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treat yourself to a life-size adventure in the Canary Islands

In Tenerife, climb on the roof of Spain

The largest island in the archipelago, Tenerife, is 80 km long. Vacationers like to frequent the southern seaside resorts, lined with white or black sand beaches. The green landscapes and steep hillsides of the north of the island, watered by the trade winds and planted with 8,000 ha of vines, are more tranquil. Of the fifty cultivated grape varieties, twenty are unique in the world, such as Listán Negro. Something to surprise the palates, before heading inland. Despite its churches and palaces decorated with ornate balconies, San Cristóbal de La Laguna is nothing like a sleeping beauty. Thousands of students animate the streets of the first capital of the island, founded in 1496. The start is ideal before exploring the flanks of Teide, the highest point in Spain (3,718 m). Between rocky scree and seas of lava, canyons and stone chimneys, the road that leads to the dormant volcano is spectacular. Twenty trails, for all calves, explore its sides. You can also approach its summit by cable car. From up there, the panorama is overwhelming. Even more at nightfall, when the stars shine. Because the sky of Tenerife is one of the purest in the world.

To do : in February, the carnival animates the streets of the capital, Santa Cruz. It mixes balls and parades of troupes of musicians and dancers, reminiscent of the samba schools of Rio…

J. Wlodarczyk/4Corners/Sime/Photononstop.

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In Gran Canaria, discover a patchwork of landscapes

What beach ! A field of 6 km dunes, like a piece of desert stranded on the edge of the Atlantic: Maspalomas is one of the curiosities of Gran Canaria. Jagged like the peaks of Reunion, exotic when clumps of palm trees spring up, refreshing in its pine forests or its meadows dotted with almond trees, the round island concentrates all the landscapes of the world. This patchwork echoes intertwined cultures, between Spanish traditions, Latin rhythms and Berber roots. Wrapped around a cathedral, Arucas is the capital of rum. Compulsory appetizer! Unless you prefer “papas”, potatoes seasoned with mojo, a sauce made with olive oil and garlic. They are eaten at the table of an inn in the village of Tejeda, famous for its white houses and for the view of Roque Nublo and Bentayga, two sacred mountains where the Guanches carved cave paintings and dug tombs. Exterminated by the conquistadors, this people of shepherds left behind many vestiges.

To do : Puerto de Mogán is the Canarian Saint-Tropez. In the south of the island, the city reveals a pretty port with Andalusian accents from where you can go tuna fishing or explore the coast by catamaran…

R. Schmid/Sime/Photononstop.

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In Fuerteventura, navigate between beaches and deserts

The second largest island of the Canaries (for only 100,000 inhabitants) is also the closest to Africa: it is only a hundred kilometers from its coast. We come to Fuerteventura for its floury sand beaches and for its desert landscapes, which oscillate between Arizona and Sahara. What a shock ! The peeled mountains (807 m for the highest), the extinct volcanic cones and the malpas (lava flows) have earned it the classification of a “biosphere reserve” by Unesco; landscapes conducive to solitary hikes. Nothing grows in this mineral setting, except for a few palm trees and dragon trees. Here and there, pocket villages brighten up the scenery. Founded by the Norman Jean de Béthencourt in 1402 and considered the “historic capital” of the Canary Islands, Betancuria has kept its charm intact, with its white houses hidden in a palm grove. We enjoy Majorero goat cheese, smoked or powdered with paprika. The agricultural history also lives on in the salt pans and the windmills, some of which still make gofio, a flour once eaten with water and now used to make desserts.

To do : At the gates of the seaside resort of Costa Calma, in a palm grove, Oasis Park brings together a zoological park with 3,000 animals and the largest collection of cacti in Europe.

ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES

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In La Gomera, enjoy a tropical paradise

We reach La Gomera from Tenerife by ferry (45 minutes crossing). From a distance, with its peaks crowned with laurel forests, its valleys and its canyons which scar the slopes, the small island looks like a giant lemon squeezer! You don’t come here for its beaches, which are inhospitable with their large pebbles and steep cliffs. But to explore the dozens of trails, on foot or in 4×4, which set off to attack the copiously watered green mountains. Above 1,000 m, in the Garajonay National Park, tall trees overgrown with lichens and mosses even play hide and seek with the clouds. Only an opening in the virgin forest, offering a unique view of the ocean, reminds us that we are on an island! Between two hikes, the villages on the mountainside are an invitation to taste their exquisite bananas, one of the local specialities, especially in Hermigua. Its pink, green and yellow houses contrast with the monochromatic walls of the neighboring islands. Another originality that makes the charm of La Gomera!

To do : if you don’t visit the island, you can make do with an offshore excursion from Tenerife, during which you can see 21 species of whales frolicking in the waters.

O.Fantuz/Sime/Photononstop

Ask about : Canary Islands Tourist Office: https://www.salutilescanaries.com

Go : Easyjet, Transavia, Vueling, Volotea and Ryanair offer flights from Paris, but also from regional cities. From €160 round trip. On site, the companies Binter Canarias and Air Europa connect the various Canary Islands (between 30 minutes and one hour flight).

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This article has already appeared in Tele-Leisure No. 1573.

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