Spending time on the French Riviera means endless opportunities to have fun. The South of France is blessed with a fantastic climate and glorious scenery, the perfect combination for those who love the outdoors. From skiing in the Southern Alps to hiking in the hills of Provence, the French Riviera has got it all and then some.
But if there’s one range of activities that this part of the world excels in, it’s water sports. The azure blue water of the Mediterranean is the perfect place to go sailing, paddle boarding or snorkelling.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a complete novice, you’ll love the incredible marine life and warm water all along the coast. So this season why not dive in head first and check out some of the thrilling water sports on the French Riviera.
The ultimate way to fly across the water, jet skis have been making waves since their invention in the 1970s. Get your adrenaline going by zipping over the Mediterranean at high speed with the wind in your hair. Driving a jet ski is pretty straightforward but does require a bit of muscle to skim the waves, so you’ll get a full-body workout at the same time. Get out on the ocean with a jet ski and challenge your friends and family to a fast-paced race, this is one day out you won’t forget in a hurry.
Where to go jet skiing
Pampelonne Beach in St Tropez was made for jet skiing. There are long calm stretches of sea as far as the eye can see. And the beautiful scenery along this part of the coast will make the perfect backdrop to your ocean adventure. Check out Team Watersport who have been running a jet ski centre on Pampelonne since 1981 and get ready for a fantastic day out.
The snowboard of the sea, wakeboarding in the Mediterranean is hours of fun. Strap on a wakeboard and let a motorboat tow you over the waves at speeds of up to 40km. Novice riders are usually happy just to zip through the surf, but wakeboarding is fairly easy to pick up. Once you’ve had a bit of practice, you’ll soon be up to riding a kicker or a slider with the best of them!
Where to go wakeboarding
Head over to Nice for a fun day out wakeboarding in the Med. Nikaia Watersports opposite the Place Massena have got all the gear and will hook you up in no time. Ride the waves in the Baie des Anges and get the best view in town of the iconic Promenade des Anglais. This is what holidays are all about.
For a relaxing day out in the Mediterranean, what could be nicer than chartering a boat? The French Riviera has been synonymous with yachting for years. And the region is overflowing with remote islands and coves which can only be reached by sea. Charter a small motor boat and explore the area yourself or go for a larger vessel with a captain who will be your expert local guide. Spend the day cruising through the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean with the occasional dip in the sea to cool off. These are the moments you’ll remember forever.
Where to go sailing
You can’t really go wrong with a day's sailing in the South of France. Miles of beautiful coastline plus gorgeous scenery make it the ideal sailing destination. But we recommend Cannes as a great base to start your charter. Boat Evasion in the Port du Béal have a wide range of boats of all sizes. Head over to the nearby Iles de Lérins to explore the historic islands in the morning. And in the afternoon make your way down to the Criques de l’Esterel to sunbathe and swim in glorious privacy.
Stand up Paddleboarding
Modern stand-up Paddleboarding may have originated in Hawaii, but these days it’s also popular all over the French Riviera. A fun activity for all the family, stand up paddleboarding basically just requires a good sense of balance. Ecologically friendly and remarkably relaxing, paddleboarding can be as easy or as athletic as you like. Start by gently skimming through the water and then move on to a yoga or fitness lesson whilst you’re on the paddleboard, the choice is yours!
Where to go paddleboarding
What could be better than trying out paddleboarding for the first time in beautiful St Jean Cap Ferrat? Paddleboard specialists AthletX SUP are based on the Plage de Passable in St Jean and have a fantastic choice of activities. Take a private paddleboard yoga lesson while the sun comes up over the Bay of Villefranche, or just paddle around the peninsula in the sunshine. Whichever paddleboard option you pick, we guarantee you’ll fall in love with this completely addictive sport.
What’s not to love about a flyfish ride. Grab a group of friends and jump aboard this inflatable raft for thrills and spills in the water. The flyfish starts off lying flat like a regular raft. But once a motor boat starts to tow it out to sea, the speed of the boat makes the flyfish shoot up in the air. See who can hang on the longest as you bump over the waves but remember, everybody, ends up in the water after a flyfish ride!
