You can’t have failed to see them if you have ever been walking in France on holiday. Weird flashes of yellow, maybe red and white or even red and yellow flashes daubed on tree trunks, on walls, gates and even on stones on the ground. They look like mystic runes or something. What on earth do they signify?!
Walking in France – the Petite Randonnée
Some people may not agree with it, but for walkers and hikers, this marking of features is an invaluable aid to not getting lost on their walk/hike. If you are walking in France and see the yellow marking, they denote a ‘petite randonnée’, or ‘small walk’. This is a local walking circuit for which you can get the details from the local tourist office. All you need to do is find the starting point, follow the yellow markings and voilà! We would advise you to take a map on your walk too, just as a backup.
Grande Randonnée de Pays
If you are out walking in France and see yellow and white markings on trees, walls, gates etc, these indicate a ‘grande randonnée du pays’ or ‘big regional walk’ otherwise known as GR de Pays in France. These are longer distance, often circular walking itineraries which have been designed to enable you to really discover the area. On the blue IGN maps, you will see them marked as red lines with often the words ‘Tour de…’ alongside.
In France there are over 60,000 kms of walking paths that are designated ‘grande randonnées’ or GRs. These are indicated by red and white markings and are usually point to point waymarked itineraries. They walking routes are designed to be completed over a matter of weeks rather than days. Some people however do sections at a time. One of the most widely known and most adventurous is the GR10 which crosses the Pyrenees from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.
So, to summarise, yellow markings indicate a short local walking itinerary for which you can get the details from the local tourist information office. Red and yellow indicate a longer regional loop for which details will again be available from tourist info. Red and white indicate a long distance walking itinerary designed to be completed over a longer period of days or weeks.
Walking in France – where to head for
France has some beautiful areas for you to explore if you are a keen walker and there is a wide range of accommodation from which to choose from. However, by staying in a bed and breakfast you will benefit from local advice and guidance on choosing an appropriate walking itinerary as well as a wealth of local knowledge that will enable you to make the most from your stay.
Stay at this B&B in the Couserans area of the Ariege Pyrenees and explore sections of the GR10 as well as numerous other mountain or lower level walks in the most beautiful setting. Go in October. The autumn colours in the Pyrenees are beautiful.
Or go self-catering on the edge of the Ecrins National Park in the southern French Alps and benefit from the knowledge of sports mad Marine who knows her area intimately and is full of advice
The Auvergne is a wonderful destination if you like your walking holidays unspoilt and peaceful. Head for the Livradois Forez National Park where the wildflowers are amazing and the wildlife interesting and varied. Wendy has made her home here and is passionate about this wild and beautiful area. She’s looking forward to sharing it with you