Where to find it
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
What is it?
Valle Frances (the French Valley) is a deep valley between mountains in Torres del Paine, and is one of the main hiking attractions in the national park. It is dominated by a magnificent hanging glacier, Glaciar Frances, beech forests and the French River.
It takes roughly 2 hours to trek into the valley before you get your first glimpse of the glacier, and you can hear the rumble of small avalanches in the distance and watch ice calving from its face.
How can I see it?
You will hike the French Valley on Torres del Paine's two most famous multi-day hikes, the Full Circuit and the W Trek. It's also possible to do it as a day hike as part of a series of day trips in Torres del Paine, returning to a comfortable base each night.
On the Full Circuit you typically approach the French Valley from the east, starting from the nearest refugio, Paine Grande. On the W Trek you'd most likely start from the west, trekking from nearby Refugio los Cuernos. The weather is famously temperamental here, and a thick mist can descend making it impossible to reach the end of the valley. However if you do make it up to the end of the valley, expect spectacular views of Cerro Cota (2000m) and Cerro Catedral (2200m), a mountain which is said to resemble a cathedral facade.
Find out more about...
Photos of Valle Frances
Map of Valle Frances
Trips that visit Valle Frances
Hiking from a Luxurious Base
This trip give you the freedom and flexibility to explore the areas of the park you choose, when you want, at a pace that suits you. Stay in the most exclusive lodge in Patagonia with outstanding service and cuisine and…
- 5 Days
Paine Circuit Half and Half
A mix of guided and unguided hiking. You walk the well-marked W Trek unaided, meet your guide for the tougher northern section on Day 4 and head on to the John Garner Pass with the unmatched views of Grey Glacier…
- 8 Days
Self-Guided W + The Bader Valley
Independent exploration and trekking around Torres del Paine's classic "W", followed by a guided hike into one of the Park's quieter and more restricted valleys. This W+Bader adventure combines the best of both: autonomous discovery and local…
- 6 Days
The Original Torres del Paine W Trek
The most popular way to experience what might just be Patagonia's best hiking. Great local guides, small groups, moderate comfort in refugios and an efficient itinerary help you get the most out of your time. Great for solo travellers or…
- 5 Days
Torres del Paine Winter Adventure
Our expert guides make it possible to follow the majority of the W route and experience its highlights in the winter months, in spite of chillier conditions and limited services. You'll have the snow-covered park almost all to yourself -…
- 5 Days
W With Luxury
Tailor each day of this trip to suit you by choosing from a selection of excursions to Torres del Paine's most famous sights and lesser-known gems. Enjoy some solid days of hiking, or more leisurely strolls, and unwind afterwards with…
- 5 Days
9 Day Torres del Paine circuit
The only full circuit route where porters carry the camping gear, leaving you to take the John Gardner pass and the park's wilder northern sections with just a day pack. We recommend an upgrade to dome accommodation on certain nights…
- 9 Days
Luxury Camp W Trek
Paine's most famous trek from the base of a relaxed, friendly geodesic dome camp for 4 of the 6 nights. Hike with expert guides and only a day pack, returning to a comfortable bed, a wood-burning stove and en suite…
- 7 Days
Safari in Southern Patagonia
A flexible, multi-day itinerary with a sociable eco-friendly camp as your base. Daily excursion options for all abilities with expert guides to support you. Return to a comfortable bed, wood burning stove and en suite bathroom. Meals and transfers from/to…
- 4 Days
W Highlights from Luxury Camp
The highlights of Torres del Paine's most famous trek, from the base of a relaxed, friendly geodesic dome camp for 3 of 4 nights. Hike with expert guides and only a day pack, returning to a comfortable bed, wood burning…
- 5 Days
South America - Wild Patagonia
An epic, in-depth group tour of Patagonia, combining trips to Huerquehue National Park, the Queulat glacier, an isolated fishing village, a working estancia in Argentina and a king penguin colony in Tierra del Fuego, Torres del Paine, El Chalten and…
- 27 Days