Activities and Sports

In this area of the site we survey the enormous range of sports and activities you can practise and/or watch in Provence: hiking, cycling, water jousting, pétanque, swimming, diving, hot air ballooning, white water rafting as well as many spectacular rides and drives. Click here to read about bird watching and bull games, both in the Camargue.

News for Sports in Marseille

mascot capital of sportIn 2013 Marseille-Provence was the European Capital of Culture. Now in 2017 the region is the European Capital of Sport (pictured: Marlin, the comedy footballing seagull who is the event's mascot).

Some 400 activities are planned over the coming months. Among them are kick-boxing, fencing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, tennis, cycling, swimming, running and windsurfing. In short, something for everyone, including people with disabilities.

 Tour de FranceA highlight will be the arrival of the Tour de France in Marseille on 22 July, with a 23 km / 14 mile individual time trial beginning and ending in the Vélodrome football stadium.

The penultimate stage of the famous race before the finale in Paris, it will take cyclists along the Corniche JF Kennedy, round the Old Port to the MuCEM then up the steep hill to Notre Dame de la Garde.

People seated in the Vélodrome can follow the progress of the cyclists round the city on giant screens and DJs will be on hand to keep things lively.

Entry to the Vélodrome is free on this occasion and a system of applying for tickets in advance is in place: you need to reserve your seats here.

Click here to read more about cycling in Provence. Also on the agenda: the Top 14 rugby semi-final (26-27 May) and the French athletics championship (14-16 July).

marseille cassis race2All this is in addition to major regular sporting events such as the Monte Cristo Challenge swimming race (24-25 June) and the Sosh Freestyle Cup skateboarding world championship (15-25 June), the pétanque world championship (2-7 July) and the Marseille-Cassis half-marathon (29 October), pictured.

It's going to be an active year! Click here for the full 2017 European Capital of Sport programme.

booking.com logoClick here to book a hotel in Provence

Route des Cretes Gorges du VerdonThe Gorges du Verdon are a top tourist attraction in Provence and one of the most beautiful river valleys in Europe. This is the best way to visit the "Grand Canyon of France".

Wine-taster in ProvenceDriving through beautiful provençal scenery and tasting fine wine are both hugely enjoyable ways to spend your stay in France. So why not combine them and take one of our suggested wine routes?

The Blue Coast train line outside MarseilleThe Blue Coast train is the very best way to see the dramatic landscape west and north of Marseille, with its rugged hills and tiny villages snuggled in deep limestone calanques.

Bicycles on the island of PoquerollesYou can cycle for miles along Provence's picturesque backroads without seeing a car or village, and the region is ideal for exploring the scenery while enjoying superb weather, food and drink.

Mont Sainte VictoireStarting and ending in Aix, this route circles the mighty Sainte Victoire mountain that fascinated Paul Cézanne to the point of obsession. But you don't need to be an art buff to enjoy the rich and varied attractions on this ride.

Route des Cretes aerial viewThe route des Crêtes takes you on a magnificent ride between Cassis and La Ciotat, with 360 degree views over some of the most superb scenery in Provence all along the way.

Astrid Berges-Frisbey in The Well-Digger's DaughterPeople are always walking in Marcel Pagnol's stories - not surprisingly since so many of them are set in the tough peasant culture of the early 20th century. And so hiking is surely the best way to enter deep into his world.

The Olympique de Marseille insigniaThe French are football-mad and none more so than the Marseillais. And Olympique de Marseille (OM for short) is central to the city's cultural landscape. Its local fan base is enormous and it regularly clocks up the highest match attendances in France.

The GR2013 at Marseille-Provence airportThe Grande Randonnée GR2013 is a new long-distance footpath through the varied rural and urban landscapes of Southern Provence.

The Monte Cristo ChallengeThe romantic inspiration for Marseille's annual Défi de Monte Cristo (Monte Cristo Challenge) swimming race is, as the name hints, Alexandre Dumas' great classic 1844 novel, The Count of Monte Cristo.

Maitre Kaisen, the Buddhist monk who plays petanqueThe zen of pétanque, how boules became cool and the game that stopped a tram in its tracks: five fun facts about Provence's favourite sport.

mont ventoux summitThere are three routes to the top of Mont Ventoux: from Malaucène, Bédoin and Sault. This is a guide to what you'll see on each of them.

The Sainte Baume VelorailOne of the more unusual ways to tour Provence is by Vélorail, a sort of giant bicycle that runs along a railway track. Today around 50 Vélorails cross the country and there is one in Provence

White water rafting down the Ubaye River, ProvenceWith over 50 km / 30 miles of rapids, the wild Ubaye river in the north of Provence is regarded as one of the best and most beautiful in France for white water rafting.

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