A weekend might seem short for making the most of the region’s jaw-dropping natural landscapes, but it’s do-able! If you’ve never enjoyed an ecotourism break before, welcome aboard!
A 100% natural long weekend!
A whirlwind tour of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur’s nature reserves
From ranches to olive groves, sandy beaches and ochre soil, just a few days is enough to enjoy a taste of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur’s green pleasures… Head out to the region’s nature reserves for 2, 3 or 4 days to discover the stunning landscapes that are our pride and joy. Ranging from the Camargue ornithological park to the Verdon Regional Nature Reserve, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur’s picture-postcard countryside promises unique weekend experiences with a whole palette of activities to savour. What’s more, the May bank holidays are the perfect time to treat yourself to a long weekend!
A nature reserve for every taste
Sea views or country pleasures: nature rules!
Here in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, we don’t take nature lightly! So it’s no wonder the region is home to an impressive 9 regional nature reserves and 4 national parks: the wild and beautiful Écrins, the Mercantour, a genuine balcony over the sea famed for its Valley of Marvels, Port-Cros, home to a snorkelling trail and last but not least the chalky Calanques fjords lined with arid garrigue. Explore the Alpilles, adorned with limestone mountains and the sweet-scented Baronnies Provençales reserve, gallop across the lagoons of Camargue.
Roam the oak and cedar forests of the Luberon, tackle the iconic mountain passes of Queyras, capture the lunar landscapes of the Préalps, contemplate the deep blue waters of Sainte-Croix lake in the Verdon, stroll through Plan d’Aups forest in the Sainte-Baume hills and observe the lacy peaks of the Dentelles de Montmirail in the Mont-Ventoux reserve. There’s no doubt about it, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur really does have something for every taste!
From the Luberon to the Verdon, across the Durance river
If you’re planning a long weekend in Provence, opt for the region’s gorgeous, untamed and colourful inland areas: the Luberon and Verdon regional nature reserves offer a plethora of geological riches. If you’re visiting the Luberon, don’t miss the stunning ochre rocks of Rustrel – the “Colorado of Provence” – or treat yourself to a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Bruoux quarry in Gargas. Set down your bags at one of the delightful local B&Bs or welcoming little hotels before heading over the Durance river to the Verdon: a remarkably beautiful area home to the lavender-draped Valensole Plateau and Verdon Canyon. This fragrant corner of paradise is a haven for outdoor leisure fans – opt for service providers with the Valeurs Parc Naturel Régional label for a guaranteed stay in harmony with the local flora and fauna. The Luberon Regional Nature Reserve and Verdon Regional Nature Reserve  promise to recharge your batteries in record time…
Nature, nature everywhere
The Alps in the heart of Provence
How about a long, green weekend in Provence at the Baronnies Provençales Regional Nature Reserve ? Set between the Southern Alps and Mont Ventoux, this little paradise is an ode to the senses, an invitation to stride along hiking trails exhaling heady perfumes of wild time and lavender… and gaze in wonder. Your weekend in Provence is also a great opportunity to discover acclaimed local culinary specialities, such as Picodon goat cheese with a drizzle of Nyons olive oil… Make the most of your stay to visit the newest arrival: the Mont Ventoux Regional Nature Reserve.
The Calanques fjords and Sainte-Baume hills, united by water
If the idea of a water-based nature weekend appeals, head to the coast! Set at the gateway to Marseille, the Calanques National Park and Sainte-Baume Regional Nature Reserve have everything you need for a perfect ecotourism break. These Provencal gems have one thing in common: water. The Sainte-Baume hill range owes its exceptional natural riches to its abundant springs. Its forests, hiking trails and the pilgrimage to Saint Mary Magdalene’s grotto are in invitation to switch to slow mode. Less than 50 kilometres further on, the “Route des Crêtes” winds its way along the stunning Calanques fjords.
The view from the top of Cape Canaille over sapphire Mediterranean waters as far as the eye can see is simply bewitching. Take time to explore the trails winding between chalky cliffs, coves lapped by crystal-clear waters and arid garrigue – a must-do!
4 days in the Alpilles and Camargue
Start your weekend in Camargue…
Kick off your adventure with a full immersion in Camargue! On the programme: a visit to a local ranch before straddling a faithful mount and heading out on the local bridle paths. Be sure to select a Valeurs Parc Naturel Régional service provider, committed to upholding the regional nature reserve’s environmental protection pledges. If you’re seeking a character-filled place to stay, Hôtel le Mas de la Grenouillère in Sainte-Maries de la Mer brims with typical local gypsy charm.
Camargue is also home to the Marais du Vigueirat, an ecotourism site harbouring exceptional flora and fauna. Your next stop is the Alpilles. Embodying the very essence of Provence, this captivating area is dotted with olive oil growers. Feeling peckish? Pull up a chair at a “Conservatoire des Cuisines du Grand Sud” establishment, promising authentic and deliciously-fresh local produce.
… And wind up in style in Saint-Rémy
If you can’t get enough of our magnificent nature reserves, award yourself some extra time to get to know the local flora and fauna. Just for starters, the Eagle Owl is Europe’s largest nocturnal bird of prey… Simply follow in the footsteps of our nature guides – and don’t forget to stop off at vineyards such as Domaine de Beaujeu to sample the excellent local wines on your way. Blessed with unique contrasts, colours and reliefs, the Alpilles never fail to conjure up the moving works of author Alphonse Daudet. During your tour, head to the Musée de la Camargue in Arles or Musée des Alpilles in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence for a deep dive into local culture.
The Romans left a lasting mark here and you can still admire many Roman remains today, blending beautifully into the natural environment. A dynamic duo of destinations, the Alpilles & Camargue promise an invigorating nature break combining Provence and the Med…