Increase your Green Health by Hiking in Isère, France

Isère showcases national parks and regional reserves, and these are big draws for fans of gorgeous forests and stunning mountains. Holidays in the region have the power to calm, reset and revive. Come summer, a vast open-air landscape reveals itself with intense blue lakes and Alpine meadows covered in flowers. The extensive mountain scenery makes Isère a perfect place to stretch those legs with its 9,000 km of certified and waymarked hiking trails. There are all sorts of walks – from a chilled stroll with a donkey to downright gnarly routes.

The experts call it Green Health, proclaiming that spending time in nature can lower cortisol levels, reducing anxiety and blood pressure while boosting the immune system and mental health. There have been many reports and articles supporting this idea, including a recent piece by the British Heart Foundation. So pull on those hiking boots and start exploring the many walking paths (matched with accommodation) whilst connecting with the great outdoors.

NEW: Hiking without a car with Alpes Là
The Grenoble-based association, Alpes Là!, in partnership with Isère Attractivité, has created a guide containing 50 ideas for hikes in Isère, all without a car. Produced in collaboration with mountain guides, this book highlights many options mainly in the Isère massif. The association identifies buses or trains that reach the start of any hike. Walking enthusiasts will be pleased to find routes available for all levels and lengths.

Escape into the Wild & Unusual
This itinerary in the Chartreuse offers a beautiful and easily accessible route (medium level of hiking) for a timeless six-day journey. The “Escaping into the wild and unusual” tour introduces hikers to the secrets of the Chartreuse with a qualified guide, expect unique landscapes, traces of history, tales of life in the past, a visit to the recently renovated Grande Chartreuse Museum, exploring the Echelles caves, seeing the Sardinian Way and more. The hike is suitable from 12 years old, for those travelling solo, or as a family / with friends. Book the Comfort Trip and the accommodation providers will organise transport for the luggage. Six nights/seven days from €855 / £735 pp

Eco-responsible Freedom Hike
This Chartreuse tour has been designed with the utmost respect for the environment: a welcome by the tour creator, overnight stays at accommodation with the ‘Accueil du Parc’ label, meals made with local-seasonal products, and using public transport. The Vagabondages d’Exception tours promote local living and considers environmental impact. Sharing these values means that each hiker can play an active part in sustainability. This tour starts in the small town of Voiron before crossing the ancient border between Savoie and France to reach the heart of the Chartreuse mountains. This seven nights/eight days loop tour costs from €745 / £640 pp on a half-board basis and runs until October.

Hardy Hikers – GR54 Guided Tour of the Ecrins
This summer, Cyril Valois, a mountain guide based in Bourg d’Oisans, offers a 13-day trek along the GR54 Grande Randonnee, also known as the Tour of the Ecrins, with nights in a tent under the stars. In the heart of the Écrins National Park, the GR54 is a splendid hike passing the foot of the highest peaks in the massif: La Meije, Les Agneaux, Le Sirac, La Muzelle to name but a few. Camping equipment is provided (tents, 0°C duvets and mattresses, cooking equipment and walking poles) so everyone is self-sufficient. Walk six or seven hours for 13 consecutive days with a 15 kg pack and spend nights in tents in the wilderness. An exceptional itinerary if ever there was one, but it is accessible to any hiker in good physical condition (who doesn’t mind a lack of hot showers). Dates: From 7–19 July 2023 & 23 July – 4 August 2023. Price: €890 / £765 pp, group size from five to eight people.

Local produce hike
Tour Gourmand can be a three to five-day self-guided hike from Saint-Christophe to discover the Ecrins with 15.5 hours of hiking. Explore the Vénéon valley and its culinary specialities between refuges, stopover at gites and local hotels, and become immersed in the heart of the Ecrins National Park. Prices include accommodation in dorms on full board (dinner, overnight stay, breakfast and picnic) throughout summer until mid-September. A three-day stay costs from €128 / £110, a four-day stay costs from €185 / £159. The tour is English spoken.

Grand tour du Vercors and the Traversée des Hauts Plateaux
Thanks to the overwhelming success of this 410 km hiking trail and all its subsidiaries, the GTV on foot had a makeover last year. The route has been slightly modified and is now divided into 22 stages. While the complete hike lasts about three weeks, anyone can break it up into smaller sections depending on what they want to do: from one day on one stage, a weekend, a week, discover this majestic limestone citadel and explore its natural and cultural treasures along the way. The classic three-day Traversée des Hauts-Plateaux is 52.5 km from Corrençon to Châtillon-en-Diois with wild camping.

The “Au fil de la Bourne” path along the Bourne River
The Bourne is the most significant river in the Vercors and the first river in the massif. Enjoy two or three days of hiking from the river’s confluence with the Isère – the “Au fil de la Bourne” trail follows the watercourse between the lowlands and the mountain plateau. Spot aqueducts, Himalayan footbridges and suspended houses. Visit the Choranche cave, Cirque de Bournillon cliffs and the Bourne gorges. Numerous viewpoints dot the route, and stopping to enjoy a snack from a local producer engages families as well as experienced hikers who can create their own itinerary thanks to the hundreds of kilometres of marked paths. Accessible by train, bike or car, this is an opportunity to discover the riches of a medium-sized mountain area. From Saint-Nazaire-en-Royans to Rencurel is 32 km.

Donkey hiking and camping
This is an immersive nature experience with a panoramic view of the Trièves plateau and the Dévoluy mountains, crossing the picturesque village of Mens. Donkeys carry the equipment, or the youngest children, on this guided hike with overnight camping. This trip includes one night in a tent at the foot of the Châtel mountain, a guide, donkeys, sleeping equipment and organic meals. Available until 15 October and costs from €150 / £129 per adult and from €100 / £86 per child (under 15 years old). Alternatively, a family (two adults, two children) costs from €450 / £387.

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