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A nature break

on the Côte d’Azur!

Are you pining for fresh air, do you need a rest or just a good opportunity to get together…? Here is a melting pot of the best nature breaks to indulge in on the Côte d’Azur, in the springtime when the sun shines and nature is waking up, or in the autumn to make the most of the Indian summer and its blazing colours.

Escape in the Mercantour

At just one hour from Nice and the beaches of the Côte d’Azur, the Mercantour National Park is home to a stopover gite of the same name in Sospel. A simple place between the Mediterranean sea and the mountains of the Alps where you can to wake up right in the middle of the wilderness. In the autumn, the “La flore du Mercantour” trail invites explorers to discover the enigmatic flowers of the region in the valley of Allos. For animal lovers and horse-riders, have a day’s ride in the spring with the Ferme du Mercantour, followed by a picnic in the open air. And for hikers, venture five days into the Vallée de la Vésubie to see the Plateau des Terres Rouges, the Vallon de la Gordolasque and the Vallée des Merveilles where prehistoric rock carvings were discovered. The glacial circle and the five lakes of Prals with the summit of Le Gélas are totally amazing! Forget the car, car pooling or any other means of transport to get there and go for the Train des Merveilles: an incredible itinerary which crosses exceptional structures with bridges and viaducts overlooking the landscape.

A change of scene in the préalpes d’Azur

With the coast just a few kilometres away, plunge into the soothing atmosphere of the mountains in the Préalpes d’Azur Natural Regional Park. On the first foothills of the mountains in the western part of the Alpes-Maritimes, the natural setting will delight both those who adore the sea and mountain-lovers. Visitors can stay in the BNB Castellane, admire the view of the mountains from their bedroom and walk around the Lake of Castellane. The Park is like a balcony open onto the Côte d’Azur and the Alps and offers a highly varied decor which invites you to a rural wander around its hilltop villages with their medieval architecture. In the spring, seasoned hikers can set off for five days of hiking with La Maralpine. From Saint-Auban to Vence or Grasse, the variety of landscapes is never-ending: the foothills of the Alps and the Verdon, the baous near the coast, l’Estéron, carved cliffs and pastoral buildings. In the autumn, the “Souterroscope” attracts those who love underground adventures. At just 15 minutes from Grasse, on the Castellane road, head for la Grotte de la Baume Obscure, where the water has been seeping into a plateau overlooking the Gorges de la Siagne for millions of years.

Set sail for l’Esterel!

Easily recognisable with its red rock and steep-sided creeks which plunge into the Mediterranean,  the Massif de L’Esterel is perfect for a spring dive into the sea in Théoule-sur-Mer. In the Réserve du Cap Roux, you’ll be happy as a sandboy with Dune Esterel. Try snorkelling and an incredible dive with flippers right into the deep blue sea. But if you’re not really water-minded but have your foot on the kick-starter, unusual motorised buggy outings in one of Esterel Aventures’s off-road discovery vehicles are just what you’re looking for! In the autumn, discover the Corniche d’Or and wind along its roads on a commented visit for thrill-seekers. The little extra bonus to get you motivated: an off-road session in a private estate in Saint-Raphaël. Cycle-tourists will prefer to take their time admiring the successive views while they pace themselves on electric mountain bike outings with Passion Esterel. After a day filled with things to see, slip between the beautiful sheets in one of the beds in the Chambre d’hôtes L’Écureuil, a pretty traditional Provencal villa in Saint-Raphaël.

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