The main hiking club in France is the internationally-known Club Alpin Français. If you're planning on extensive hiking in France (other than the occasional small village hikes), it would be a good idea to check out the CAF, for the availability of information and the possibility of hiking insurance.
Club Alpin Français (C.A.F.)
Valuable information, maps, and hiking insurance.
Address: 14 ave. Mirabeau, Nice, 06000
Tel: (33) 493 62 59 99
Fax: (33) 493 92 09 55
Website CAF Nice: http://www.cafnice.org/
Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre (FFRP)
This French Hiking organization publishes excellent guide books for Grande Randonnée (GR) hikes. The small books are informative and descriptive, and contain maps and photos.
9, rue Geoffroy-Marie
Tel: (33) 145 45 31 02; Fax: (33) 143 95 68 07
The refuges run by the Club Alpin Français (CAF) are often spaced about a day's hike apart, allowing multi-day hikes with a refuge stop every night. But, reservations are required.
Reserving by telephone is allowed, but it's often difficult to contact the gardiens. In any case, the gardien requires you to send a reservation letter, at least 3 weeks in advance.
You can find a form letter on the CAF Alpes-Maritimes website (www.cafnice.org/cafbase/refuges.php?type=reservations).
This form requests from you:
Name of the person making the reservation;
Date you want to reserve; Number of persons;
Do you want meals;
Do you want picnics;
Description of your route.
You need to join 8.00 € per person per day, with the check made out to the name of the gardien, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope. You are advised to arrive with check or cash, as the refuge does not accept credit cards or bank cards.