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Information walking and rambling France the web magazine for visitors to France.

Walking and Rambling in France

It's worthwhile making a day of your shopping trip to Calais by going for a good walk along the beach or cliffs just a few kilometres outside Calais. No only will you build up an appetite but on a clear day you will be able to see the white cliffs of Dover. There are 40,000km of Grandes Randonées (routes) in France.

Beach and Cliff Walks near Calais

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Calais Walk

From a leaflet by the Service Tourisme et Patrimoine (Heritage) Historique. Tel: 0033 321 46 66 41.


Marker 1 – Watchtower, situated in the Place d'Armes, it was used as a lighthouse between 1818 and 1849.

Markers 2 and 3 – Follow the rue de la Paix, the markers are on the lawn, on the left. At the end of the road, you will have to turn left towards Notre Dame.

Marker 4 – A "Monument Historique", the Notre Dame Church is the only Church in France to comprise English perpendicular elements.

Marker 5 – Turn back, taking the pedestrian crossing opposite the Church towards Place d'Armes. You will pass the vault (and should see marker 5).

Marker 6 – Keep walking to the other side of Place d'Armes, cross the road, and walk down rue Jean-Noël Dubout. Marker 6 is on the right hand pavement (halfway up).

Marker 7 – At the end of the street, at the intersection with the Bd. des Alliés, you will see on the left the Louis XVIII column. This was erected in memory of the return to France of the King after a long exile in England. Further down the road on your right is the lighthouse, which offers superb views over the town and surrounding countryside.

Markers 8 and 9 – Walk around the port basin (markers 8 and 9).

Marker 10 – Cross over the Henri Hénon bridge (over the canal).

Marker 11 – After crossing the bridge, turn right, where you will see Fort Risban one of the last survivors of the sea forts which existed (this was an English fort that protected the harbour).

Marker 12 and 13 – Walk back over the Henri Hénon bridge, and turn right following Bd. de la Résistance. At the roundabout, turn left, up the Esplanade, alongside which are the gardens of the Citadel. Two towers dating back to the English Occupation, still stand. Cross the bridge to join Porte de Neptune (marker 12). Past the entrance, turn left towards the Porte de Secours (marker 13).

Marker 14 – When you leave, follow the Av. Pierre de Coubertin. At the first crossroads turn left, continuing down the Av. de Verdun. At the roundabout turn right and cross Av. Roger Salengro to Fort Nieulay.

Cliff top security

The cliffs (falaises) between the two caps are magnificent – but dangerous. Follow these simple rules and enjoy your day in safety.

1 Stay clear of the edge – rock falls are frequent.

2 Never ride a bicycle along the cliff top.

3 Don't throw anything down on to the beach.

4 Don't run.

5 Use the special paths to get down to the sea – don't try and find your own route.

6 Don't go near the bottom of the cliff.

7 Don't look for fossils or pebbles – it is illegal to do so.

8 Don't get caught by the tide which can come in quickly.


– United Kingdom The Ramblers, 1-5 Wandsworth Road, SW8 2XX.

Cellule Développement de la Randonnée, Maison des Sports du Pas-de-Calais, 9 rue Jean Bart, 62143. ANGRES. France. Tel: 0033 321 72 67 18.

Companies offering holidays for ramblers

– Alternative Travel Group. Tel: 01865 315 665.

– Belle France – walking holidays. Tel: 01797 223 777.

– Big Foot Travel (Chamonix). Tel: 0870 300 5874.

– Enlightened Traveller. Tel: 0870 020 99 00.

– Espace Evasion – weekend walking packages in the Rhône Alpes. Tel: 0033 450 04 50 85.

– Exodus. Tel: 020 8675 5550.

– Explore Worldwide. Tel: 01252 760 000.

– Headwater. Tel: 01606 813 367.

– HF Holidays, Imperial House, Edgware Road, London. NW9 5AL. Tel: 020 8905 9556.

