Over the summer, or anytime really, it can be challenging to keep your teenager(s) away from their screen(s). Let me help you by suggesting eight fun activities that even your almost-adult child will like. Ok, it might take some persuading to drag them out with you. But once outside, they might risk enjoying themselves offline. Most activities are water-related, however there are also a few non-aquatic surprises.
What better way to spend a summery day than on the water? At Obouées in Ceyras near Clermont-l’Hérault, you can rent individual rubber tubes with paddles to go tubing on the Lergue river. Lots of fun in a lush, green setting guaranteed! Floating along the river in an inflatable tube (a ‘bouée’ in French) felt different than a kayak. The pace is slower, and the movements are more flexible. You can book online for one of the departure times every half hour between 10h30 and 14h00, and you can go tubing if you are 9 years old and at least 1.5 metres tall. Don’t forget to bring swim gear and water shoes and, if you want, a picnic.
After having organised many birthday parties in indoor playgrounds (hell on earth…), laser games, and paintball games, our kids have a new favourite activity: treetop adventure parks. And I must admit it looks rather cool to climb into the trees and follow different courses. Therefore, I wanted to try it for myself and packed up the brood to visit Les Rochers de Maguelone. This park in Montpellier’s shadow has everything you need to spend an active couple of hours, including laser games, paintball, playgrounds and outdoor escape games. And of course, ‘accrobranche’, the French name for a treetop adventure park. Besides Les Rochers de Maguelone, our kids like going to Béziers Aventure ( http://www.beziersaventure.com/), and there are many more in the region.
Despite the hot weather, going on a kayaking trip is an excellent idea. You exercise, and the cold water of the river is refreshing and welcome. There are many, many kayak rentals in Languedoc-Roussillon. You will most probably find one if you’re near a river. Our family and I have made several trips, like our day on the Orb River near Roquebrun. Another kayak trip we really enjoyed was on the Gardon River kayaking under the Pont du Gard. If you would like to explore the Mediterranean shore by kayak, that is possible too. For example, in Sète, where my family and I explored the beautiful creeks and cliffs of Sète’s coastline from the water.
Although my family and I aren’t really dare-devils, I have wanted to try canyoning for a long time. A couple of years ago, I finally took Oldest on a trip to the beautiful Gorges d’Hérault just outside of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert. We booked our trip with Alteo Nature, based in Montpellier. They offer plenty of canyoning and climbing guided tours in the Caroux and Cévennes. If you would like to go canyoning in the Aude department, I suggest going to Eaurizon. For the Aude and the Pyrénées-Orientales departments, Oxygen Aventure is worth a try. Oldest and I had so much fun during our 2.5-hour trip in the Gorges d’Hérault. Walking on the shore, rock climbing, jumping from 2 to 8 meters, back in the water and enjoying the amazing scenery. High rocks covered with fairytale-like bushes tower above you, while you float in the greenish water. It’s a magical, beautiful world down in the gorge. And don’t worry, if you don’t feel like doing an activity (like jumping from anything higher than 2 meters…), you don’t have to.
Our kids have wanted to go on electric scooters ever since we visited Marseille in 2019. So, I thought that a leisurely cruise around the beautiful surroundings of Roquebrun, without the risk of getting run over by traffic, would be a cool plan. I booked a tour via Déval’trot in Roquebrun. You can rent a scooter from the age of twelve. The first part of the 2-hour tour started gently, soon to be followed by a more challenging path with some descents a meter high. Don’t worry if you don’t feel comfortable jumping with your scooter; the professional guide helped us all follow the path safely. The views were absolutely stunning, and we had a blast riding our scooters. Not surprisingly, the kids thought two hours of scooter riding wasn’t enough. It was definitely the most liked trip of our summer holiday!
Every time our little family goes to a pebbled beach, we have to collect stones. Somehow, they spark our imagination, and we pile them up or bring them home to draw on them artistically. So, when I saw a message about a stone balancing workshop with artist Baskul (from the French verb ‘basculer’, to fall down), I quickly decided to sign up Middle Son and me. Watching Baskul at work was fascinating. To try to obtain balance, he carefully placed the rocks one on top of the other and searched for that one balancing point that kept his creation together. With gravity, not with glue. And after spending a couple of hours trying for ourselves, Middle Son and I can confirm that now we are hooked too! Sometimes it’s possible to join a workshop with Baskul, check his Facebook page to find out about dates.
Why not combine an activity with doing good for the world? For example, by joining a beach clean-up. Several organisations arrange them here in the South of France, the environmental charity Project Rescue Ocean is a big one. You can check their website to find out about clean-up dates. Founded in 2014, Project Rescue Ocean started when Hérault-born fireman Benoit Schumann created a Facebook page to share pictures he had taken while diving in the Mediterranean Sea. Initially, he just wanted to highlight how plastic and other waste had turned the sea and the beach into a bin. Soon enough, hundreds of people started to follow him, and, with this new following, he felt it was time for some real action. Along with many other enthusiastic people, we helped to clear up the Orpellières beach, between Sérignan and Valras-Plage.
My family and I have visited numerous caves in the South of France. When going with teenagers, you might want to spice up your visit. At the ‘Goufre Géant de Cabresprine’, you can join a guided tour of the underground river, including a canoeing trip. I booked a tour with the outdoor activity company Eaurizon (they also offer other activities such as canyoning, climbing and caving). And after putting on our helmets, overalls, neoprene socks and waterproof shoes, my fellow cavers and I were good to go. Once we had reached the river, we had to wade through the cold water to reach our inflatable canoes. It was an amazing experience to navigate through the caves with their galleries of extraordinary limestone formations. Especially since our group of 10 people were the only ones there to witness all this natural beauty.
If you’re looking for a chilled-out activity, you should give stand-up paddleboarding a try. There are numerous places in the South of France where you can rent sup boards. We went to Canoë Roquebrun, where you can paddle on the Orb River. You can also sup at sea, but apparently that is somewhat more of a challenge, including higher waves. Stand-up paddleboarding is nothing more than standing on a big surfboard, propelling yourself through the water using a single paddle. I thought I would immediately fall off the wobbly board. But none of that. A stand-up paddleboard is much bigger and wider than a normal surfboard, which makes it nearly impossible to fall off. Roquebrun was already one of my favourite spots, our day on the water made me love it even more.
Looking for a refreshing dip, I took the twins, aged 12 years old, on a day trip to Carcassonne Plage. This beach is hidden amid lush nature on the banks of an artificial lake called Lac de la Cavayère. Every year, from June to August, the aqua park of Parc Aquaviva rises up in the middle of this lake. To reach this water park, you have to walk 900 meters from the entrance of the lake. Normally, the twins aren’t too keen on hiking. But with the inflatable water playground in view, they ran like the wind. There are tons of activities to do, such as renting pedal boats, waterskiing, and wakeboarding, to name a few. Arriving at Parc Aquaviva, I installed myself in one of the comfortable deck chairs with a drink. The twins climbed, slid, clambered and splashed away, and had an absolute blast.