Treat altitude with respect
, especially around Mont Blanc, although most hikes on the Tour de Mont Blanc are not affected. But if you doing the ascent, experts recommend three nights spent at an altitude above 2,500/3,000m beforehand. See our Mont Blanc travel guide
for more details.
Stay warm in the mountains. The temperatures can dip very quickly, so be prepared.
Stay protected from the sun on all walking vacations, in the mountains or by the Med.
Generally, France is a picture of health: the tap water is safe to drink, and there are no nasty diseases lurking about. You don’t need vaccinations to visit, although the WHO does recommend that all travelers to every destination be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio.
The French healthcare system is one of the best in the world though all services, including doctors’ consultations, prescribed medicines, hospital stays and ambulance call-outs, incur a charge which you have to pay upfront. The standard rate for a consultation is between £19.50 - £31.50.
Comprehensive travel insurance to cover medical problems is highly recommended, but some policies exclude ‘dangerous’ activities such as high level trekking, so make sure you read the small print.
If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, holding a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will ensure reduced-cost state-provided healthcare cover for any medical treatment that you may need in France, but each family member will need a separate card. You can download an application form here.
Make sure you stay hydrated. Particularly if you are on a family walking vacation, as it is hard to get kids to drink water sometimes, but they won’t realise how much they need it when walking. Even if the sun isn’t shining. Consider hydration backpacks, such as CamelBak, so that they have water on them at all times.
Be wary of touching animals while hiking, especially wild cats and dogs, as rabies still exists, although rare in France. Although generally there is no risk, there is a low risk in the Loire and Rhone-Alpes.
Be wary of ticks when hiking in France as they carry Lyme disease. Make sure you carry tweezers so that you can remove them and be sure to inspect your bodies carefully at the end of the day. Always apply a deterrent (a natural one is best for children such as lemon eucalyptus) and then sun cream.