Outdoor Activities in Languedoc Roussillon
Information on hiking, biking, canoeing, canyoning and horse riding in the hills and valleys of southern France and on the coast of the Mediterranean. With contact details of regional sport and activity associations...
There is an endless supply of activities for the adventurous and much useful information available. The many rivers, waterfalls and lakes make Languedoc-Roussillon an ideal place for all water sports: swimming, canoeing, kayaking, white-water rafting, windsurfing, canyoning and fishing.
Hiking and Walking
The Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pedestre (FFRP) is the overseeing body for all marked and maintained walking routes in France. It provides information and guide-books (most in French) for walkers in the area.
The region is home to a wide number of hiking trails for all levels of ability and there are literally thousands of marked trails in the area. Most of these walks last between one and three hours.
One of the most famous walks in the region is known as the Sentier Cathare (the Cathar Trail). It begins in Port-la-Nouvelle in the Aude département and crosses west through Cathar country until the Midi-Pyrénées. This route is also popular with mountain bikers and horse-riders.
Another well-known walking route is the E4, an official European long-distance footpath from Languedoc to the Pyrénées through the Black mountains, the Cévennes and then across the Rhone River into Provence.
Top 25 hiking maps issued by the Institut Géographique National (IGN) are available from newsagents (presse) and bookshops.
All nationally recognised trails are categorised as follows:
- GR (Grand Randonnée): Registered hiking trails that often run across the entire country.
- GRP (Sentiers de Grande Randonnée de Pays): Registered regional trails that will take you around a particular region for several days.
- PR (Sentiers de Promenade): Walking and hiking trails for short circuits, lasting several hours.
The French route marking system shows paths by means of signs and blazes.
- For clear explanations of the waymarks, or blazes (balises): Click here
To book a mountain refuge contact the town hall of the commune where the refuge is situated.
- For a list of mountain refuges in the Pyrénées-Orientales: Click here
- To find a mountain guide in the region see the website of the Syndicat National des Guides de Montagne
- Comité Départementale de Randonnée Pedestre de l’Aude
- Comité Départementale de Randonnée Pedestre du Gard
- Comité Départementale de Randonnée Pedestre de l’Hérault
- Comité Départemental de la Randonnée Pédestre des Pyrénées-Orientales
- Comité Départemental de la Randonnée Pédestre de la Lozère
At: Le Bourg, Route de Coste Ebesse, 48700 Rieutort de Randon
Tel: 04 66 47 17 03
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Languedoc-Roussillon has many hundreds of kilometres of off road cycling tracks, and for the more serious cyclist, the Pyrénées is an ideal place for cycling. The Cévennes National Park in southern Lozère has hundreds of kilometres of cycling tracks, as does the Aude department.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Popular areas for canoeing and kayaking are the river Aude and the Gorges du Tarn. Most of Languedoc's rivers are shallow and the canoeing is not very difficult here. Given the large number of rivers in the Languedoc area there are many canoeing and kayaking centres.
Navigable rivers for canoeing and kayaking are classified into six grades, Classes I to VI. Class I being for easily navigable rivers, Class V for extremely difficult, and Class VI for rivers that are only navigable depending on the water level and presenting many risks.
- Website Aqua'rider has additional information: Click here (in French)
There are many organisations providing training, transport and equipment for trips, one day or several.
The sport is monitored by the Fédération Française de Canoë-Kayak (FFCK). It has information on appropriate rivers and expert guides, where available.
- Fédération Française de Canoë Kayak (in French)
Tel: 02 48 89 39 89
- Ligue Languedoc Roussillon de Canoë Kayak
At: 200 avenue du Père Soulas, 34094 Montpellier
Tel: 04 67 41 78 40
- Comité Départementale de Canoë Kayak de l’Aude
At: 17 bis Chemin Farinier, 11300 Limoux
Tel: 04 68 31 61 60
Fax: 04 68 31 61 60
- Comité Départementale de Canoë Kayak du Gard
At: 3 rue Scatisse, 30000 Nîmes
Tel: 04 66 02 08 91
Fax: 04 66 38 92 67
- Comité Départementale de Canoë Kayak de l’Hérault
At: 200 avenue du Père Soulas, 34094 Montpellier
Tel: 04 67 41 78 40
Fax: 04 67 41 78 03
- Comité Départementale de Canoë Kayak du Lozère
At: Rue du Faubourg Montbel, 48000 Mende
Tel: 04 66 49 25 97
Fax: 04 66 49 25 97
Comité Départementale de Canoë Kayak des Pyrénées Orientales
At: 9 Place de la République, 66600 Cases de Pene
Tel: 04 68 38 92 99
This sport is allowed in the summer only, generally 1 April to 31 October. All the skills of caving, diving and climbing are necessary to practice this sport.
There are strict rules concerning the responsible use of all canyoning sites, as regards protection of the ecology, and treatment of the site. Each département sets its own legislation regarding canyoning and where it may be carried out. It is necessary to contact the local mairie to find out if canyoning is authorised in that area.
Canyoning sites in Languedoc-Roussillon include the Cévennes, the gorges around the Mont Lozère and the Mont Aigoual and also the Llech Gorges in the Pyrénées-Orientales.
Mountaineering and Climbing
Languedoc-Roussillon provides a multitude of places for climbing: the steep cliffs of the Cévennes, the Gorges du Tarn, the Gorges de la Jonte, the Gorges du Chassez and the Haute Vallée de l’Aude all provide suitable climbs for beginners and experts.
Professional guides are available and recommended in most areas. They should hold a diploma from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and a qualification from the Mountaineering and Rock-climbing Federation, the Fédération Française de la Montagne et de l'Escalade (FFME).
Information (in French) is available on the grade, training options and availability of guides from the FFME:
- Fédération Française de la Montagne et de l'Escalade
At: 8-10 Quai de la Marne, 75019 Paris
Tel: 01 40 18 75 50
Fax: 01 40 18 75 59
Caving and Potholing
For those who want to practice caving, the caverns of the Lozère Plateaux are among the most famous in France. It is advisable to join a club or hire a guide and special equipment and training is required.
More information on caving and potholing activities from:
- Fédération Française de Spéléologie
At: 28 rue Delandine, 69 002 Lyon
Tel: 04 72 56 09 63
Fax: 04 78 42 15 98
The area is ideal for horse-riding and is a popular destination for equestrian holidays. The Cathar Trail (see above) is probably the most well known horse-riding trail in the region. Other trails include the Circuit des Traboucayres in the Pyrénées-Orientales, le Mont-Lozère, L’Aubrac and the Grandes Causses.
- Comité Régional d’Equitation du Languedoc-Roussillon
At: Haras National, Mas des Tailles, 30700 Uzes
Tel: 04 66 57 69 45
Fax: 04 66 59 63 41
- Conseil des Equidés Languedoc-Roussillon
Fishing organisations in Languedoc:
- Fédération de Pêche de l’Hérault
- Fédération de Pêche de la Lozère
- Fédération de Pêche de l’Aude
- Fédération de Pêche des Pyrénées Orientales