The Gorges of the Verdon

During one of my many trips to Provence we went to discover the Gorges du Verdon, a spectacular area located in the Provence Alpes – Côte d’Azur department.

From the most elegant French village to the discovery of a scenic canyon

I had decided to take a romantic trip with my partner and after evaluating some solutions, we agreed to discover the South of France by car to enjoy every possible panorama.

The sweet Provence, I confess, won me over with its soft colours and the small but colourful village of Valensole which many have described as one of the most elegant villages in all of France. I was lucky enough to go there at the end of June when the lavender plants show all their splendour, especially in the area called plateau de Valensole, where the flowers highlight all their beauty and the thousands of shades they are capable of.

I thought that after seeing the boundless expanses of lavender, emotions from a naturalistic point of view had reached their peak, but other surprises awaited us in this wonderful region just a few kilometres from Italy. I decided to continue our exploratory journey beyond what we had already planned and hearing about the Gorges du Verdon, Ornella and I extended our holiday to get to know another reality of the Provencal territory.

Verdon Gorges - Canyon
Gole del Verdon – Canyon – Photo credit: Paolo Bertinetto on / CC BY-SA

Idea immediately accepted also because of its proximity to Valensole. In fact, through the Route Départementale 562, it was possible to easily cover the almost 130 kilometres, in only two and a half hours to enjoy the landscape we were crossing.

Gorges du Verdon, a summer holiday destination

During my stay in Provence, I was informed about the gorges of the Verdon, Gorge du Verdon in French, and thanks to a series of articles recovered from the net, I knew that these were formed by the river Verdon which, after covering less than one hundred and eighty kilometres, flowed into another river and then flowed into the sea.

Gorges of the Verdon where they are

The Verdon area is located in the Provence Alpes – Côte d’Azur department on the border with the department of Var and the Alpes de Haute-Provence. This territory, thousands of years ago, was practically occupied by water and only in the Tertiary was it formed together with the Alps. The gorges, made up of corals, fossils and limestone, have been shaped over the millennia, especially during the Ice Age, while the erosion that formed the gorges is due to the continuous work of the river that, descending overwhelmingly towards the valley, was able to dig the high walls until they became real gorges worthy of a Colorado canyon.

Gorge du Verdon Video

Verdon Gorges by car

The perfect way to visit the Gorge du Verdon is by car, but even lovers of two wheels can have endless emotions along this scenic road full of curves to savour. As I was driving closer to the gorges, the dominant sensation was to discover myself surprised by the incredible vegetation that I could admire from the panoramic road: colours ranging from the bright green of the plants to the grey of the rocks to be framed by a deep blue sky. The advice I can give to the reader is to visit the gorges of the Verdon by car or motorbike, taking advantage of one of the two routes capable of bewitching any tourist: that of the North Road, where there are many areas where you can stop to appreciate the picturesque landscape or to take the Corniche which is located on the southern side of the crevasse.

Verdon Gorges what to see

After visiting the Verdon gorges for a couple of days, I can suggest that the most suggestive area is the one between Castellane and Pont du Galetas which is located on the lake of Sainte Croix where the Gorge du Verdon blooms.

Lake Sainte Croix France
Gorges Verdon – Lake Sainte Croix France

It is an area that can be divided as follows: the Canyon that goes from Pont de Galetas to the Imbut; the Gorges that go from the Imbut to Pont de Soleils and the Prégorges that go from Pont de Soleils to Castellane and this area is part of the Verdon Natural Park.

Lake Sainte Croix – Holy Cross Lake

I have to say that taking a bath in Sainte Croix lake was really a nice experience, but above all refreshing. Temperatures in Provence in summer are always very high during the day, so if you have the chance during your trip, I highly recommend you stop and take time for a rest and take a bath in the turquoise waters of the lake.

Verdon a paradise for sportsmen

It is good to know that the gorges attract, especially in the summer, water sports enthusiasts and not only because of the emerald green colour of its waters (a characteristic deriving from the presence of micro algae) but also because of the configuration of the Verdon which makes it possible to carry out many activities. On the Verdon you can go rafting, canoeing, experience canyoning in the crevasses, water rambling or go serenely to discover the calmer parts using a pedal boat.

Gorge du Verdon, the activities to do

In addition to water sports, the Verdon gorges are also famous for free climbing and climbing enthusiasts. The canyon walls, in fact, offer over 800 routes capable of covering all types of difficulty and climbing. Their depth ranges from 250 metres to 700 metres and the most popular locations are Paroi Rouge, Baume aux Pigeons, Escalès and Dérobée.

Verdon Gorge Trekking

Even those who love trekking will find in this place, really interesting and organized paths, through which to explore the gorges of the Verdon, such as the scenic GR4 that starts at Point Sublime and arrives at the entrance of the gorges.

Trekking sul Verdon
Gole verdon – Photo credit: HerryB on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Obviously, if you’re trying it on for the first time, remember to wear suitable sportswear and shoes and to have a detailed map of the area and the practicable paths although, my suggestion is to start with the easy Couloir Samson starting from the homonymous belvedere. I have experienced trekking and I can assure you that it is a way to discover every hidden side of this valley, starting from the beautiful panoramic view that you can enjoy from above and that, as you descend towards the gorge, you will discover every characteristic of the vegetation present.

You have to think that your path will unravel among woods that anticipate the high limestone walls and the white cliff walls, where it will not be rare to see some climbers.

Visit the Gorges du Verdon

I have chosen to stay a couple of days since it was an added stop on the way and not planned but a more in-depth visit is the suggestion I can give you. There are a lot of small villages characterized by Provencal architecture that seem to have come out of some 19th century painting like: The Palud sur Verdon (paradise for paragliding enthusiasts), the Castellane, Riez, Trigance, Moustiers Sainte Marie and Aiguines.

As far as the food and wine offer is concerned, it is possible to find the genuine one made with only local products that are used for the preparation of traditional dishes, but also the Gourmet one. You can find a wide range of tourist places where you can eat while taking care of the budget while maintaining the genuineness of the products.

Provence (READ OUR ITINERARIES) is a land full of surprises and construction sites to do all with different characteristics. Discover them with a click

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