When one thinks of the South of France, one imagines golden beaches lapped by the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Palm trees waving gently in the breeze and whitewashed villas dotted in the hillsides overlooking the sea. It is the perfect place to unwind and leave the worries of the world behind you.The South of France, with it’s beautiful and varied landscapes, is the perfect location for enjoying a variety of water sports. The scenery of rugged mountains sloping gently down to a crystal blue, sparkling sea is the ideal backdrop to swimming, jet skiing, water skiing, yachting, snorkelling and many more water based activities. It is also the ideal way to stay cool in the heat of the scorching mediterraneansun.Boats can be hired for a morning’s water-skiing or wakeboarding. Snorkel in one of the many coves followed by a picnic on the beach. Enjoy the exhilerating spray as you jet ski along the coast. For the more adventurous hiking or cycling through some of the most beautiful Provencal villages, with the aromas of mimosa, pine and wild herbs in the air is the perfect holiday. There is never a lack of things to do in this beautiful part of the world, even if you fancy a lazy day sitting at one of the many waterfront cafes people watching and enjoying a coffe and pastry, the south of France is the perfect place to holiday.
Important: Before embarking on any of the above sporting activities, please ensure that you have ample insurance in place as your basic insurance will not cover extreme sports.
When winter comes and the snow lies like a thick blanket on the ground, the French Alpes is the place to head for.There are 110 ski stations in the Savoie and Haute-Savoie regions alone.The largest ski area in Europe is Les Trois Vallées, which has over 600 km of pistes and 200 ski lifts.It includes eight ski resorts which are linked together by a network of ski lifts and runs.
Courchevel – ranges betwen 1300-1850meters (www.courchevel.com) La Tania -1400m is at the heart of Les Trois Vallees (www.latania.com) Méribel – 1450-1800m has the charm of an alpine village (www.meribel.com) Brides-les-Bains 600m (www.brideski.com) Les Menuires-1850m offers ski slpoes for all levels of expertise (www.lesmenuires.com) Val Thorens- 2300m the highest ski resort in europe and overlooked by 6 glaciers, the skiing here lasts from nov -may(www.valthorens.com) Orelle -880m a village filled with charm and tradition (www.orelle.net)Saint Martin de Belleville -1450m has kept it’s traditional charm alongside it’s uptodate amenities.(For more information on the French Alpes go to www.france-montagnes.com Ski slopes are graded Green-beginers, Blue-moderate, Red-difficult, Black-experienced skiers only.Besides the normal daytime skiing you can also enjoy nighttime skiing, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Sledging and bobsleighing have become very popular and, with special runs for children,families can enjoy the thrills together. Details of these can be obtained from the local tourist office
We can not talk about the French Alpes without mentioing the most famous mountain in the range which is,of course Mont Blanc. It is the highest mountain in the alpes,and indeed in Western Europe. It stands at 4,810.45m (15,782ft) above sea level.A cable car ascends and crosses the mountain from Courmayeur to Chamonix, not for the faint hearted! The Mont Blanc Tunnel runs beneath the mountain linking France with Italy, it is 11.6km (7.25 miles) long and is a major trans-Alpine route.Mont Blanc is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world.
If you plan to drive to a ski resort in France please check weather conditions before heading off, you can contact Alpine roads website or Pyrenees traffic website, as many of the mountain road will be closed in bad weather. Be prepared by making sure you have snow chains or even better snow tyres. Always make sure you keep your fuel tank full. Keep your speed down, you never know when you will encounter ice. And remember to enjoy your trip!
The network of French waterways includes 100 canals and rivers, totaling over 8,000 kilometers to enjoy by boat or barge. Floating along the water is one of life’s great pleasures and gives a totally different perspective of France from the busy, dusty roads and cities. Here you can enjoy nature in peace and tranquility. You can travel across France from North to South and East to West using the canals and rivers, all of which vary in size and scenic beauty.On the bigger, busier rivers and canals you will encounter commercial barges transporting their wares, as the canals link to other major canal routes within Europe, but on the smaller waterways there will only be other small boats and barges out enjoying the countryside. Boats can be hired through various outlets such as www.french-waterways.com
Having originated in La Ciotat, Provence, Pétanque is played throughout France but more so in the south of France, especially in the summer months. There are “boulodrome” in every town and village filled with players with their metallic boules sipping pastis and enjoying the company and banter of other players. Around the exterior of the playing area will be women and children watching the goings on and chatting. The game is taken very seriously by the players and they learn to play from a very early age. The object of the game is to get closest to the object ball-the cochonnet-and to push your opponents balls further away. Whether you are a casual player or a serious contender in the league, it is a wonderful way of passing an afternoon in the sunshine. Players will welcome you if you would like to join in, just introduce yourself and say “Bonjour”!
A race circuit opened to the spectators. Since 2009 the circuit Paul Ricard is again linked to competition and racing. Homologated by FIA, FFSA & FFM, the track hosts official car and motorbike races. According to the latest generation security standards and equipped with topof-the-range facilities, the circuit Paul Ricard chose to professionalize its rescue teams. To supervise races, the automotive sporting association (ASAC) of the Var Region guarantees the respect of sports rules. 10 to 20 events open to spectators are planned on the track each year. The Paul Ricard circuit is back to its original vocation as a major place for motorsports.
France`s most important bullfighting arenas are in the southern cities of Nimes and Arles, however throughout the entire southern coast you will find bullfighting arenas, like the the arena in Le Grau du Roi. Bullfighting in France is unique in the fact that the Bull has the right not to fight. A more indigenous genre of bullfighting is widely common in the Provence and Languedoc areas, and is known alternately as “course libre” or “course camarguaise“. This is a bloodless spectacle (for the bulls) in which the objective is to snatch a rosette from the head of a young bull. They do not try to take the rosette with their bear hands but with a hook called raset or crochet. Once the raseteurs or more commonly known, the Matador has retrieved the Rosette, he gives it to a lucky young lady in the audience.
Cycling and the EuroVelo
Cycling or Bicycling as it is less known is a form of transport, recreation and sport which has had a significant resurgence in recent years due to rising fuel costs, traffic congestion as well as a means of keeping fit. Depending on the kind of cycling you wish to do, there is a bike suitable to your needs. From mountain bikes, Tourers, Road Bikes to racing bikes, there is a cycle to fit all.
In areas in which cycling is popular and encouraged, cycle-parking facilities using bicycle stands, lockable mini-garages, and patrolled cycle parks are used in order to reduce theft. Local governments promote cycling by permitting bicycles to be carried on public transport or by providing external attachment devices on public transport vehicles. Conversely, an absence of secure cycle-parking is a recurring complaint by cyclists from cities with low modal share of cycling.
The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) is coordinating the development of a network of high-quality cycling routes that connect the whole continent. The routes can be used by long-distance cycle tourists, as well as by local people making daily journeys. EuroVelo currently comprises of 14 routes and it is envisaged that the network will be substantially complete by 2020
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