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The 5 Best Destinations in France for Outdoor Activities

Outdoor adventures are becoming more popular these days, thanks to the newfound appreciation of nature and spending time in the great outdoors. After the COVID-19 pandemic, people realize that experiencing nature and being active can do wonders for their physical and mental health.

France is one of those countries that offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. It’s home to many incredible places to indulge in your favorite outdoor activities. 

To give you an idea of where to go, here’s a list of the best destinations in France for outdoor activities.

1. Provence

With its unique setting between the Mediterranean Sea and the majestic Southern Alps, Provence is one of France’s most picturesque destinations for outdoor adventures. It also boasts nice weather all year round and breathtaking scenery to inspire you to venture into the great outdoors.

Cycling is the best way to soak up the breathtaking views of Provence. Besides, it hosts the famous Tour de France, one of the world’s most prestigious annual cycling competitions. One of the most popular routes is from Jonquières to Carpentras, a 14-km partially shaded path with beautiful views.

Those who prefer to splash out in the water will find numerous water sports to enjoy in Provence. One of the most exciting water activities is white water kayaking through Gorges de Daluis, a 6-km-long canyon formed by the river Var. Another option is sea kayaking in Calanques National Park, a vast nature park along the Mediterranean coast.

Provence is also renowned for its many scenic hiking trails. Besides, it’s one of Europe’s top hiking and trekking destinations, with trails suitable for every level of hiker. Some of the best hikes include La Maralpine in the Préalpes d’Azur and the Vésubie Valley in Mercantour National Park.

Kayaking in Provence

2. The Loire Valley

Often called the “Garden of France,” the Loire Valley offers the perfect setting for outdoor activities. It’s a place that lures visitors with its unique charm, boasting an array of stunning vineyards producing some of the world’s finest wines. The gorgeous valley is surrounded by the sparkling Loire River and dotted with magnificent châteaux – each offering distinct architectural styles.

Avid cyclists will find the Loire Valley a fantastic place to explore on a bike. Traverse the region and venture into its countryside, passing through postcard-perfect towns and fascinating historical sites. Given the region’s extensive network of cycling trails, there’s a trail to suit you, regardless of your skill level.

Cycle along the Loire à Vélo, a well-marked bicycle path spanning the entire Loire Valley. The scenic trail offers a unique and leisurely way to explore the region on a bike. Since cycling is popular in the region, you will find plenty of bike rental shops within tourist destinations.

If you want a unique and exciting way to admire the picturesque Loire Valley, consider taking a hot air balloon ride over Amboise. The charming town is renowned for its grand chateaux, including the residence of King Charles VIII, where you’ll find Leonardo da Vinci’s tomb. A balloon ride over Amboise is a unique experience, leaving you with memories to treasure for the rest of your life.

3. The French Alps 

As one of Europe’s top destinations for skiing holidays, the French Alps is a great place for outdoor activities. It’s an excellent place for ski-in ski-out chalets, a great option for those who want easy access to ski slopes directly from the chalet. Sno has fantastic ski-in ski-out chalet options, perfect for family and friends who love to ski. Beyond skiing, you can enjoy many other fun activities in the French Alps, regardless of the time of your visit.

If you’re visiting in summer, head to the Ubaye Valley, a popular destination for water sports like canoeing, kayaking, and rafting. Several places offer equipment rental facilities, and you will find many tour companies that can arrange the perfect adventure for you. 

The Southern French Alps boasts over 300 days of sunshine yearly, giving you plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Some popular activities to try are mountaineering, cycling, and hiking. The high-altitude Alpine parks have mountain bike trails for cyclists to test their skills. You can also take scenic hikes to the mountain, passing through traditional mountain villages surrounded by majestic peaks.

Skiing in the French Alps

4. The Pyrenees

The Pyrenees is one of the best destinations for outdoor activities in France. It’s home to a stunning natural park full of beautiful natural sites, which you can explore on a hike. Some trails take you to the stunning Aspe Valley and Ossau Valley, renowned for their magnificent landscape views. One of the most famous trails is the Fort du Portalet hike, a 7-km long and narrow path taking you to the unmissable paths of nature.

The Pyrenees is the best destination for avid mountaineers. It has trails leading to the region’s most prestigious peaks. One of the most impressive is Pic du Midi d’Ossau, with its recognizable silhouette. The climb can be challenging, requiring some experience and good physical condition, but the breathtaking panoramic views will make it well worth it.

Nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts will love discovering the rich flora and fauna of the Pyrenees National Park. As you explore the region, keep your eyes peeled on fascinating animals like marmots, chamois, and bearded vultures.

5. French Riviera

With thrilling escapades and hidden gems on every corner, the French Riviera is one of the best places to embark on an unforgettable outdoor adventure in France. From diving into the crystal-clear waters of Sainte Marguerite Island to canoeing through the picturesque landscapes and paragliding over charming medieval villages, you’ll have endless options to indulge in outdoor activities in this stunning French region.

If you’re craving exhilarating action, try caving. The region is awash with spectacular caves that you can explore with a qualified caving instructor. On this incredible adventure, you’ll have a chance to explore the mysterious world of caves and caverns in a rugged and virtually untouched natural world.

If you’re not afraid of heights, soar above the charming coastal villages of the French Riviera on a paragliding adventure. Enjoy a birds-eye view of the coastal region while strapped into a qualified instructor for a heart-pumping adventure.

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