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France's Great Outdoors

The South of France is famous for such iconic hotels as Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc, the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, the Chateau St.-Martin and the Hotel Royal Riviera. But as enticing as these legends are, most visitors also crave exploration beyond the resorts to sample all the activities and experiences that this region has to offer.

We have compiled a round-up of the region’s best half-day and day trips, whether you’re in pursuit of historic villages, island explorations or serious adventure in the great outdoors. Many can easily be combined for fun-filled itineraries. Contact our Bookings Team for help planning your trip to this—one of the Europe’s most fabled regions.

Great Outdoors

Gorges du Verdon:

This spectacular national park forms a border between the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region and the Var and is known as France’s Grand Canyon, with dramatic cliffs and waterfalls at every twist and turn. Activities here include everything from rafting to rock-climbing. For lunch nearby, stop in La Bastide de Moustiers, Alain Ducasse’s long-established country inn set back in the valley.

(Driving Times: From St. Tropez: 1 hour 40 min.; FromChateau St.-Martin: 1 hour 40 min.; From Hotel du Cap Eden Roc: 1 hour 45 min; From Grand Hotel Cap-Ferrat or Hotel Royal Riviera: 2 hours.)

Le Domaine du Rayol:

The lush grounds of this seacoast government-protected park evoke days gone by on the Riviera, with lush wild landscapes right out of a Renoir painting. It is a favorite place for a family outing, plus you can also go snorkeling and explore a special underwater garden trail of marine life. Afterwards, grab a bite at La Rastègue, in Bormes-les-Mimosas, an unspoiled flower-lined village of tiny vaulted streets and fountains.

(Driving times: From St. Tropez: 35 min.; From Chateau St.-Martin: 2 hours; From Hotel du Cap Eden Roc: 1 hour 45 min; From Grand Hotel Cap-Ferrat or Hotel Royal Riviera: 2 hours.)

Esterel National Park: Take the Route 6098 from Mandelieu La Napoule, park in the port of La Rague and hike up to the hillside trail to this spectacular 700-hectare park. Perched above Theoule-sur-mer and overlooking the spectacular stretch of red rock Esterel cliffs and secret turquoise inlets, the fragrant Mediterranean plants and flowers of every variety are well worth the uphill trek. Recharge with lunch at Jilali B, perched just above the coastal road faces the tiny port of Figueirette.

(Driving times: From Hotel du Cap Eden Roc: 1 hour; From Chateau St.-Martin: 1 hour; From St. Tropez: 1 hour.; From Grand Hotel Cap-Ferrat or Hotel Royal Riviera: 1 hour.)

Scenic Village Circuit

Visit Grasse, Le Bar-Sur-Loup, Gourdon, Tourettes-Sur-Loup and Vence in the morning and in the afternoon, visit the perched medieval villages of Cagnes-sur-mer, Roquebrune and Eze, a maze of vaulted narrow streets, galleries and boutiques, with mesmerizing vistas of the coast. Make a reservation for lunch at the Michelin-starred Hostellerie du Château, in Le Bar-Sur-Loup.

(Driving times: This circuit takes approximately 3 hours starting from Antibes.)

On the Water

Ile St Marguerite, Ile St. Honorat:

Take the boat at the port of Cannes to the Lérins Islands, just a 10-minute boat ride from the coast. The islands are a world apart from the coast, with dusty eucalyptus-shaded trails and jade and amethyst creeks. Dine with your toes in the sand, dine at La Tonnelle on Ile St. Honorat.

(Driving Times: From St. Tropez: 1 hour 15 min.; From Chateau St.-Martin: 45 min; From Hotel du Cap Eden Roc: 25 min.; From Grand Hotel Cap-Ferrat or Hotel Royal Riviera: 50 min.)

Iles de Porquerolles: Take the 15-minute ferry ride from La Tour Fondue, Hyères. The best-kept secret of the Riviera and a great family outing, with everything from bike and boat rentals to hiking trails and government-protected sand beaches. Have lunch at Le Mas de Langoustiers at the tip of the island or at the bay-windowed restaurant, L’Olivier, a favorite hideaway for incognito glitterati.

(Driving Times: From Hotel du Cap Eden Roc: 1 hour 45 min.; From Chateau St.-Martin: 1 hour 45 min.; From Grand Hotel Cap-Ferrat or Hotel Royal Riviera: 2 hours; From St. Tropez: 1 hour.)

Published onFebruary 12, 2014

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