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Publié le 02 octobre 2023

Hike with the FFRandonnée!

Outdoor sports and activities, including hiking, are extremely popular with the French population, with 56% of French people claiming to take part in hiking and/or leisure walking. Hiking leads the rankings with 27 million people walking up and down routes on the plains, in the mountains or along the coast [1].

The Fédération Française de Randonnée Pédestre has a delegation from the Ministry of Sport for the practice of hiking, for which it defines standards. It is also a member of the European Ramblers Association (ERA).

“Hiking is an outdoor physical or sporting activity that consists of planning and travelling a route on foot, without running. It can be practised on any surface that allows walking without the use of equipment and/or progression techniques associated with mountaineering. This pedestrian route may or may not be marked with beacons and signposts.”


[1] A study conducted by the UNION Sport & Cycle on behalf of the Fédération Française de Randonnée Pédestre, December 2021

Types of practice

It varies according to the objectives:

  • A physical or sporting activity requiring fitness, assessment of environmental hazards and appropriate equipment, for individual or group practice;
  • An educational and leisure activity that allows you to discover and learn about the territory, the environment and the natural, cultural and human heritage ;
  • A competitive activity, codified in rules for Rando challenge® events or endurance walking (Audax patents), which allows the ranking of individuals and structures.

Its designations vary depending on the duration of the practice. Several designations, corresponding to the previous definition, express the different forms of practice according to the duration of the effective walking time:

  • A walk is a pedestrian route completed in less than 4 hours of effective walking time (maximum effort index of 25)[2] ;
  • A hike is a walking route where the effective walking time is more than 4 hours (effort index from 26) ; 
  • A long-distance hike is a walking route where the effective walking time is several consecutive days of travelling (effort index from 26 repeated over several days). If the hike takes place in remote areas or at altitude, it is called trekking.

[2] - L’indice d’effort (Hiking index) est un des trois critères de la cotation fédérale des randonnées pédestres disponible sur https://www.ffrandonnee.fr/randonner/securite/cotation-des-randonnees-pedestres 

Hikers and hiking

Although there are a large number of hikers and leisure walkers, 46% of them walk regularly, i.e. around 12 million people.

Even though most people walk independently, they still do so regularly, with 25% claiming to walk several times a week[3].

The FFRandonnée is a state-approved organisation whose main mission is to develop walking and hiking activities throughout France. It has nearly 3,500 affiliated clubs with more than 222,000 members.

Related disciplines

  • Aqua Walking
  • Endurance Hiking

Article L131-14 of the French Sports Code states that for each sporting discipline and for a given period, a single approved federation receives a delegation from the Ministry of Sport. The Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre (FFRandonnée) is the sports federation delegated for the disciplines of hiking and Aqua Walking by a decree dated 31 December 2016.

Finally, article L311-2 of the French Sports Code states that " the delegated sports federations or, failing that, the approved sports federations may define, for their own discipline, the standards for the technical classification, safety and equipment of areas, sites and routes related to outdoor sports". The federation has created a federal guide “Practising, Supervising, Organising”. These regulations include rules and recommendations for participants, supervisors and organisers of sporting activities.

[3] A study conducted by the UNION Sport & Cycle on behalf of the Fédération Française de Randonnée Pédestre, December 2021