Where to ride the flyfish
Monaco may be one of the chicest beach resorts in the world, but it also has a fantastic choice of water sports. Skivol Watersports on Larvotto Beach will soon have you flying through the air at speed with their inflatable flyfish ride. Sail past the Principality on the back of the raft and then swim back to shore once it’s all over, we promise that one flyfish ride is never enough!
Just like paddleboarding, kayaking is a peaceful and relaxing way of discovering the ocean. Originally created as hunting boats, kayaks are a great way to get out onto the water and up close with the local wildlife. Lightweight and easy to paddle, kayaking is another great family activity to try here in the calm water of the French Riviera.
Where to go kayaking
The Cap Kayak team in the Cap d’Antibes have been specialising in kayaks and paddleboard for years. Pop along to the Paddle Centre in Port Gallice and let them sort you out with a kayak for the day. They offer guided tours of the Bay of Antibes, sunset paddles along the coast and even kayak fitness classes. Exploring the Cap from the sea has never been so much fun!
Snorkelling is one of the best ways to get up close with the Mediterranean’s amazing marine life. With no complicated training or equipment needed, just about anyone can pop on a mask and enjoy a day’s snorkelling. Swim through the water with your snorkel and flippers and check out the seabed and colourful shoals of fish who live in the South of France. Just remember to pop your head out of the water every now and again to take in the view onshore too!
Where to go snorkelling
Our favourite place for snorkelling must be Villefranche. The beautiful bay is the perfect place to enjoy an underwater adventure. Check out Randeau Evasion in the Port de la Darse for a fantastic day out. They’ll take you out in their private boat and show you all the best sites, so you’ll be able to experience the very best the French Riviera has to offer under the surface.
Parasailing is another fantastic way to discover the French Riviera. Sail high over the coast and catch a glimpse of the Provençal hills before coming back down aboard a sleek motorboat. And parasailing is very easy to pick up even if you’ve never tried it before. The harness does all the hard work, so all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. You can parasail alone or with a friend and we guarantee you’ll love soaring gracefully over the French Riviera coastline.
Where to go parasailing
We highly recommend taking advantage of the fantastic views along the littoral and going parasailing in Ramatuelle. Local company Sun Force run solo, tandem or even triple parasailing trips, and the views over Pampelonne have to be seen to be believed. Just remember to strap on your GoPro before you go as this is one video you’ll definitely want to show your family and friends.
If you fancy trying something a bit more energetic, canyoning might just be the activity for you. Walk, scramble and jump through the rocky canyons of the French Riviera and cool off with a dip in one of the natural pools and waterfalls along the way. Canyoning can be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it with routes available for all fitness levels and ages. Being able to swim is pretty much a prerequisite for the canyons in the South of France, but other than that all you need are enthusiasm and determination to have an incredible day out. Where to go canyoning
One of the best sites for canyoning in this part of the world is the Gorges du Loup. Located less than an hour away from Nice and Cannes, you’ll love the mountain air and exciting canyoning routes which run through the gorge. Hubert Ayasse of Azur Canyoning knows the area like the back of his hand and will organise a day out you’ll never forget. With the rocky slides, swimming holes and granite rock of the Gorges, canyoning just doesn’t get much better than this.
One for the whole family, who doesn’t love a day out on a pedalo. Thought to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci himself, these cute little paddle boats are a brilliant way to get the kids out on the water. Pedal yourself around the bay or get the kids to do all the work for you, either way, everyone will have fun. And for even more laughs, opt for one of the pedalos with a slide attached so you can take a cheeky dip in the Mediterranean along the way.
Where to go out in a pedalo
For a pedalo trip around 2 of the prettiest bays in the French Riviera, make your way to St Jean Cap Ferrat. Cap Ferrat Watersports on the Promenade Maurice Rouvier is ideally located between the stunning towns of St Jean and Beaulieu. With the Baie des Formis to your left and the Rompa-Talon headland to your right, you can’t go wrong whichever way you choose. To make it a truly unforgettable afternoon, order a couple of cold beverages along with your pedalo. There’s no better way to enjoy the experience.
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