– Inntravel. Tel: 01653 629 031.

Mountain Bug. Tel: 0033 562 92 16 39.

– Outbreak Holidays. Tel: 020 7193 5325.

Pyrenees Adventures. Tel: 01433 621 498.

– Ramblers' Holidays, P O Box 43, Welwyn Garden City, Herts. AL8 6PQ. Tel: 01707 331 133.

– Sherpa Walking Holidays. Tel: 020 8577 7187.

– Uplands Escapes. Tel: 01367 851 111.

donkey holidays – UTracks. Tel: 0845 241 7599. Walking break with dinkeys carrying the luggage.

– Walker's France Ltd., 134, Corbets Tey Road, Upminster, Essex, RM14 2ED. Tel: 01708 222 035 / 01622 540 021.

– Walks Worldwide. Tel: 01524 262 255.

– Waymark. Tel: 01753 516 477.

Walk your way through the French Language

– World Walks. Tel: 01242 254 353.


The best large-scale maps are prepared by the Institut Géographique National (IGN, 107, rue La Boétie, 75008 Paris; phone 0033 1 42 56 06 68), as they indicate elevations and steep grades. As such they are recommended for walkers and ramblers

Walking in France – the basics

The French walking trail system is about 110,000miles long. There are three types of path:

1. Sentiers de grande randonnee (GR's) – Long national paths. +- 38,000miles of GR trails in France, and are marked in white over red on maps. IGN map 903 (France, Grande Randonnée).

2. Regional paths, called GRP's. +- 25,000miles of GRP trails in France. These are often circular routes and are marked in yellow over red on maps.

3. Local paths, called PR's. Radiate out from towns and villages and generally short walks. +- 47,000miles of local paths, marked yellow on maps.

Maintainance of the trail system is by the Féderation Française de la Randonnée Pédestre (FFRP).

The Institut Géographique National (IGN) is the French government mapping agency. This organisation publishes many maps at varying scales, which make it easy for the independent walker to first plan and then take a long distance walk anywhere in France. IGN map #903 gives you the grand overview, individual maps from the IGN green Top100 (scale1;100,000) series allow you to plan your walk at home before you leave and the very detailed maps from the IGN 1:25,000 blue series will guide you on the trail, almost whispering in your ear, there's a village just over that ridge, the trail turns to the left just after the cemetery…


‘Walk and Talk’ your way through the French countryside and learn the local lingo as you go.

Following the success of their Spanish Walk and Talk, Waymark Holidays have introduced a new French Walk and Talk holiday, combining walking in glorious French countryside with language lessons.

The week-long holidays are based in the charming port village of Honfleur offer those with some basic French the perfect opportunity to build on their knowledge and put it into practice along the trails.

Six morning classes with experienced teachers are followed by walks in the region led in French. Themes include the history of the area, sites of historical interest, fishing villages and bird walking with an ornithologist. The last day is spent at the local boulodrome playing petanque with the locals.

Prices start at £725pp including flights, half board accommodation and the services of the tutors and guides.

For details and bookings, call Waymark Holidays on 0870 950 9800.

Useful Outside links

Protect my holiday – Protect my Holiday. This company offers insolvency cover.

– French Walking Asoociation (FFRP).

– Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre.

– Rando Accueil offers a range of rural acomodation for walkers.

Randonet, useful links.

Voies Vertes, a guide to walking, cycling and roller blading routes in France.

Veleroutes voies verts – Veloroutes Voies Vertes. "The AF3V is a French association which promotes the development of cycle routes and greenways".

– Bon Pied Bon Oeil, a local Pas de Calais walking site.

Randopale, local walking club.

Guide natures, nature walks.

Walking on the web, a useful guide.

Walking World. Best walking maps (180 to choose from).

Walks in Nord department.

Balades France, online French magazine.

France on Foot, loads of useful links.

Cicerone, books – has a section on France.

Traildino, worldwide but good list of links for France.

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