Valle Frances

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 two 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.

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Map of Valle Frances

Nearby landmarks

Trips that visit Valle Frances

W Trek in Winter

Our expert guides make it possible to follow the majority of the W Trek and experience its highlights in the beautiful winter months of Patagonia, despite of chillier conditions and limited services. Based in Torres del Paine's famous refugios, you'll…

  • 5 Days
  • $2,295
5-Day W Trek from Serrano Base Camp

Discover Torres del Paine's extraordinary W Trek on a series of fantastic day-hikes, each taking in stunning panoramic views. Enjoy a boat trip to the immense face of Glacier Grey and spend a day watching wildlife, hopefully spotting the elusive…

  • 5 Days
  • $2,795
W Trek, 3 days

This trip fits Torres del Paine's highlights into a short timeframe. Trek up close to the famous granite towers, the mesmerising French Valley and the shimmering blue ice of Glacier Grey. Expert guides, deluxe tent accommodation, pre-arranged transfers and meals…

  • 3 Days
  • $1,795
The Classic Full Circuit

This route is the fastest way to complete the full Torres del Paine circuit at great value. Trek through the isolated northern side of the park, over the infamous John Gardner Pass with the ice field beneath you and back…

  • 7 Days
  • $2,995
Glamping W Trek

Discover Torres del Paine's famous treks with expert guides, combining refugios with comfortable and unique accommodation. Trek to Los Cuernos, explore the French Valley and hike to the famous viewpoint at the base of the Towers, whilst also visiting the…

  • 7 Days
  • $2,795
W Trek Glamping Highlights

Hike Torres del Paine's famous W Trek in a dynamic manner with expert guides, whilst basing yourself in unique accommodation in the heart of the park. Trek the stunning French Valley, to the base of the iconic Towers and visit…

  • 5 Days
  • $2,015
W Trek Luxury Adventure Retreat

Tailor each day of this trip to suit you by choosing from a selection of small group excursions to Torres del Paine's most famous sights and lesser-known gems. Enjoy some solid days of hiking, or more leisurely strolls, and return…

  • 5 Days
  • $5,300
Safari in Southern Patagonia

You choose the activities and pace during this multi-day experience at an eco-friendly camp in the heart of Torres del Paine. Daily small group excursions for all abilities are offered, with expert guides to support you. From tough trekking to…

  • 5 Days
  • $2,070
Fitz Roy and Paine Hiking Tour

This small group trekking tour combines the best hikes in Patagonia: Torres del Paine W Trek, Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. Discover Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park by boat expedition. Our tour leader and expert guides ensure…

  • 12 Days
  • $5,495
Explore Torres del Paine in Winter from a Luxury Lodge

Experience the stunning beauty of winter in Torres del Paine National Park from an all-inclusive luxury lodge. This flexible trip, with a choice of daily excursions, offers relaxed to challenging trekking and horse-riding. At the end of each day you…

  • 5 Days
  • $2,850
Self-guided W Trek

Hike the original W Trek independently and experience the highlights of this unique region at your own pace. Trek to the best lookout points for stunning views of the magnificent Torres del Paine National Park without the worry of having…

  • 5 Days
  • $1,795