If anything, these unprecedented times have simply reminded us that being outdoors is the way to go. As if being children once again were when we were only at home to sleep, eat and do our homework; The main lesson of 2020 for us is that: Reconnecting with nature and the great outdoors while exploring our surroundings is one of the safest ways to have fun and play the travel game right now.
One of the best destinations to do so in Southern Europe, enjoying a unique setting between the Mediterranean sea and the always mighty Southern Alps with nice weather year-round is Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
I was lucky enough to live for a few months in the nearby cozy village of Pézenas while studying a BTS in Tourism through the University of Montpellier when I was in my 20s. Every weekend I’d go somewhere along the stunning coast uncovering gems as Marseille, St. Tropez, Nice, and Monaco. Such fun I had there that I’ve been wanting to return ever since to deeply explore the region beyond its main tourist hubs.
Without further ado, here are 10 outdoor adventures in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur I cannot wait to experience:
- Explore a scenic route by bike
- Hit the slopes
- Go kayaking
- Climb at Montagne Sainte-Victoire National Park
- Hike a few trails here and there
- Take in the scenery from a glamping site
- Go birdwatching
- Join a Luberon wine tasting experience in Valeurs Parc Naturel Régional
- Admire Forcalquier’s stunning lavender fields from a hot air balloon
- Try canyoning at the Gorges du Verdon
Explore a scenic route by bike
Whether or not you have grown up watching the most famous cycling competition of its time, the wonderful Tour de France; you will be with us in that this country has a je ne sais quoi with this sport.
Here are some of the most interesting routes to explore this region by bike arranged according to their length:
- Voie Verte de la Via Venaissia from Jonquières to Carpentras (14km)
- Route des Clues from Verdaches to Digne-les-Bains (30km), location of the Unesco Géoparc de Haute-Provence
- Voie Verte du Calavon from Coustellet to la Paraire (37km)
- The Montagne de Chabre through the Gorges de la Méouge, round route from Laragne-Montéglin (65km)
- Alpilles-Crau-Camargue by bike, round trip from Fontvieille (77km)
- The Coastal Cycle Path from Six-Fours to St-Raphaël (120km)
- The Tour of the Côtes-du-Rhône from Orange to Rochegude (120-210km)
Hit the slopes
Pra-Loup was the first ski resort outside my home country I was lucky to spend some time in.
From then on, I was hooked on the French Alps. These are some of the best areas for winter sports in this region:
- Vars-Risoul-La Forêt Blanche
- Orcières Merlette 1850
- Puy Saint Vincent
- Isola 2000
- Centre Nordique du Boréon
- Col du Lautaret
You need to watch this 360 video of Col du Lautaret:
You can start with white water kayaking through the Gorges de Daluis. Another great option would be sea kayaking in Calanques National Park, a must for all outdoors lovers who visit Bouches-du-Rhône.
Climb at Montagne Sainte-Victoire National Park
Perhaps it is only for experienced climbers, in any case climbing with these views can only turn out to be a unique experience and, if it is not possible to do it climbing, walking through this National Park is sure to be great too.
Hike a few trails here and there
Broadly known as one of the top European destinations for hiking and trekking, this Southern France region has trails to suit every type of hiker.
These are some of the best hikes in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur:
- La Maralpine in the Préalpes d’Azur
- Port-Cros National Park from Hyères to Giens Peninsula
- Vésubie Valley in Mercantour National Park
- Chemin des Venturiers in Montagne Sainte-Victoire
- Réserve Naturelle de Ristolas-Mont-Viso in the Parc Naturel Régional du Queyras
- Parc du Luberon: The best options to explore its rocky landscapes are Sentier des Ocres from Roussillon, Colorado Provençal in Rustrel, and the mines of Bruoux in Gargas.
- Pré de Madame Carle and Tour du Combeynot in Écrins National Park
- Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon
- and the coolest of them all: The underwater Mediterranean trails in Ramatuelle, Port-Cros, Hyères, and Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer
Take in the scenery from a glamping site
You guys know how much we love to include some glamping sites on our outdoor adventures.
There’s nothing like getting a good night’s sleep after a full day outside, and these accommodations usually enjoy some of the quietest and coziest locations to do just so. These are a couple of places we’d love to stay in soon:
- Cabanes du Varon treehouses in Flayosc
- Mas Kailash tents in Bargemon
In the reserve des Marais du Vigueirat that belongs to the Camargue Regional Nature Reserve.
Well known worldwide for being an annual stop in the migratory movements of birds from northern Europe to Africa, this park is one of the best places in the world for bird lovers.
Based on a true story and shot there, the recent movie ‘Spread your wings’ is a great introduction to the area:
Join a Luberon wine tasting experience in Valeurs Parc Naturel Régional
Bonus points if the wines are paired with local delicacies.
Is there anything better than a good picnic in good company among the vineyards? Simply the perfect setting to channeling your joie-de-vivre!
Admire Forcalquier’s stunning lavender fields from a hot air balloon
These iconic fields are supposed to be in peak bloom around mid-July but since that can change, it is recommended to check when the lavender season is bound to start before planning your trip.
In any case, a hot air balloon ride at sunrise or sunset seems like a terrific way to admire them. Are you with us?
Try canyoning at the Gorges du Verdon
With 25km long and walls of up to 700 meters, the Verdon Gorge river canyon is the ideal place to practice many adrenaline sports. From climbing to kayaking, via ferratas, rafting, and canyoning, this spectacular landscape is ideal to say goodbye to this region.
Do you know of any other outdoor adventures in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur we should add to the list? Get in touch via email: aworldtotravel @ gmail . com