Whether you’re looking to stride alongside Europe’s answer to the Grand Canyon or to jog through alpine villages on the Italian border, the south of France offers a variety of peaceful running routes.
Littoral St Tropez
The coastline around the chic village of St Tropez is rugged, picturesque and can be surprisingly uncrowded in the early summer mornings – maybe because everyone has often partied too hard the night before. Follow the coastal route, marked Le Littoral.
To the north of Aix, the lake at Peyrolles (a small town packed full of roadside fruit and vegetable markets) is an old quarry that was filled with water and is now a major rowing and swimming hub on hot summer days for the locals. There are running routes around the lake, a drinks stand for water and you can finish with a dip.
Parc de la Torse
If you’re near Aix-en-Provence, join the morning joggers skirting the river Torse – past the yoga lessons and keep fit trainers working out on the grass. The Torse park is where you’re as likely to find young lovers as families and dog walkers; it’s one of the hubs of local Aixois life.
The south of France has a few national parks and people love the Mercantour because it’s at the foot of the Alps, close to the border with Italy. It’s a great opportunity to try peaceful routes with a steeper ascent.
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The Via Rhôna is an 815 km route that runs down the Rhone Valley from the Alps in Switzerland to the south of France. From Geneva, it passes through Lyon, Avignon and stops west of Marseille at the sea in Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône. Plenty of opportunities to find 20 or so kilometres for a peaceful and historic run.
The Verdon gorge is Europe’s answer to the Grand Canyon and it winds its way into the Sainte-Croix lake. Even though the lake gets busy in the summer, its sheer size hides the masses of people.
The small island of Porquerolles, off the rugged coast of Hyères, is a jogging haven. It’s a protected area, where eucalyptus trees have been planted for shade and where cars aren’t allowed. Check out our guide on when and where to go.