The south of France has become famous for the French Riviera, its beautiful beaches and of course the warm climate. Thousands of tourists each year head to hotspots such as Cannes, Nice and St.Tropez for the glitz, glamour, and of course delicious food, and who can blame them, who doesn’t love food and the sun?
But the south of France is more than the above, it’s also home to some of the best outdoor adventure locations across Europe.
The Ardeche region in southern-central France is considered to be one of the most scenic areas of France and an outdoor enthusiasts paradise. Its rolling hills, forests, open moorlands, and the Gorges of the Ardeche make it the perfect area for a wide range of adventure activities.
The most popular activity in the area is to descend the ‘Gorges de l’Ardèche’ by kayak. You can paddle down the meandering river negotiating numerous rapids while surrounded by 300m high cliffs, passing under the famous Pont d’Arc, a 54m high and 60m wide natural arch. It’s known as the natural entrance to the ‘Gorges de l’Ardèche’ and is prominently featured in most photos of the Arhèche region.
If being on the water is not your cup of tea then there are plenty more adventure activities you can participate in. Another popular activity in the Ardeche region is rock climbing. Thanks to the high limestone gorges and granite mountains there are plenty of opportunities to test yourself whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert.
The Pyrenees mountain range is located in the south-west of the country and forms a natural border between Spain and France. While the Pyrenees is a year-round destination, it really comes alive in the summer months once the snow has melted and the mercury rises.
Hiking is extremely popular with trails covering the stunning mountain range, with its alpine forest and meadows to the mesmerizing mirror lakes. From gentle strolls to long multiple-day treks there are endless possibilities for hiking in this region. Some of the more popular trails are the Grande Route 10 and of course the famous El Camino Santiago which starts in the Pyrenees.
If you fancy more of an adrenaline rush then why not give canyoning a try. Put on your wetsuit and jump into the rushing mountain rivers, making your way downstream by whatever means possible. Swimming, jumping, abseiling or even flying down a water chute there are endless ways to get to the finish line and once it’s over we’re sure you’d want to do it all again.
Once you’ve finished canyoning head underground and explore the limestone cave system running under the Pyrenees. You can go from deep, mud-filled caverns to scrambling through crevices not much wider than your shoulders to abseiling down vertical potholes. Some parts are challenging but there are areas that are less technical for beginners.
The French Riviera
The Mediterranean Sea off the French Riviera coast offers great conditions for water sports enthusiasts. Due to the windy, warm conditions kitesurfing has become a mainstream sport in the south of France and because of this, there kitesurfing schools and training camps set up to learn or improve your skills. They also rent out any equipment you may need.
Sailing and windsurfing are also two very popular water sports that draw people to the French Riviera, and like Kitesurfing, windsurfing centers have popped up everywhere, and likewise rent out all the equipment you will need. Along with the already three mentioned water sports, sea kayaking, scuba diving, and jet ski also draw visitors to the area due to its popularity.
How to get there and where to stay
The south of France is easily assessable with low-cost airlines flying from destinations across Europe and beyond. The two main airports are Nice and Marseille. Getting there by train or road are other easy, viable options.