During the busiest of summer I'm always a bit confused as to why our guests stubbornly get into their cars to join thousands of others on their search for a parking spot and subsequently a little square for their towel on a packed beach.
Don't get me wrong, I love the beach, but you also have to be realistic. The best time to go to the beach in the South of France is not when everybody else does. (more on that later)
When the kids get bored of playing in the pool or going for treasure hunts in the forest, or when you simply feel the need to move a little but are put off by the heat, let me suggest the following: Le Col de Vence. A popular destination for cyclists and UFO spotters, but also for regular mortals who like impressive panoramas, clean air and in most cases, lower temperatures than down at the coast. Go on a horse ride or get a map and hike one of the many trails.
On little trail that I recommend and for which you don't necessarily need a map is this one:
Make your way up to Vence and take la route du Col de Vence (D2). Once you make it to the top, pass the horse ranch and park on a little parking on the right where you'll spot this sign. You will pass quite a few of these on your way up so keep an eye on the numbers. It's 143 you need!
Take the path marked with yellow bands that departs from the parking lot (I assume there was once a second sign on the post pictured - pointing to the right), it'll take you down hairpin style, all the way to a little stream.
Some considerate walkers have made sure nobody necessarily has to get their shoes wet, but it does require some balance! Get across the little river and find your way up stream.
(note: I found these directions online in French and took my hike-companion downstream for about an hour first, before turning around. Feel free to explore, the path in the other direction leads you to plenty of pretty views, tasty blackberries - in August anyway - and wildflowers with lots and lots of butterflies, and potentially all the way to St Jeannet)
The author of the French directions recommends walking in the water (which never becomes deeper than 30cm) but we made it all the way without getting our feet wet by scrambling over slippery rocks and balancing over logs laid out over muddy bits by other waterfall chasers.
When you see this you're almost there!
Warning: the water is COLD! (I was there in August) We packed some snacks and I even brought some tea which I was very very happy about after my swim (read: dip).
Le Saut du Ray, ladies and gentlemen! (me for scale)
More details: The drive from Orion to le Col de Vence will take you approximately 25 minutes.
The walk down to the river roughly 30 minutes. The path is uneven and slippery at times and quite the work out on the way back up. Take plenty of water & deep belly breaths!
From the river crossing to the waterfall I'd say it takes another 20 minutes max. Have fun exploring!!!