Age-old geological sites, bright ochre landscapes, exceptionally well-preserved nature reserves and fascinating underwater trails. Discover the most beautiful natural sites in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
The Ochres of the Luberon
An intense light, a rocky landscape where hundreds of orange, yellow and brown shades come to life. Here you are facing the Ochres of the Luberon, an exceptional homegrown geological characteristic. To admire them, take the Sentier des Ocres on foot or bike from the village of Roussillon, built on one of the biggest deposits in the world. Or pop over a bit further east, to the Colorado Provençal in Rustrel. A guaranteed change of scenery! Finally, to explore the industrial epic of ochre’s exploitation, go to the mines of Bruoux, in Gargas.
At the Pré de Madame Carle
The entrance the Parc National des Écrins, the Pré de Madame Carle near the village of Ailefroide, is a natural jewel where time seems to stand still. The starting point for hiking and famous climbing routes, it’s an absolute must to head to the black glacier and white glacier. Legendary summits of the Écrins massif, this mineral terrain has the look of a lunar landscape.
The Underwater Trails
In Ramatuelle, Port-Cros, Hyères or Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer, let yourself be tempted to try an underwater hike. All along the coastline, the underwater trails of the Mediterranean lead you to discover treasures of the marine coastal environments. Monitored by a professional and equipped with a diving suit, a mask and a snorkel, dive into the mysteries of marine fauna and flora. Enjoy moments of peace and quiet as you explore this extremely well-preserved coastline.
The Vultures at Rougon
Budding or confirmed ornithologists, swoop over to Rougon, in the Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon. From this village that hangs from a rocky mountainside, an Active Road guide will take you to the nearby viewpoints, special observation spots for these majestic birds that can reach more than two metres in size. Having died out in the 19th century, they were reintroduced to the region in 1999. An unforgettable spectacle.
The Rocks at Ristolas-Mont-Viso
Located on the edge of the Parc Naturel Régional du Queyras, the Réserve Naturelle de Ristolas-Mont-Viso is a geological and floral treasure. Established in 2007, it houses an impressive diversity of rocks, including gabbros, oil shales and basaltic lavas. Its rugged relief is evidence of its special location, a place where the African and European Plates collided 66 million years ago. Around a thousand plant species bloom in its lawns, meadows, moors and rocks. Want to know more? Head to the Arches des Cimes de Ristolas, an eco-museum dedicated to local biodiversity.
At the Marais du Vigueirat
A precious place for photographers and lovers of protected environments, the Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue is fascinating. In this natural setting, a rough jewel which looks like an unexplored territory is hiding: the Réserve Naturelle des Marais du Vigueirat. As you have your guided tour – on a horse, bike or even in a horse-drawn carriage you will discover a mosaic of natural wetlands that house 2000 plant and animal species, including 300 bird species, 5 bull farms and Camargue horses which graze at the reserve all year round.
The Montagne Sainte Victoire
Peaking at a height of 1,011 metres, the mysterious Montagne Sainte-Victoire is a place which continually fascinates travellers, hikers and artists. Cézanne, to name but one, painted the massif around 40 times! During your climb on the Chemin des Venturiers, take the time to admire the landscapes: a beautiful panorama is on display especially for you, over the Barrage de Bimont dam. Once you reach the summit, gaze over the 17th century priory and the famous Croix de Provence, looking over the Falaises de la Sainte-Victoire.
The Gorges de Daluis
As soon as you arrive, you will understand why this place is nicknamed the Colorado of Nice. Here, the red and ochre cliffs form a canyon around the Var. This natural spectacle is best enjoyed by following one of the paths approaching the Gorges de Daluis. For photos that are a sure-fire success, head to the Clue d’Amen and its incredibly aesthetic peaks.
At the Ammonite Slab
Head to the Unesco Géoparc de Haute-Provence, at Digne-les-Bains. It is at the heart of this remarkable geological, natural and cultural collection that the Ammonite Slab nestles, a 320-square-metre stratum of grey limestone, where around 1500 fossils are concentrated. The ammonites, some of which reach 70 centimetres in diameter, enable us to date this slab to the Lower Jurassic age, i.e. around 200 million years …
Observe the Animals
At the Monts d’Azur Réserve
Located in the heart of the Haut-Thorenc estate, in the hinterland of Nice, the Réserve Biologique des Monts d’Azur is home to ancestral animal species like elk, Przewalski’s horse, European bison, and red deer. To fully appreciate this extremely well-preserved natural setting, go snowshoeing or sledding in winter, or on a safari on foot or in a horse-drawn carriage when the weather is fine. In summer, take a dip in the reserve’s natural swimming pool to refresh yourself. Want to extend your visit? Open the door to one of the estate’s ecolodges.