Activities and Sports

We survey the enormous range of sports and activities you can practise and/or watch in Provence: hiking, water jousting, pétanque, swimming, diving, hot air ballooning, white water rafting and more.

13 Grandeur Nature free hiking phone appNouvelle: 13 Grandeur Nature, a free smartphone app for hikers and bikers, has just been launched by the Conseil général des Bouches du Rhône covering, logically enough, the département 13: the Bouches du Rhône.

It contains a range of circuits in the region, from the Camargue to the calanques by way of the Alpilles and the Mont Sainte Victoire, including the brand-new Grande Randonnée 2013 long-distance hiking trail. These can be displayed in either list or map form, with an indication of the level of difficulty involved.

The app will also alert you to current sporting and cultural events and features information about history and ecology as well as photographs.

13 Grandeur Nature is available for iPhones and Androids and you can get it here. This page is in French only, though the app itself is in both English and French.

booking.com logoClick here to book a hotel in Provence

 



Cycling in Provence Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Drives and Rides

Bicycles on the island of PoquerollesLarge, sparsely populated, cross-hatched with picturesque backroads where you can gently cruise for miles without seeing a car or village, France is a mecca for two-wheeled tourists, and a cycling holiday is an ideal way to explore Provence while enjoying superb food and drink.

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The GR2013 Long-Distance Hiking Trail Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Walks, Hikes and Runs

The GR2013 at Marseille-Provence airportCreated in conjunction with Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture, the Grande Randonnée GR2013 is a brand-new long-distance footpath through the varied rural and urban landscapes of Southern Provence.

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Swimming in the Count's Slipstream Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Water Sports

The Monte Cristo Challenge

The gloriously romantic inspiration for Marseille's annual Monte Cristo Challenge is, as the name hints, Alexandre Dumas' 1844 novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. In it, Dumas' hero, Edmond Dantès, escapes from the impregnable Château d'If by swimming to freedom.

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Gallery: In Praise Of Fanny Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Pétanque

Postcard of a petanque "Fanny"There is one in virtually every sports bar in the South of France: a beautiful bare-bottomed Fanny. 

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Where to Dive in Provence Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Water Sports

Scuba diving in the MediterraneanJacques Cousteau popularised deep sea diving in Provence and today it's one of the region's favourite sports. There are excellent places to scuba dive - and to learn to dive - all along the Mediterranean and many centres offer baptêmes de plongée (trial dives) for absolute beginners.

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Provence by Vélorail Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Drives and Rides

The Sainte Baume VelorailOne of the more unusual ways to tour Provence is by Vélorail, a sort of giant bicycle that runs along a railway track.

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The Tourist Train of Central Var Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Drives and Rides

The Tourist Train of Central VarThe Tourist Train of Central Var plies along the rail line between Carnoules and Brignoles, rolling leafy landscapes snuggled in between Paul Cézanne's beloved Mont Sainte Victoire and the Gorges du Verdon.

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Walking in Marcel Pagnol's Footsteps Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Walks, Hikes and Runs

Astrid Berges-Frisbey in The Well-Digger's DaughterPeople are always walking in Marcel Pagnol's stories - not surprisingly since so many of them are set in the tough peasant culture of the early 20th century where this was the only means of transport. And so hiking is surely the best way to enter deep into his world.

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The Blue Coast Train Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Drives and Rides

The Blue Coast train at L'EstaqueNot strictly speaking a tourist route - thousands of lucky local commuters use it each day to get to work in Marseille - the Blue Coast train is an excellent way to take a scenic tour along the western calanques and beaches. Our guide to the beautiful Blue Coast train line.

 
Mont Sainte Victoire and the route Cézanne Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Drives and Rides

Mont Sainte VictoireStarting and ending in Aix, the route round Sainte Victoire is centred on the mighty mountain mass that fascinated the great painter Paul Cézanne to the point of obsession. But you don't need to be an art buff to enjoy the rich and varied attractions on this ride.

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Top Ten Wine Drives In Provence Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Drives and Rides

Wine-taster in ProvenceDriving through beautiful provençal scenery and tasting fine wine are both hugely enjoyable ways to spend your stay in France. So why not combine them and take one of our ten suggested wine routes?

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Pétanque: Five Fun Facts Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Pétanque

Maitre Kaisen, the Buddhist monk who plays petanque

The zen of pétanque, how boules became cool and the game that stopped a tram in its tracks: five fun facts about Provence's favourite sport.

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Olympique de Marseille and the Stade Vélodrome Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Football and Rugby

The Olympique de Marseille insigniaThe French are football-mad and none more so than the Marseillais. And Olympique de Marseille (OM for short) occupies a central place in the city's cultural landscape. Its local fan base is enormous and it regularly clocks up the highest match attendances in France.

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White Water Rafting Down The Ubaye River Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Water Sports

White water rafting down the Ubaye River, ProvenceWith over 50 km / 30 miles of rapids, the wild Ubaye river in the north of Provence is regarded as one of the best and most beautiful in France for white water rafting.

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A Brief History of Pétanque Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Pétanque

Man holding petanque boulesMarseille remains the undisputed capital of pétanque and each year in early July the city hosts a four-day world championship of boules, created in 1962 by the pastis king, Paul Ricard.

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Hot Air Ballooning in Haute-Provence Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Aerial Sports

Hot-air ballooning in ProvenceThe French word for a hot air balloon is a Montgolfière. It is so named in honour of two visionary brothers from South-East France who built the first balloon to carry passengers in 1783.

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Knights in Wet Armour Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Water Sports

Marine jousting It's a summer Sunday, the band is tooting folk tunes to, well, beat the band and the jousting is about to begin. There's not a horse in sight though: this, you see, is the not-so-gentle art of marine jousting (la joute marine).

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The Marseille-Cassis Race Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Walks, Hikes and Runs

The Marseille-Cassis raceOne of the running world's most beautiful competitive events is the race between Marseille and Cassis, which takes place each year on the last weekend in October.

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Cassis to La Ciotat: The route des Crêtes Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Drives and Rides

Route des Cretes aerial viewThe route des Crêtes takes you on a magnificent ride between Cassis and La Ciotat, with 360 degree views over some of the most superb scenery in Provence all along the way.

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The Gorges du Verdon Print E-mail
Activities and Sports - Drives and Rides

Route des Cretes Gorges du VerdonThe Gorges du Verdon are a top tourist attraction in Provence and one of the most beautiful river valleys in Europe. This is the best way to visit the "Grand Canyon of France".

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