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, 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
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
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
Torres del Paine Ultimate Luxury

Stay in the most exclusive lodge in Torres del Paine with outstanding cuisine, views of the towers from your isolated villa and with the luxury of a private guide, vehicle and driver so you have complete freedom to explore at…

  • 5 Days
  • $6,160
W Trek: Heart of Torres

This trip turns the W Trek into a series of shorter day hikes, with a perfectly-located hotel in the heart of the the national park as your base. Experience the three main W Trek hikes as an integral part of…

  • 5 Days
  • $4,500
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
  • $5,736
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
  • $2,565
South America - Southern Explorer

This fantastic, privately guided trip takes you through stunning Southern Patagonia, staying in comfortable hotels along the way. You'll visit all the spectacular, iconic sights while hiking through Torres del Paine National Park, getting up close to the immense Perito…

  • 10 Days
  • -
W Trek from a Luxury Lodge

Don't just trek the W-Trek, do it from comfort and in style. Stay at one of the best all-inclusive lodges in Patagonia, whilst each day completing a leg of the W Trek: Glacier Grey, the French Valley and the epic…

  • 5 Days
  • $5,320
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
  • $3,195
The Original Torres del Paine W Trek

Hike the original W Trek and experience the highlights of this unique region. Trek to the best lookout points for stunning views of the Torres del Paine and explore the French Valley surrounded by hanging glaciers. Follow this with a…

  • 5 Days
  • $2,595