The French Riviera is not just about the glamorous Mediterranean resorts. With many magnificent canyons located within 1-hour drive from the coast you can discover the unique geographical variety of the Maritime Alps. If you want to escape the crowds and packed beaches, head to Mercantour National Park to enjoy a peaceful and quiet atmosphere of the Mediterranean and alpine landscape. If you want to have a fun day out in the beautiful natural settings and feeling for a little adventure – try canyoning (as well known as a canyoneering). This is, by far, the most interesting way to see the canyon, its peculiar beauty, shapes and melting colors.

Gorges du Loup

Canyon Gorges du Loup © Live on Riviera

Tobogganing down a river? 
Thrills of natural pools, slides and waterfalls – Travelling through a canyon you will be admiring the view all along the way from the completely different perspective!

Canyon Barbaira

Abseiling down the cascade of Canyon Barbaira

Canyon Barbaira

Jumping into Canyon

What is canyoning about?
Canyoning is an outdoor adventure sport which consists in walking, jumping, sliding, swimming, and abseiling down the cascades by using specific rope techniques. Descending of steep and narrow canyons often includes working one’s way down active waterfalls. Canyoning became popular about 20 years ago, when the first canyons on the “Côte d’Azur” having been equipped with abseiling stations.

Canyon Barbaira

Canyon Barbaira

Canyoning in the southern Alps

There are more than 170 canyons on the French and Italian Riviera with different length and difficulty so you can choose the best one matching to your desire, expectations and physical condition. Easy ones – accessible for beginners, do not require any abseiling as waterfalls are not higher than 5m. For the advanced level canyons, you need to know specific techniques such as abseiling or tyrolean traverse ropes. Also the time spent in the water may be more than 4hrs so you need to be in excellent physical shape.

Around Nice there are many options for canyoning from easy half day trips to really hard ones. The most beautiful canyons are:

Cramassouri (Vallée de la Tinée) and Gorges du Loup (close to Grasse) in half day trip grade 2.
Barbaira (just behind the italian border) and Bollène (Vésubie valley) in Full day trip grade 2
La Maglia (Roya valley) and Riolan (Estéron valley) in full day trip grade 3.
For more information about grades see Canyon grades

Gorges du Loup

Gorges du Loup © Live on Riviera

How strenuous is it?
Regarding your abilities, you must be in a good physical shape, able to swim and not to be afraid of water or heights. Remember that canyoning is an outdoor activity and you need to practice this activity under the guidance of an experienced instructor.

What do I need?
All necessary equipment for canyoning is provided by the guide, such as: isotherm neoprene wetsuit and socks (remember that even with the neoprene you might feel little chilly from time to time), helmet, life jacket, harness, ropes…You just need to bring swimwear and closed sports shoes so that your feet are well maintained.

After spending an incredible day canyoning in Barbaira canyon with an awesome guide Olivier Germain I would recommend this aquatic adventure to everyone seeking for a lot of fun in a fully preserved nature.




  1. Fantastic article! This side of the Riviera is just as fabulous as the most glamorous coast. I love the Gorges du Verdon and Lac St Cassien.

  2. Thanks for your good article Lenka. It gives a good idea of the fantastic canyons that we have around Nice. Good to show what we also have inland.

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