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.
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.