South of France, Adventure, Culture and Sport Holidays

Southern France is a very appreciated region, particularly due to the nice warm weather which allows holidaymakers to practise lots of outdoor activities during almost all year round.


Overview

Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrenees, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, Rhones-Alpes are the five regions of southern France.

Usually, when French people are speaking about the south of France, they refer mainly to the French Riviera (Cote d'Azur), which is the most touristic area. They differentiate the Mediterranean (south east) from the Atlantic coast (south west), which is seen as a bit less touristic and with an own culture, melting the French culture with a touch of Spanish lifestyle (especially true for the Basque Country). This is especially visible through local houses called Etxe, boasting a particular architectural style (see typical maison basque).

On the contrary, English people often include two other departements when talking about southern France: Limousin and Auvergne, which are normally considered as being central for the French.

The main cities in the South of France are Nice, Toulouse, Marseille and Bordeaux.

The south of France is also well-known for its nice weather. To see the climate departement by departement, please click here.

Geography: Nature, Activities and Adventure

France is renowned as a highly touristic country, thanks to the various landscapes it offers. The south of France itself has assets which explain why many people visit it: a wonderful preserved nature, steep mountains, deep gorges and forested hills, rivers, water falls, clear mountain lakes and beautiful beaches along the coast...

For those who really like outdoor activities and adventure, the mountains and their rivers offer plenty of different things to do:
  • White water sports: Canoeing and kayaking (especially in the Ardèche Gorges) or more extreme activities such as rafting, hydrospeed or canyoning (the Verdon gorges offer many possibilities for this kind of sport).
  • Aerial sports: parascending, parachuting, hang gliding and ballooning to discover the marvellous landscapes from a different angle.
  • Walking, horse riding, quad biking, cycling and mountain biking are other ways to appreciate the surrounding nature.
  • The southern France has mountains such as the Pyrenees which provide other possibilities as rock climbing and potholing. And when the weather becomes colder and enables these activities, winter sports replace them easily!




The special geography of France also offers a real richness for the nature lovers in terms of fauna and flora. It’s a real pleasure to feel united with nature.
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Southern France has become really famous, mainly because of the French Riviera and its fantastic beaches. Beside the growing numbers of casinos, spas and lots of other touristic entertainments on the coast, the beaches allow several sports as sailing, windsurfing, fishing or even diving (numerous wrecks in the area from St Tropez to the Porquerolles island). For those who like bodyboarding and surfing, the Atlantic coast (Aquitaine) is certainly the perfect place!

Cultural attractions

The south of France is also a rich area in terms of cultural attractions and has an important heritage. Lots of typical medieval towns and bastides can been seen across the south, like the famous towns of Carcassonne and Rocamadour. Furthermore, many vestiges from the Roman era can be seen more or less all over the south. There are several amphitheatres, aqueducts, thermaes and bridges, but the most renowned are probably the Pont du Gard or the Bullring in Nimes.

Lourdes, a town situated in the southwest of the Hautes-Pyrénées, is also a main cultural attraction, because it's a major place of Christian pilgrimage.

Besides, picturesque villages and castles are also things to see to discover this beautiful region. There are also several flowers markets and caves to see, but the most interesting and beautiful ones are the market flower of Nice and the cave of Lascaux.

The French people living in the south are well-known for being party-men. A good example, which also shows the likeness with the spanish culture in some ways, is the feria. The most famous ones are the feria from Dax, Bayonne and Nimes. The feria is a local - popular - celebration which takes place each year, caracterised by corridas, releases of bulls in streets and bodegas (outdoor bars or in cellars with festive music). Several great manifestations also take place during the year, such as:
  • Festival International de Cannes (Cinema)
  • Festival d'Avignon (Theatre & Dance)
  • Festival d'Angouleme (Comics)
  • Carnaval de Nice
  • Grand Prix de Monaco (Formula 1)
  • Printemps des Comediens in Montpellier (Theatre)
  • Nice Jazz Festival
  • Les déferlantes d’ Argelès-sur-Mer (Music)

As you can see, there are really a lot of things to do and to see for everybody! Southern France, so much to discover...



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