Walking the French Foothills way

Some people will tell you that the French Pyrenees aren't suitable for those who want easy or gentle walking.

We're here to tell you that that's a myth.

Easy walking in the French Pyrenees - yes, it is possible!

While the mountains are a perfect playground for those who want to bag peaks, cross glaciers, scramble, leap from boulder to boulder, stride along precipitous edges, climb 1400 metres in just a couple of hours and carry crampons, that's just a part of the story.

We love walking but we’re not interested in how fast we can cover a path, how much height we can gain in the minimum time or how many kilometres we can walk; nor are we up for scary scrambles, precarious footholds or anything that needs crampons. 

We've been welcoming holiday guests for a long time now - first in England, and for the last 10 years here in the Pyrenees - and have found over the years that many of our guests feel exactly the same as us. It seems that we ‘softie walkers’ form quite a crowd! And so these days we focus particularly on informing, helping and encouraging those who, like us, consider themselves walking wimps, whether by age, lack of practice or opportunity, particular fitness issues or just by simple choice.

"Walking is the best way to go more slowly than any other method that has been found"

Frederic Gros, 'A Philosophy of Walking'

The ultimate slow

Walking holidays are the ultimate slow. Contrary to what you might fear or believe, you don't have to be a super-fit, rope-carrying, peak-bagging type, not do you have to kit yourself out from head to toe in Lycra and Goretex.

And most importantly, you don't have to join a group of strangers, huffing and puffing to keep up when all you really want to do is stop and enjoy the view, take close-up photos of an amazing flower or have a long, lazy picnic lunch.

Whether you've never walked before or you're an experienced walker, we'll help you discover the landscape, the sounds and the smells at your own pace.

The hidden Pyrenees

Tourism in the Pyrenees is mostly concentrated within a few large, well-known sites, mainly in and around the National Park in the centre and west of the region. The eastern Pyrenees, covering the neighbouring departments of Ariège and Pyrénées-Orientales, are the hidden Pyrenees. They don't have the fame of the central Pyrenees, where coachloads of people descend every day in summer to see the Cirque de Gavarnie and outdoor tour operators fall over themselves to offer highly organised walking and wildlife holidays.

So the eastern Pyrenees remain rather off the beaten track, even to the French. We happen to think that this is a Very Good Thing ... because they remain unspoilt, natural, wild and peaceful ... you can walk in summer and not meet another soul.

The French foothills criteria

We've created a unique French Foothills portfolios for the Ariège and another for the Pyrénées-Orientales, where our holiday barn is based. The portfolio includes over 100 rambles, walks and hikes for everyone, from simple strolls to longer hikes, but always:

Less than 5 hours walking time (many considerably less);
Less than 600 metres overall height gain (most considerably less);
No scary scrambles or scree;
No climbing or crampons;
On well-marked paths;
Within 60 minutes of your accommodation (with just a few exceptions).

We provide many of the local walking maps and guides too, and you'll also find walking poles, binoculars and a 'just in case' kit (compass, whistle and survival sac) in your accommodation.

And unlike a classic walking holiday, we assume that (like us) you'll want to spend some of your time doing and seeing other things, so we'll also provide you with a wealth of information and resources to help you.