Planning to go on holidays to the French Riviera? You had in mind the Cannes Film Festival and the beach? Well, you will learn here that there is much more to do in Nice region than what you thought...
There is not ONLY the Cannes Film Festival to see in the Nice area! With the beginning of the warm season also begins the season of outdoor activities! In this article, we will suggest you several outdoor activities, mostly in nature but all with one thing in common: they are good for you and the environment if you respect the rules of responsible traveling!
Know that on the French Riviera, public transportation (train or bus) works well but most of the activities listed below are only accessible by car. So if you are looking for a rental car, why not try GreenRent the first green car rental agency on the French Riviera!
Sunbathing, yes, but instead of the beach why not try a lake?
You are seeking for an alternative to sunbathing on the beach? Here you are: sunbathing on a lake’s beach! Here is a list of some nice places to enjoy the sun, swim and even camp!
- Lake St. Cassian towards Draguignan about 62km away from Nice, big lake, possibility of camping and relatively clean water. Many activities are available such as kayaking or even horseback riding! Lake St. Cassian also has a rich biological reserve; the Fondurane reserve, home to many species of plants and birds. Again, try to avoid leaving your trash or wear non biodegradable sunscreen.
- The gorges of the Siagne: Beware that this place is protected so you won’t be able to camp on site (but you will find some campgrounds around). You can swim there (no chemicals such as non biodegradable sunscreen though). There is a quite rich aquatic life, so do not be scared if a fish (such as barbel or a trout), comes out of curiosity to graze your legs! Not far from Nice but farther than Lake Saint Cassian, it is in the countryside 70km away from Nice.
- Lake St. Croix, a little more away from Nice than the other 2. It is the third largest lake in France. It has many beaches, campgrounds and other water activities.
PRICE : FREE unless you do some of the activities (about 25 euros for one hour of horseback ride, 10 for 2 hours of canoeing or kayaking )
Canyoning: the season is open !!! (From mid-April to end September)
For those unfamiliar with canyoning, it is an outdoor activity which goal is to progress in the watercourse bed whose flow is from low to high per portion. This activity includes several includes other outdoor activities such as walking,scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling (rappelling), and swimming.. It’s frankly awesome. Whether you are sporty or not, there is a canyon for all levels. However, you need a guide and equipment. You’ll spend the day in the water so you will need to wear a wetsuit, provided by the canyoning agency.
Usually you will have to meet somewhere in the morning around 8-9h depending on the canyon you planned. The duration and the difficulty will be chosen in advance together with your guide.Bring some snacks and a waterproof bag to put your electronics. Usually the guide carries with him a sealed can for picnic and other stuff, so you can store your little objects too. Think about bringing a small bag for your waste! The places you’ll discover are absolutely incredible, so do not leave any paper lying around. Most places are cut into the bedrock stone, forming narrow gorges with many drops, beautifully sculpted walls, and sometimes spectacular waterfalls. Here is a list of various canyons you can find in the French Riviera. And here’s a short list of different guides, with whom we have “canyoned” before and who were very pro and green:
- Azur Canyoning : Hubert is very nice and professional but his english is limited
- Canyon06 : Olivier was a very good guide and very responsive but his sense of humor can be “bitter”. Decent level of English.
- Canyoning 06 : we’ve never done canyoning with them, but we heard good feedbacks! They also have guides speaking Russian, English and Dutch!
- Bureau des guides de canyon : List of all guides for all activities such as whitewater rafting or canyoning etc …
PRICE : Canyoning is better if you do as a group (it’s possible to do it with kids) but it is possible to do individually too. Just keep in mind that you will pay per person and about (depending on the guide) € 50 for half a day and 70 for the full day.
Transportation : It is recommended to have your own vehicle, but it is possible to arrange your transportation with the guide.
Hiking in Nice area and surroundings
For those preferring to stay dry (despite the heat), many hiking trails will take you the incredible scenery of the French Riviera. There are 121 hiking trails on the Riviera and around Nice.
Of all the hiking trails, we did not do much but we can advise a few of them below: :
- The path of Nietzsche climbing to the village of Eze, a medieval village in perfect condition. Beautiful scenery but it takes about 2-3 hours of relatively steep ascent.
- The Mercantour National Park, a huge national park with many walking and hiking trails where you’ll find the largest natural mountain lake in Europe, Lake Allos. It’s a must do if you like trekking, many paths exist therefore ask here and contact a guide, it’s safer!
- Hiking around the Esterel, there are several departures, the hikes can be more or less difficult, and it does have magnificent views on the region.
PRICE : Free without a guide but if you want one, which is safer, you’ll have to pay between 30 and 80 € per person for groups of more than 6 people and a minimum of 300 € for a group up to 6 people. Several guides are working in the Mercantour. Here is a link to one of them.
