Off-Track Activities – French Grand Prix

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Your guide to off-track activities in Le Castellet, Marseille and further afield. The French Grand Prix takes place on June 20-23, 2019.

Circuit Paul Ricard is situated in the south of France, with Marseille to the west and Toulon to the east. The track was built in 1969, and hadn’t hosted an Formula 1 race since 1990, until last year. If you’re headed to the French Grand Prix in June, then make sure you set some time aside to explore the local area and beyond. Arriving in the region on the Thursday would be a good idea; that way you get to immerse yourself in some French culture.

ATTRACTIONS NEAR CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD

  • OK Corral is a family-friendly wild west themed amusement park, nestled in the countryside just a short drive from the track. The park features stunt shows, roller coasters and a water park. The park caters for all and has a mixture of tame amusements and rides that would satisfy the biggest thrill seekers. OK Corral is open from 10:00 until 18:00 and offers free parking. There is also the option to stay on-site, so that’s always an option is you’re still searching for accommodation for the French Grand Prix.
  • Kingdom of Trees is another attraction that is also close to Circuit Paul Ricard. One of the biggest adventure parks in Europe, there is plenty to explore. Here, you can become the king of the trees as you climb high above the ground and experience high-adrenaline zip wires. In fact, there is a course made up of just them, the total length being over a kilometre long. For the true daredevils, there’s the Forest Jump, a free-fall plunge from a height of 10m. If you don’t have a head for heights, then there are plenty of hikes you can do around the forest which differ in length and difficulty.
  • Sainte-Baume is another area abundant with culture and history. While the area’s name comes from the mountain ridge that runs through it, the small villages in the area offer plenty of cafes and independent shops to explore. One of the main features of the area is the grotto, which is also labelled ‘The Rock of Mercy’. It’s renowned for being one of the most holy places in France, for it was believed to be home to Mary Magdalene, and has been the place of worship for centuries. The only way to reach it is by foot, and it is a 45-minute hike from the nearest parking lot.

NEARBY CITIES

  • Marseille is the biggest city in the Cote d’Azur region of France with a population of over 850,000. Unsurprisingly, there’s plenty to do, especially if you are staying nearby. The town is rich in heritage and features an old port that was founded in the 6th Century BC by Greek settlers, a castle (which was previously a prison), a cathedral and many museums to visit. Museum highlights include Fort Saint-Jean and Musee d’Histoire de Marseille, where you can find out all about Marseille’s colorful past for an admission fee of just €6. Marseille has a diverse nightlife, so if you are looking for somewhere to celebrate after the race, this is the place to do it! Marseille has an endless number of bars, restaurants and cafes, many of which overlook the Mediterranean sea or the harbor filled with luxury yachts.
  • Toulon is often considered less touristy than the rest of the towns along the French Riviera, which can make it more appealing if you want to escape the hustle and bustle. The town is popular with locals for its shopping and restaurant culture. So if you are looking to eat like a local, here is the place to come. Les Tables de la Fontaine is considered one of the best restaurant for French cuisine in the area. Prices in Toulon are also considerably cheaper than in neighboring Marseille, which makes it even more attractive to visit.

A MOTORSPORT ROAD TRIP

There’s a perfect opportunity for a motorsport-themed road trip if you’re heading to France in June. The legendary Le Mans 24 hour race takes place a week before the French Grand Prix, which opens up the opportunity for a 600 mile road trip between the Circuit de la Sarthe and the Circuit Paul Ricard. The trip could offer stops at Paris, Bourges, Clermont-Ferrand and Lyon before reaching Marseilles, giving you the chance to soak up the very best of what France has to offer!

COTE D'AZUR'S NATURAL BEAUTY

The Cote d’Azur region of France is packed with plenty of natural beauty spots, all a stone’s throw away from the Circuit Paul Ricard. There’s the stunning mountain ridge at Sainte-Baume around 50km from the track, while the incredible coves of Calanques are also equidistant. The beautiful beaches of Cannes are a little further along the French Riviera and Monaco is also only 2.5 hours away from Le Castellet, so a trip to the principality at a less hectic time that race weekend could be a good choice! Click here for our guide to the best things to do in Monte Carlo.

Find more ideas for your French GP trip

Where are your favourite places to visit in the south of France? Leave a comment!

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About the Author ()

My name is Helena and I am a motorsports enthusiast. Alongside this, I have a passion for travel and exploring new destinations. I study Journalism at City, University of London and hope to continue with writing after completing my degree.

Comments (1)

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  1. Steve Kingsley says:

    Hi Helena,

    My 15 and 18 year old son’s are coming to Le Castellet in June for the Grand Prix. This will be our first ever race and we are so excited. My boys are serious F1 enthusiasts so I want to make the weekend perfect. We live in the U.S. and they will be traveling with their mom and grandmother in Europe prior to the race. I am meeting up with them in Rome on June 19th. I need advice on the best way to get from Rome to the race area and sites to see along the way. Once near Paul Ricard, where to stay, either in Le Castellet or perhaps within and hour or so. Lot’s to plan and I’d love a local’s point of view. Thank you , Steve

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