Like all living things, it is in our human nature that we continue to seek out the sun when we can. Although summer has just slipped past, there are still plenty of outdoor adventures for the active travellers, especially around southern France, to make use of the last warmth of the year.
Cycle along the Rhône
For those looking for a cycle route that will take them from the Alps to the Mediterranean Sea, the 815-km Via Rhôna cycle route is the perfect adventure on two wheels. The itinerary follows the course of the Rhône River from near its source around Lake Geneva to the delta wetland of Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue, through gorgeous nature, vineyards, orchards and farm fields, while accompanied by the glacial blue of the Rhône.
This is one of the best cycle routes for a bikepacking adventure but you could pick one of the shorter segments in the southern region, perhaps between the historic towns of Vienne and Viviers or from sunny Valence to the papal city of Avignon, where you arrive from the opposite side of the river, taking in the beautiful silhouette of the Palace.
Learn to surf on the Bordeaux coast
The wide open sandy beaches of the French Atlantic Coast have long lured sea seekers to test the waves, and those who are looking for more than just sitting on the beach, the Bordeaux coastline is said to have some of the best surfing spots in France. And skilled surfers will always find days in Autumn when the surf gets challengingly wild.
If you don’t already surf, perhaps it’s your cue to sign up for a surf lesson from one of the many surf schools around. Many offer accommodation packages as well other activities such as yoga to complete the experience.
Hike the GR20 in Corsica
The beauty of Corsica is undisputed. This Île de Beauté not only has world class beaches, great cuisine and beautiful towns, it is also a great destination for those who love nothing more than strapping on their hiking boots for an active adventure.
The GR20 route along Corsica’s interior is believed to be Europe’s more difficult hike, with some serious vertical challenge. The 180-km trail is mostly attempted in around two weeks, although can also be hiked in smaller sections depending on transport access to the various start points. The southern part has easier terrain where the final four segments of the northern part is the most difficult. The reward for the hard work is the unforgettable view from the top!
Scuba diving at Calanques National Park Marseille
This is no Maldives, or Australia, but scuba diving in the waters at the Calanques National Park is very special. In fact, it is believed that it was here that pioneers such as Georges Beuchat and Jacques-Yves Cousteau developed the modern scuba diving!
The waters off the Calanques will still be relatively warm in the early Autumn, and it is a great time to avoid the main summer crowds as well. Among the fish, turtles and crustaceans are several wrecks, making this a fantastic spot for underwater archaeology and one of the most interesting dive spots in Europe.
Rock climbing in Vercors
With so many climbing areas abound, the Vercors is a heaven for rock climbers of all levels. For seasoned climbers, there are several locations to attempt, from popular spots of Presles, Gerbier (2,109m), Les Trois Pucelle (1,456m) and Mont Aiguille (2,086m), each with their technical challenges, all with magnificent views of the surrounds. Among the many climb sites, Tina Dalle is the most easily accessible and sunny, with the rock face position being sunbathed most of the day!
For beginners, join one of the climbing schools at Lans-en-Vercors, Corrençon or Villard-de-Lans, where you’ll receive instructions on technique before trying several sites around. For a longer holiday, take on a five-day climbing trip between Vercors and Diois, the highlight being the stunning red limestone in Ombieze. Combine climbing with other activities such as cycling, hiking and even the local specialty sport of biathlon, to enjoy the freshness of the Vercors outdoors!
Enjoy sunshine at Limousin’s Little Canada
Lac Vassivière, in the heart of Limousin, is surrounded by a lush green landscape that will begin to turn its various shades of red for Autumn. The beautiful natural environment, which is today, the Millevaches Natural Regional Park, is referred to by the locals as “le petit Canada du limousin” and it is one of the most scenic and lesser-known spots to enjoy a late summer.
Come for water activities on the lake such as fishing, canoeing and kayaking, a bike or horse ride among the forest or hike the Sentier de Rives trail. The adventure continues at night with exceptional stargazing opportunities, as this is also one of the International Reserve of Starry Sky
Lead photo credit : The view over the Calanques de Piana in Corsica © beboy / shutterstock
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