You like climbing trees? Well, the tree climbing activity will delight you! A nice and fun activity for all levels and all ages. We have only tested one center of tree climbing, Canyon Forest, with several different paths with a 331m zipline if you follow the black route. The center is located in Villeneuve Loubet, but there are many others in other parts of the region.
Beware if you have vertigo do not take the black route to pretend you are strong and brave in front of your loved ones. This is what I did and it cost me a few tears at times !!!
PRICE : about 25 euros per person for one route.
DURATION : depending on the course but it can take 2h to 3h
Via Ferrata (only for those who do not have vertigo)
While the Via Ferrata is fantastic and amazing, it is not for those who suffer of vertigo as paralyzing as mine is. Denis dreams about doing a Via Ferrata together once and I am having nightmares about it! For those who do not know what a Via Ferrata is, it is simple: you are supposed to move forward on a rope along a rock wall. It is halfway between climbing and hiking. Explained like that, it does not seem so bad … Wait for it and we will talk about it when you’ll find yourself hanging to a rope over 50 meters above the ground with only support a small piece of rock protruding from the cliff. My nightmare. But seriously, who does that for pleasure? Well apparently a lot of people because it is very popular on the French Riviera. And it seems that it is very secure and there is no chance of falling except if you really want it. And even…
Here is a list of the various Via Ferrata on the Nice area. There’s even an underground !! Unbelievable but no, I am still not planning on doing it. I was ridiculous enough during the tree climbing. And well, we said well enjoy nature, not fear her !!
PRICE : You do not necessarily need a guide for the via ferrata, but the equipment is of course mandatory. For equipment hire and entrance to the Ferrata, you’ll have to pay about 15 € per person.
Rafting and kayaking and other whitewater sports
With many rivers present in the more mountainous part of the French Riviera, you can also enjoy the heat to do some water activities like kayaking or rafting. Perfect to cool off, have fun and for some thrills! Several places in the region of Nice are known for rafting such as the Var, the Verdon Gorges, Gorges Dalui or Vésubie. Check with an agency to find out which course is best for you depending on your level.
Know that rafting is rather a team sport so about 4-8 people per inflatable boat while for kayaking, you embark alone or with a partner.
Contact one of kayaking-rafting agencies available for equipment and guidance:
- Espace Eaux Vives rafting: good agency in Puget (70km away from Nice). Website only in french.
- Planète Rivière ; highly rated on TripAdvisor, this agency offers all kinds of activities from rafting to canyoning. They speak German and English.
- Base Sport Nature : among the best rating on TripAdvisor. Provides english guidance
- Kayak Evasion : they offer to do kayaking on open sea, which can be fun too! And not very expensive (40 euros the day with sunset option if you wish). English possible.
- Bureau des guides de canyon : List all guides for all activities such as whitewater rafting or canyoning etc … Website in English too.
PRICE : for a half day it costs around 45 euros per person depending on the chosen package. And 70 euros for the full day.
Transportation : Plan your own transportation to get to the place of rendezvous
Cycling or rollerblading along the Promenade des Anglais from Nice
A less “adventurous” and “nature” activity but certainly very cool and highly recommended. You can leave from Antibes at the Marina Baie des Anges and cycle along the Promenade des Anglais to Nice or vice versa. A pleasant stroll as bicycle paths were built a few years ago to allow people to join cities via this Promenade des Anglais on bicycles. You can choose to rent a Velo Bleu (blue bike) because there are several terminals in the city and on the Promenade des Anglais to rent or drop off your bike. You pay for the time you use it. It must be booked via the terminal nearby the parking slot with your credit card. You can rent up to 5 bikes at a time and the city of Nice has introduced an app for the Blues Bicycles. Or you can rent one through a shop. If you feel more like skating, it is also possible to rent some roller blades.
On the Promenade des Anglais you can also find rentals of family bikes or tandem. Very nice if you are together with your children or if someone is lazy and doesn’t want to cycle on her/his own.
- Vélo bleu :5 euros and free first 30 minutes and 2 euros an hour
- Vélo from a shop : 15 euros the day approximately
- Rollerblades : 10 euros per day
- Other kinds of bicycles (tandem/ family bikes) : between 5 and 10 euros per hour often negotiable
So as you can see, outside of Cannes Film Festival and the beach in Nice, there are many things to do on the Riviera, which has a privileged environment and a very rich nature. This list is not exhaustive, you can find a lot more outdoor activities such as paragliding or bungee jumping. So get your swimwear and shoes ready, and be prepared to discover breathtaking landscapes and fun activities that make this region so attractive to tourists and celebrities!