When you think about Provence, images of endless fields of lavender come into mind. If you close your eyes you can even imagine you are there, in the middle of them, surrounded by the lavish scent of the flowers. But Provence is more than lavender and there are so many things to do in this beautiful part of France. Provence has rolling hills covered with vineyards, has pine forests, alpine valleys, deep gorges, olive tree farms and a stunning azure sea that gives its name to the entire coast stretching from Marseille to Nice and Monaco: Cote D’Azur.
With such a varied landscape, no wonder that Provence is a dream for every outdoors lover. And here is a list with the best of them:
Visit the lavender fields of Provence
Of course, I had to start my list with the beautiful lavender fields which stretch for miles, farm next to farm, around Luberon. The lavender season is between June and August, but if you want to have a better experience, come around July, when the sunflowers are in full bloom as well. Imagine fields or purple and yellow, one next another. The perfect Instagram shot!
Lavender is used to produce many different things, from cosmetics, to foods and even drinks. All summer long there are festivals dedicated to the blue gold of Provence, as lavender is also called in France. Whichever you choose to go to, you will indulge in a world of lavender honey, chocolate, ice cream, tea and syrups. Following the roads around Luberon you will pass by quite a few lavender distilleries, if you fancy learning about the lavender oil extraction process.
One of the most beautiful spots to photograph lavender from is the Notre-Dame the Senanque, with its Cistercian Abbey built in 1148. The site is still a functioning church and not a touristic place, so visitors are advised to be respectful and do not disturb the service.
Here are a few lavender tours to check out:
Snorkel in the Calanques National Park
In French, Calanque means cove, and knowing this you can imagine that this National Park includes both mountains and sea. There are plenty of wonderful hiking opportunities here that will eventually end up next to the water and you will have the perfect opportunity to take a swim and relax after all the effort you’ve done so far.
Calanques National Park can be explored by foot, hiking along the coast and enjoying the breath-taking views over the azure sea, or from the water, looking up towards the cliffs. From the sea you can also explore the little hidden caves, otherwise invisible to the naked eye.
You can explore the national park on your own or take different tours focused on different activities such as:
Explore the gorges of Verdon
Verdon is another area of stunning beauty from the South of France. For a nature lover, Verdon is a little paradise with plenty of things to do such as hiking, mountain biking, climbing, river rafting, paragliding, and much more, depending on your level of adrenaline.
The Verdon Gorges have been created by erosion by the river with the same name, which carved passages through the calcareous rocks of the mountain. The limestone walls are hundreds of meters high and, if you are exploring the area by bike, make sure you are not afraid of heights, as you will ride around the edge. Look down and you will be amazed! If you want to drive on this road make sure you are an experienced driver, as the road has many hairpin bends and the tunnels are carved straight into the wall of the canyon.
The colour of the Verdon river is bright turquoise because of its glacier origins. It flows through a few artificial lakes, one of them being Sainte-Croix de Verdon which has a beach where you can take a dip into the beautiful coloured water.
As you follow the road through the canyon you will pass by tiny traditional French stone villages where you can enjoy some fresh pastries from the local bakery, taste the locally made calissons candies and observe the local wooden and ceramic crafts.
Here are some local tours you can take:
Explore the vineyards of Rhone Valley
How many times have you had Cote du Rhone wine? I know I bought a few bottles every time I returned from France. It’s cheap (in France) and tastes very good.
The Rhone Valley is the second largest wine-growing region of France and produces each year massive quantities of our favourite dinner accompaniment beverage.
The Rhone river divides the wine region into North and South, each with its own climate. To the North, the weather is colder, with harsh winters and hot summers, with vineyards covering steep hills. The only red wine produced in the Northern Rhone is the Syrah.
In the Southern part of the river the winters and milder and the summers are hot, which means that the grape vines get less water and have a smaller fruit. The most famous wine from the South of the Rhone is the Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a blend of 19 different varieties of grapes. I would love to try that one, how about you?
There are many vineyards in the Rhone Valley opened to the public, and you can go to some of them on day tours if you want to do tastings as well. Never drink and drive!
Stay in style in a camping parc
Do you agree with me that long gone are the days when camping meant pitching your tent in a field and hope for the best, whilst sleeping on an uncomfortable thin matt and wake up with back pain and more tired than the night before?
Going camping is still a great outdoors activity, but these days we can do it comfortably, by choosing to stay in a holiday home that fulfils all the needs the family has. By staying with Eurocamp and choosing to stay here for your Riviera Holidays, you can choose from a great array of places to stay with them in France and many are located next to the attractions I have told you about in this post.
Imagine hiking all day in the Calanques National Park or kayaking in the gorges of Verdon and then returning to your holiday home in the Eurocamp parc, that has a comfortable bed, an onsite restaurant, Wi-Fi, laundry rooms and heated pools!
If you are traveling together with your family, there is no better place for the children to enjoy the water slides, the arts and crafts lessons, the sports tournaments, outdoor games, treasure hunts and face-painting, all run by qualified professionals.
Disclaimer: I have written this post in collaboration with Eurocamp.
Some of the links one this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.