Hiking doesn’t have to be for the hard-core – here in Normandy, we have hiking trails for all skill and fitness levels!  Among these trails are six Grandes Randonnées, aka long-distance signposted hiking trails across France managed by the Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre (FFRandonnée). Each GR is signposted in the same way with easily recognisable red and white markers – you may even have seen them around on your holidays, in the forest, by the sea or in the countryside!

France’s grande randonnée hiking trails

  • are marked and maintained by FFRandonnée volunteers
  • cover several thousand kilometres of hiking trails across France
  • are suitable for both experienced and amateur hikers alike
  • span an vast range of different landscapes, allowing hikers to get up close and personal with nature and the great outdoors
  • can be enjoyed for periods ranging from just one day or a long weekend to a week or even a few weeks, all at your own pace!
Hiking on the Cotentin peninsula © T. Houyel

1) GR2: By the banks of the River Seine

The GR2  is an 858km hiking trail that follows the River Seine from its source to Saint-Seine-l’Abbaye (Côte-d’Or) via Paris, Rouen and Le Havre. Hikers can explore the meanders of the River Seine and visit the many abbeys in the Seine Valley, including Saint-Georges-de-Boscherville and Saint-Wandrille, all year round.

Saint-Georges-de-Boscherville Abbey © T. Houyel

2) GR210: In the footsteps of fishermen

The GR210 is an 86km trail from Dieppe to Rouen, and is also referred to as ‘Sur les traces du chasse-marée’, a nod to the medieval custom of Dieppe fishermen transporting fish overnight in carts (chasses-marées) to where it was to be eaten in Rouen. Hikers set off from the Quai Henri IV in Dieppe and can then enjoy a several-day hike down to Rouen, ending on the Place du Vieux-Marché.

3) GR21: Along the Alabaster Coast

The GR21 extends from the seaside town of Le Tréport on Normandy’s easternmost border to the city of Le Havre, passing through Dieppe and Etretat. It invites you to discover the Côte d’Albâtre on foot over 190km. In 2020, the GR21 was officially voted the best hiking trail in France.

The seaside town of Etretat on the GR21 © F. Godard

4) GR223: A COLOSSAL coastal path

The GR223  follows the 660km coastal path known as the Sentier des Douaniers, which starts in Honfleur and ends at the Mont-Saint-Michel. Hikers can explore the contrasting landscapes of the Normandy coastline, from the Belle Epoque seside towns on the Flowered Coast to the famous D-Day Landing Beaches. The trail continues from there through the Cotentin and Bessin Marshes Regional Natural Park then up to the rugged Cotentin peninsula and the port of Cherbourg, down through the atmospheric fortified town of Granville before ending at the magical Mont-Saint-Michel.

5) GR22: Paris to the Mont-Saint-Michel

The GR22 starts in Paris, in front of Notre-Dame on the Ile de la Cité, and ends 563km away at the foot of the Mont-Saint-Michel. Many pilgrims have followed this route which crosses three regional natural parks; two of which are in Normandy, the Perche and the Normandie-Maine.

Walking in the Bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel © E. Berthier

6) GR36: The English Channel to the Pyrenees

Starting in the Normandy port town of Ouistreham, the GR36 leads hikers through the Suisse Normande region of Normandy then on through the rest of France for a whopping 1,000km, right down to where the Pyrenees mountains meet the Mediterranean Sea.

Handy hints before you head off

  • Check the weather forecast to avoid being caught out by rain; or worse, by mist if you’re hiking at altitude
  • Wear suitable hiking clothing and footwear
  • Pack appropriate equipment, such as maps (paper maps and/or if digital, maps that are available offline), waterproofs, refreshments, water, trekking poles, emergency flare, etc.)
  • Subscribe to GR @ccess for up-to-date information on all of France’s Grande Randonnée hiking trails, recommendations for accommodation en route, downloadable GPS tracks and other tips on how to organise your hike
A hike with a view © G. Wait / Calvados Attractivité

Coasteering in the Cotentin

Coasteering in the Cotentin

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