here for the snow, the sun, or the sheer joy of yelling ‘Bonjour’ from a mountaintop, these French giants deliver!

The top mountains to visit in France right now
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