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Chilling in the Provence heat!

Wow, what a Summer we’ve been having in Provence! With soaring temperatures, it really has been amazing for those of us who love to make the most of the heat of the summer. Still, there are times when even the most ardent heat lovers want to cool down for a bit. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a little bit of ‘chill time’ in Provence! The Umbrella Sky Project Early morning and the sun is already climbing to 30C. A terrace umbrella provides a welcome reprieve. But for those seeking shelter in Aix-en-Provence, one umbrella just doesn’t cover it! The Umbrella Sky Project was devised by artist Patricia Cunha in Portugal, 2011 and has since spread worldwide. From 26 June for two months Place François Villon in Aix-en-Provence will host 600 multi-coloured umbrella canopies. They will provide shade and shelter for passing pedestrians. Numerous pop-up parasols are installed overhead to help cool the pathways in a creative and cost-effective approach. The span of umbrellas form a unique, geometric pattern causing changing shadows on the road below. Furthermore, these artistic shade structures launched over urban alleyways provide ideal material for many an Instagram grid! Gorges du Toulourenc Take a tranquil walk in the calming beautiful Gorges du Toulourenc. If you prefer a quieter hike, start in Veaux and head downstream towards Malaucene. Closer to Malaucene is more populated and will appeal to the more adventurous types with rock climbing. Old or water shoes are a must, as is taking a succulent picnic. Water levels in the region can often run low from June, but the Ouveze and Toulourenc remain high due to being fed by several sources from Mount Ventoux. Canyon in the Gorges du Loup For an exciting and refreshing excursion, nothing beats white water rafting in the Gorges du Loupnear Cagnes-sur-Mer. Race through the ravines in translucent, wavy waters for a refreshing exhilarating experience. Lap up the lakes Whether made by Mother Nature or man, there are some wonderful wild swimming opportunities in Provence. Some are tiny with a heavenly peaceful vibe, whilst others are huge and begging to be surfed or sailed on. Many of the artificial lakes are used to store water and generate electricity. Uncrowded, fresh and surrounded by mountains or rolling hills, they will be sure to recharge your senses. France’s third largest lake hasn’t been around for as long as many of the other French lakes. In fact, Lac de Sainte Croix only dates back to 1973 when the Sainte Croix dam was built across the Verdun River. However, there is nothing faux about this lake. Surrounded by forests and hills there are swimming areas with sandy beaches. And, as an added bonus, there are lifeguards on duty too. The limestone geology of the area gives the lakes an azure hue and it remains warm up until late October. A popular place to kayak, windsurf and sail. Ecologically – only sail, human powered or electric motors are permitted. Sailing at Lac de Serre-Ponçon Drift over to Lac de Serre-Ponçon for an introduction to sailing. An instructor will teach you all you need to know about the art of navigation whilst revelling in the stunning scenery of the lakes and little creeks. If you’re looking for something really novel, spend the night on a sailboat and enjoy waking up to the lake’s magical ambiance. Kayaking in the Calanques Hop aboard a kayak to explore the secret treasures of the Calanques fjords between Marseille and Cassis. Paddle peacefully for breath-taking scenery including clandestine coves and natural caves. Make the most of the fjords’ distant discreet beaches to enjoy a well-earned rest. Wild snorkelling Why not beat the heat with total submersion in the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean. Discover hidden treasures by grabbing a mask and snorkel and make your way to the warm waters around Marseille for a unique snorkelling experience. You can either explore independently or with a guide. One opportunity to explore the seabed is the Corbières Marine Trail. This trail starts from Fortin beach and leads to the meadow Posidonia under the fort. However, this route is not recommended for the elderly. Marked snorkelling trails are indicated with buoys equipped with submerged maps, often rest areas, and are a safe way to enjoy this shallow water excursion. Follow the Sentier Marin de Corbière snorkelling trail to get up close and friendly with the fish. It’s easy to navigate thanks to the informative underwater panels attached to buoys. From Marseille, take the shuttle over to the island of Frioul for a 15-minute walk to the cove of Saint Estève. There are five buoys housing submerged maps.  They will enlighten you about the environment you will experience, and the aquatic species you’ll be likely to encounter. This free of charge trail is accessible to all, but children must be accompanied by adults. Alternatively Catalan Beach in the heart of Marseille offers a trail made up of 6 buoys, equipped with rest bars. Each buoy provides underwater information about the flora and fauna with differing themes. These include life in the sea, history of the Catalans and rock life. Blackcurrant beach in Cassis not only sounds scrumptious, it is also the location of a 20-30 minute trail comprising of 4 buoys with immersed informative maps. Here you can either swim independently, or with a guide. These are just a small handful of cool discoveries to be found in the warmth of Provence and perfect for keeping the heat at bay during your holidays. Enjoy! Su Stephens is Owner of Olives & Vines. Olives & Vines is a luxury holiday company based in the South of France offering stays at their beautifully designed holiday house and boutique hotel in Le Castellet. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Su Stephens

Stephens is Owner of Olives & Vines. Olives & Vines is a luxury holiday company based in the South of France offering stays at their beautifully designed holiday house and boutique hotel in Le Castellet.

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  1. An Umbrella Sky, that’s so cool, literally! It’s hard to imagine 30 degrees on a morning as someone living in the UK. In theory it sounds lovely, but I bet it doesn’t take long before it becomes unbearable. I’d like to go snorkelling, especially with the  Corbières Marine Trail going under the fort. Definitely a great location for those who like swimming; I wonder how warm the water gets when it’s over 30 degrees outside? I bet it’s lovely!

  2. I’ve come across the Umbrella concept elsewhere in the world, I think the last time I saw it was in Mauritius. One minute it was giving shelter from scorching sun and then the next minute it was proving some shelter from the rain.

  3. I struggle to understand the growing craze for wild swimming in the U.K. it just takes too long for our grey waters to heat up after a dragged out winter. Provence with its long hot summers though is very different. In fact it’s hard to stay out of the clear blue waters when the temperature’s consistently over 30 C.

  4. Blackcurrant Beach and Catalan Beach really have got it cracked. Swimming from buoy to buoy gives you some exercise. Then you get to learn about the underwater flora and fauna too. I like the idea of going at your own pace and taking a rest when you need to. It’s such a great idea that I hope it spreads to other destination.

  5. I’m just not a hot weather person. Even though you are recommending loads of cooling activities within ten minutes of getting out of the water I’m feeling all frazzled again. Worse still I struggle to get to sleep when it’s hot.

    I love Provence and for me it’s even better in September or early October. The kids are back at school and there are far fewer people around. Although the edge has gone off the blistering temperatures the water temperature is still ideal for swimming. Great suggestions but I’ll wait until next month thanks.

    1. I find myself thinking the opposite, Peter. I’m always cold so I love the idea of Provence when the temps are high. But you’re right, it’s not always easy to sleep in the heat. I also prefer the idea of it being less busy and crowded so September could be a good compromise!

  6. Heat can either make or break a holiday. Of course the one controllable is opting for accommodation with air-conditioning. I always believe that if I get a good night’s sleep then I’m ready for anything. There’s some great cooling activities recommended here but you do need to be well rested and raring to go to make the most of them.

  7. The Gorges du Toulourenc wow how beautiful does that look. I have to admit I love a bit of kayaking and the gorges do look like somewhere I’d love to check out. Do you know if there are any places locally you can hire kayaks from.

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