How about a trail run through the esplanade and park of the Château de Pierrefonds, an architectural gem and masterpiece designed by Viollet-le-Duc? The trail starts off through the forest before passing through the town to finish. It’s held in January with a choice of two routes (8 miles and 17 miles), including one for walkers.
01. Trail du Château de Pierrefonds
02. Trail des Pyramides noires
Embark upon an adventure in the UNESCO-classified Mining Bassin and summit the pyramids of Northern France: the famous slag heaps! The trail des pyramides noires includes four running routes (14 miles to 68 miles) and a hiking route (14 miles) whose varied elevation is rather rare for the Hauts-de-France region! Held in May.
03. Trail du Val Joly
The Trail du Val Joly is set amongst the picturesque surroundings of the Ardennes foothills, passing around a 180-hectare lake that itself is surrounded by a 2,000-hectare forest. It takes place in early March, but if you’re not free then, the routes can be accessed all year round from the Val Joly tourist resort for running or hiking.
04. Nord Trail Monts de Flandres
Set off from Bailleul and rove the medley of small hills that populate French Flanders: Mont Boeschèpe, Mont Noir and Mont des Cats. But that’s not all: because you’ll also be crossing the Belgian border if you brave the two longest runs of the Nord Trail Monts de Flandres.
The view from atop the peaks is nothing short of magical. Immerse yourself in a bucolic paradise as you zig-zag across the rolling countryside of the Monts de Flandre. Held in April, with routes ranging from 17 miles to 50 miles.
05. La Transbaie
The Transbaie takes you across one of the world’s most beautiful bays with a fantastic atmosphere to boot with.
Starting out from Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, you’ll make your way to Le Crotoy before returning almost the same way… before the tide catches up! Sand, sludge, water, fancy dress costumes and heaps of fun! Bring your friends for a weekend in the bay of Somme.
06. Trail de la Côte d'Opale
All the routes start from Wissant beach, which is an impressive 7.5 miles long! Fine sand, dunes, shingles, wind (no one wants it to be too easy) and, most importantly, breath-taking views of the sea and the cliffs of the Cap Gris-Nez and Cap Blanc-Nez, both classified as Grand Sites de France. A crisp and ocean-fresh experience you won’t find anywhere else.
The wide variety of routes for trail running, hiking or Nordic walking range from 4 miles to 53 miles, meaning there’s something for everyone. Takes place in September.
07. L'Arena Terril Trail
The Arena Terril Trail is a unique trail stadium for learning, having fun and training. It has built on the Noyelles-sous-Lens slag heap and includes steps, ramps, slides, a cross-fit area and an elevation training zone. A must-visit for trail runners of all abilities.
08. – Urban Trails galore
Valenciennes, Lille, Lens, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Arras, Saint-Quentin, Amiens, Beauvais… the list goes on! Urban trails turn the concept of trail running on its head, offering a great way to explore a town or city, often with friends or family.
And there are an infinite number of possibilities to tailor your route to your interests and difficulty level: run up steps or across parks, hop over objects, sprint down streets or cross through businesses, museums and train stations…
09. Collines d’Opale – Pays de Lumbres Trail running resort
The station de Trail® des collines d’Opale – Pays de Lumbres is a trail running resort open all year round with nine hiking routes and six running routes! The limestone hills and mountains make for one very rugged landscape and provide the perfect setting for improving your times while making the most of the great outdoors!
10. Grand Trail des Hauts-de-France through the night
Explore the hills of Artois with six running routes from 5 miles to 51 miles and two hiking routes of 9 miles and 19 miles. Starting from Liévin, you’ll climb slag heaps and cross lands only known by locals, from the Mining Basin to the Lorette hills. The experience is made even more thrilling by the fact it takes place mainly through the night! Held in late October.