11 Unusual Date Ideas to Try in the South of France

Take a hike and sleep in a refuge | © Pablo Heimplatz/Unsplash
Take a hike and sleep in a refuge | © Pablo Heimplatz/Unsplash
There are lots of unusual date ideas to try in the South of France – from creating your own signature perfume together in Grasse to hiking up to a refuge on Cézanne’s favourite mountain, the Sainte-Victoire.

Hire a boat around the old fortress

Château d’If is an old island fortress off the coast of Marseilles, where Alexandre Dumas set his fictional story The Count of Monte Cristo. There’s no better way to impress someone with a love of books, than to hire a boat to sail around the island, gaze into the sunset and talk about literature.

A trip around Château d’If is ideal for literature lovers ringo13/Flickr

Share some bouillabaisse with a view

Bouillabaisse is the local fish stew that was originally made by fishermen with rockfish they couldn’t sell at the market. It’s now a prized delicacy and takes 48 hours to prepare. Bouillabaisse is always prepared in restaurants for two people, so it’s perfect for a romantic date. What’s more, there are some fantastic restaurants with sea views that are specialists in this regional delight.

Bouillabaisse is always made for two © Tummy Rumble/Flickr

Solve your way through The Crystal Maze

If you love the TV series The Crystal Maze, where you have to use your physical and mental acumen to solve problems in teams, then you’ll love Mystery Escape in Aix-en-Provence. Located close to the large Rotonde fountain, you and your date can join others to try to solve problems in a series of rooms.

Swim through the Calanque tunnels

The Calanques are a series of sea-water inlets that run along the coastline of Southern France. They’re a good choice for an unusual date because you can hike in, hike out, have a picnic and swim through the tunnels you find along the way.

Swim through the Calanques © akunamatata/Flickr

Go for an organised apéro bain

There are lots of boats that leave from the Old Port of Marseilles that can take you out in small groups for an apéro bain – an evening cocktail and sunset swim. Just perfect to show that special someone how you feel.

Go fishing in Cassis

Cassis is a picturesque fishing village from where you can head out on one of the many boats heading to the Calanques. For a date with a difference, hire a fishing boat instead, preferably at sunset.

Go fishing in Cassis © Mathilde Guichard/Unsplash

Visit a waterfall

Of the many places to go wild swimming in the South of France, (like Pont du Gard in Avignon) one of the most unusual is at Sillans-la-Cascade. You can hike to the top of the waterfall, enjoy a picnic, then trek down the hill following the water downstream. The path is steep, so you’ll need to hold hands and work with each other – a perfect way to forge romantic bonds.

Do outdoor yoga at sunset

There are many respected yoga centres in Aix and Marseilles and some of them offer the opportunity to practice in the outdoors, most often in sublime settings.

YAMA Yoga just outside of Aix © John Bersi, courtesy of YAMA Yoga

Hire a tandem bike around Marseilles

Outside the Golden Tulip Hotel in the new, trendy part of Marseilles, La Joliette, you’ll find tandem bikes for hire. What better way to explore a new city together than on a shared bike ride?

Take a tandem bike around Marseilles © E Rémoleux

Spend the night on Cézanne’s favourite mountain

The Sainte-Victoire is the mountain just outside Aix-en-Provence. Cézanne loved it so much, he painted it almost 100 times. There are some great trails, suitable for walkers of all abilities, and a refuge, Baudino, which sleeps ten people – so you could even spend the night. C’est très romantique.

Hike the Sainte-Victoire © Axel Brocke/Flickr

Create your own perfume in Grasse

Grasse is the home of perfume in the South of France and many of the perfume factories have workshops where you can create your own signature scents. The three major perfumeries in Grasse run these ateliers, so contact Fragonard, Galimard and Molinard individually for more details.

You can create your own signature scent as a couple © John Turner/Flickr