France self-guided walking is both the present and the future, with guided walking tours having become unfashionable for several reasons:
- People coming from all over the world find it almost impossible to have holidays on the same dates, and so open-enrolment group tours are often cancelled at the last minute because the quorum [minimum number of walkers] has not been met. Of course the companies say the tour will take place, to try to reassure potential customers, but very often they don’t – and the customer is left high and dry. Tickets but nowhere to walk!
- A group of strangers is heterogenous – i.e., multifarious interests, cultures, staminas, walking speeds, foibles and so on. From experience, it is very difficult to please everyone, so such tours are reduced to satisfying the lowest common denominator – which in fact pleases no-one. Their aches and pains become yours and injuries hinder progress and interrupt your enjoyment. Inter-group conflict often occurs and the phenomenon known in professional walking circles as ‘the infantilisation of the group’ can be at best a nuisance and at worst a real danger.
- Guided tours are only popular in uncertain, ‘wild’ and off-the-beaten-track destinations. Under those circumstances, a group can be comforting and a leader important.
- Guided tours are also popular where navigation is complex or even dangerous – unmarked trails, mountainous terrain, where special equipment is required and where storms are frequent. Needless to say, none of the above relates to the type of walking trips we offer.
The advantages of self-guided walking are:
- You agree amongst yourselves the start and finish dates that your own self-composed group wants. Your tour is guaranteed to take place and start any day of the week that is convenient for you – subject to hotel availability.
- Enjoy your hiking and socializing in the company of friends and like-minded people of your own choosing – and walk at your own pace.
- France is an extremely safe country – no moose, bears or stalking wild animals and so on; we welcome many single women onto our tours.
- French trails are generally well marked and maintained. We pride ourselves in empowering people to walk alone or with friends and many of our customers have never walked on organized tours before. No particular map-reading or compass skills are required. Our notes are specially designed to make orientation easy. We can supply you with a phone if required [for emergency use only] and our discreet support network [24/7 phone help-line manned by native-English speakers that are located in France] is close at hand if required. We have never lost anyone to date and we don’t plan to start with you!
- And, of course, your luggage is carried by us from inn to inn, so you just carry a light day bag.
France self-guided walking is where it’s at – as one of our sources of inspiration, Sir Paul McCartney, would undoubtedly say over a beer after a gig from his ‘Get out there!’ tour. Does the above assuage any fears you may have about a self-guided walking holidays in France with The Enlightened Traveller? We sincerely hope so!
© The Enlightened Traveller 2018
Click to visit The French Hiker’s Guide to Holidaying in the Hexagon and France self-guided walking, trips, trails, places & themes.