There are times when we all feel as though we need an adventure, to make the most of beautiful weather, to feel the wind in our hair and escape our daily routines. However, real life has the habit of catching up with us all, so that is when Grand Avignon’s Micro-Adventures are our saving grace – adventures are within our grasp, or rather – within walking distance!
What is a micro-adventure?
A micro-adventure is the opportunity for those of us with some, or even minimal, outdoor experience to escape into nature. These short, affordable adventures can take place in any season, and involve zero-carbon transport. Thanks to micro-adventures, we can all fit a real adventure into our ongoing schedules.
Grand Avignon’s Office de Tourisme is brimming with ideas for micro-adventures across the region. Located between Mont Ventoux, the Alpilles, Luberon and Camargue, the city of Avignon is “the base camp of Provence.” From Avignon, you easily spend a couple of days in the wilds of the beautiful Grand Avignon countryside.
Micro adventure in Provence
Grand Avignon’s range of micro-adventures range in difficulty from peaceful hikes and bike rides where you can soak up the stunning scenery, to mountainous climbs much like your very own Tour de France! Each micro-adventure includes a toolbox of guides and maps to help you along your journey. The kit includes a GPS file with a map of your chosen route and destination, and GPS app recommendations. They also provide transport details and bike rental guides, as well as suggestions for restaurants and accommodation. Depending on your chosen micro-adventure, an experienced guide may join you.
So, what micro-adventures does Grand Avignon have in mind? So far, they have designed 7 unique excursions to show you the real and authentic Grand Avignon countryside, and they have plans to extend the list! Here is a selection for you to … Read on to find your perfect micro-adventure:
From one river to the other: hiking and canoeing down the Ouvèze
Hike through the mountains of Vaucluse and peacefully glide back to Avignon by canoe. Nestled deep in the Grand Avignon countryside are picturesque villages where you can stop for delicious meals. The village Bédarrides, your stopover for the night, is famous for being criss-crossed by seven rivers. It’s the perfect spot for fishermen and walkers to the serene scenery.
The next day, after a walk to the Ouvèze river, collect your canoes or kayaks and slip down the river for an unhurried half-day journey back to Avignon. As the river joins the wider Rhône, the waters may get a bit more choppy, so be prepared and there’s the possibility of a bit of white water rafting!
The Pont du Gard by bike: a cycling adventure for families
Whoever said micro-adventures are not family-friendly haven’t come across this delightful bike excursion to the UNESCO world heritage site. Pont du Gard is an incredible ancient Roman bridge dating from the 1st century. 49m tall, consisting of up to 50,000 tonnes of stone, the Pont du Gard has withstood centuries of all weathers. At the end of your journey, it towers before you, a magnificent sight.
The round-trip covers almost 80km and is considered to be of moderate difficulty. Once on the greenway, away from vehicles and amidst the flowers of Gard, the cycle trail is perfect for children to have a go on their bikes. The first night is spent in wooden huts at a campsite near Remoulins, then onwards to the bridge. To close the loop on your return to Avignon, the stops include vineyards and villages. Children of all ages can be rest assured that there are ice cream stores along the way. Grand Avignon Office de Tourisme recommends bike hires along with options for children including pull-along carts.
The route to take you to the stars: star-gazing and cycling to Luberon
An epic journey for the expert cyclists – climb the twisting paths of the mountains of Vaucluse with a total elevation of 1,100m. First you reach the stunningly peaceful Rocher du Cire viewpoint of the surrounding gorges. Then the route continues upwards, but the reward is breath-taking – a clear night sky devoid of any light pollution, perfect for star gazing.
At L’Observatoire Sirene, based in the diverse Luberon regional natural park, your micro-adventure takes you to the stars as you spend the evening discovering the galaxy. You will be guided through the different constellations that are visible to the naked eye, then you can explore the night sky in more detail by using the observatory’s instruments.
Campsites and bed and breakfast recommendations are a short bike-ride away. Cycle back to Avignon the next day alongside a former railway track and admire the villages and fields of flowers along the route.
Sleep among the birds: cycle in the Camargue to spot migrating cranes
Take a sojourn through the Camargue, the marshy coastal region just south of Arles. This cycling adventure offers two options – one for experienced cyclists, eager to traverse a near-160km distance, and another for those simply enjoying a moment of escapism with their families. Bring your binoculars as this excursion is for the bird-watchers out there. The Camargue is populated by flocks of thousands of cranes who migrate to the south in the winter. Witness them at roost and in flight as you cycle along the greenway. Grand Avignon’s Office de Tourisme suggests great bike hire options, including carts for children, and also provides excellent bird-watching resources.
This is a great out-of-season adventure for winter, perfect for watching the migration of cranes and to enjoy the deserted bike trails. Check the website for restaurants and accommodation during the winter months.
Flawless Vaucluse: a 3-day mountain hike and descent into the Campredon dry canyon
Another out-of-season opportunity to immerse yourself in the Grand Avignon countryside is to climb the mountains of Vaucluse. This trip is best enjoyed in the spring or autumn to avoid rain and fire risks. A micro-adventure for the hardiest out there as this takes you to an elevation of 1,350m. Not only that, but there is a heart-stopping abseil down into the canyons.
Traverse through the mountains and deep valleys and stop in the picturesque villages La Roque-sur-Pernes and Le Beaucet perched on the cliff edges. On day 2, it is time to descend the canyons. Accompanied by experienced instructors, you are provided with all the necessary equipment for a safe descent. An adventure best avoided if you are scared of heights – one descent reaches 25m! End the adrenaline-pumping trip with a peaceful visit to Le Sanctuaire de saint Gens.
Plan your micro-adventure
The Grand Avignon tourist office is based in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, just across the river from the city of Avignon. Find all the information on the Grand Avignon’s Office de Tourisme’s website and you can email them with any questions, the team are dedicated to specifically helping all new micro-adventurers!
Find loads of great info for what to see and do in Provence at: provenceguide.co.uk