Active Provence 

Over the years I’ve wished (many times) that we could just chill out and effectively lie by a pool and relax for a holiday. But to be honest despite our best efforts we’ve found it’s just not for us and that after a hard few hours of trying we’re all ‘champing at the bit’ just wanting to do something. 

I’m not sure if it’s that we have a very short attention span or simply don’t have the capacity to just kick back and do nothing, but whatever it is there’s rarely a day that passes without us getting out and about to do something active. Even in the height of summer it’s good to do something early and then feel it’s OK to relax a bit in the afternoon.

Early morning light on a pre-breakfast ride to avoid the heat

To be honest we’re the same at home and quickly feel a little bit ‘cage-walky’ if we can’t get out for a walk or a cycle ride, although sadly there we often tend to be limited by the weather conditions! 

A favourite ride to Budleigh Salterton when we’re at home in Devon

Here though we find that there is always something to do, whether it’s a walk……

The walk up to Roussillon is one of our favourites

A water-based activity…..

Ambling up a river

Or (of course) our particular favourite – cycling

Tom on his way up to Oppedette

Walking: 

Over the years we’ve found some great walks, some more challenging than others and have squirrelled out some cooler places to walk in the heat of the summer – our particular favourite being the Vallée du Toulourenc.

I still can’t think of a cooler place to be on a hot summer’s day

There are though lots of well signposted routes that cross-cross the landscape and it’s hard to get lost thanks to the regular marks on trees and stones that keep you on track. 

The marked trees and stones help keep you on track

In the height of summer though, it always feels too hot to walk any distance, although we regularly see people in boots weighed down with heavy rucksacks, many on the route to Santiago de Compostella. I have to take my hat off to them as I struggle to walk any distance just carrying a bottle of water, when the mercury hits above 30 degrees!

Fontaine de Vaucluse offers a shady place to walk by the river on a hot day

In the height of the summer we tend to limit our walking to an amble around a market and an evening walk at dusk, when the temperature has dropped slightly and we can watch the bats flitting above us.

Sunset from Caseneuve

Out of season though the walks here are a delight, with some great circular routes, which take in many of the pretty villages, such as this one via Roussillon…. https://vauclusedreamer.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/a-colourful-circular-winter-walk/ 

We’re aiming to bring our dog out this Winter to have an even better excuse (if one is needed) to explore some more of the trails, so watch out for more of our walks later this year.

Water:

During the summer months there’s always a draw to cooler, water-based activities and I mentioned 3 of our favourites in a recent blog…..

The Vallée de la Toulourenc is always a great day out – it’s just over an hour’s drive from us, through beautiful countryside on the flanks of Mont Ventoux. It’s clear, fresh water offers a beautiful place for a walk and with you feet always in the water, or clambering through its waterfalls, you never feel too hot!

Alternatively there’s the beaches of the Mediterranean, either the sandy expanses at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer or further afield at Sète
Or alternatively the beautiful coves of the Calanques near Cassis and Marseille, again just under 2 hours drive.

The beautiful sandy beaches at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

Over the years we’ve also kayaked, finding it easy to spend many hours paddling gently along the Gard and under the spectacular Pont-du-Gard

There’s also guided kayaking along the pretty River Sorgue, with a couple of rental companies just outside Fontaine de Vaucluse….

One of the kayak companies is based just below the viaduct

Or you can head further afield to the Gorges de L’Ardèche and drift under the natural Pont D’Arc, although beware of people trying to hang off the back of your kayak – it does make it harder work.
Cycling:

This is by far our favourite activity and we’ve cycled together for as long as we can remember. 

When the boys were small we took them along stretches of the Véloroute du Calavon- the fantastic, well-maintained off-road cycle route that now runs from Robion through the Luberon Valley nearly to Cérèste. 

The Veloroute du Calavon is a great place to cycle with youngsters

This is a great facility for the area and allows you to cycle safely along the valley floor……

A shady spot on the Veloroute

…..Enabling you to jump off and follow quiet side roads to the pretty villages whenever you fancy. 
Alternatively we used the head up to the shaded road that runs through the beautiful Foret des Cèdres found on the top of the Petit Luberon above Bonnieux.

Again this off-road, almost flat trail is perfect for young legs & ideal in the height of the summer when the trees offer much-needed shade, as well as it being one of the best places to play ‘Hide & Seek’!

Perfect off-road, safe cycling Forêt des Cèdres

As the boys grew, so our cycle rides got longer (although I gave up counting how many times we were moaned at as we started to head up to another hill-top village)

For so many years I ambled along happily at the back, coaxing the boys on as we tackled the hills up to Gordes, Roussillon and Oppède Le Vieux.

Then 3 years ago on a whim (after a glass of wine) we decided to have a little family ride up Mont Ventoux – rather a mad moment, but a great family experience all the same!

Since then the tables have rather turned, with the rides getting longer and our youngest or Andy coming back to check I’m getting on OK and coaxing me up the hills……. and keeping an eye on my brake pads as apparently I wear them out with over-use when I’m going down any slope!! My bike is called Miss Daisy for a reason! 

Tom checking the heat of my brake pads after cycling down the Col du Murs

It’s worth it though – cycling here is such a delight – yes there are hills, but what goes up, comes down at some point and the views (and ability to eat cake without guilt) are always worth the effort.

The view from Gordes is simply stunning like so many others

We never really see our eldest now as he knows the roads here like the back of his hand and simply disappears off, heading wherever he fancies, much faster than I could ever imagine.

But that’s good – and for us it is the perfect place to be able to spend time all year round and enjoy the active lifestyle that we love.

I’m sure one day I’ll just be happy reading a book by the pool, but for the time being there’s too many rides to be done and walks to enjoy….

Tom heading to the summit of Mont Ventoux a few weeks ago.


Doing nothing can wait! 

3 thoughts on “Active Provence 

  1. I can’t sit still either when on vacation unless I am at a restaurant. I love a beautiful pool, but there are too many villages to be discovered. Love hearing about your adventures.

    • Thanks – I’m pleased we’re not the only ones – the thought of being limited to a hotel or just doing organised trips sends a shiver through my spine! As you say – so many things to be discovered 😀 thanks again

  2. We are an active family too and tend not to stay put in one place for long! Walking the Toulourenc is great fun and a family favourite. However another superb trek is Les Gorges de Regalon circuit on the southern side of the Luberon near Merindol – highly recommended.

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