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.
Find out more about...
Photos of Valle Frances
Map of Valle Frances
Trips that visit Valle Frances
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
Tackle Patagonia's most iconic circuit trail, fully supported with porters and a local guide. Cross the John Gardner Pass, explore the park's remote northern sections, revel in the stunning French Valley and finish at the Towers viewpoint – this itinerary…
- 9 Days
Stay in a secluded, all-inclusive luxury yurt camp where you'll wake each morning in a forest overlooking Patagonia's stunning Toro Lake. Journey through breath-taking scenery to complete world-famous hikes and other activities in Torres del Paine while being looked after…
- 6 Days
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…
- 4 Days
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
This action-packed small group trekking tour combines the best hikes in Patagonia: Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks. Discover Perito Moreno Glacier on a boat expedition, enter Paine by zodiac boat and celebrate your final night in an…
- 12 Days
Combine fantastic day hikes around the Fitz Roy massif in Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park with the famous W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. All travel, border crossings and accommodation is included and arranged for you,…
- 11 Days