Gorges du Verdon

Nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Europe, the Gorges Du Verdon is one of the most spectacular sites in the world. It is a river canyon located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of Southeastern France, whose name is often shortened to Provence.

Part of Verdon Regional Natural Park, the Verdon Gorge is about 25 km long and up to 700 metres deep, and it was formed by the Verdon River, which is named for its turquoise-green colour, one of its distinguishing characteristics. In between the towns of Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, the river has cut a ravine to a depth of 700 meters through the limestone mass. At the end of the canyon, the Verdon flows into the artificial Lake of Sainte-Croix.

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At the entrance of the Gorges du Verdon, Castellane is dominated by the Roc, an imposing limestone cliff. The Rock (listed as an historical site for its original stronghold) continue to dominate the village and the valley for more than 1,000 years, and a small climb to the top is a must for the best panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. This is where Verdon River starts carving the most impressive canyon from Europe.

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Located in south-eastern France, the Balcony Road of D952 is a narrow road carved out of the cliff above the Verdon River. It’s a hair-raising drive, as the sheer vertical drop is more than 700 metres in some places makes your head spinning. But the actual thrill comes from the way the road is cut in stone, for the very narrow two-way traffic lines, blind curves, and hairpin turns, while little or no guardrail at all in some areas.

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Between several viewpoints along Gorge du Verdon, Point Sublime stands its name. The irregular rugged landscape offers majestic views of the mountains. A short walk can take you to the Belvédère du Couloir Samson, at the gates of the Verdon gorges, and to the Baou tunnel via the Blanc-Martel path.

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Prevailing the center of the Verdon gorges, La Palud-sur-Verdon extends over 8,000 hectares between plains at 800 meters altitude and the surrounding high mountains. The town prides itself with Route des Cretes, with several belvederes of the gorges of Verdon along D23 route. The D23 must be taken in a clockwise direction, as a section in the middle is one-way only. There are a number of dramatic viewing spots along this route, and with less traffic on this loop, stopping can be much easier than other parts of the gorge. Griffon vultures are among the largest birds that can be seen in the gorges du Verdon, and the first two stops along this route are probably the best to spot them.

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The lake of Sainte-Croix opens out from the end of the Gorges du Verdon and is the ideal place for a swim, a sail, boating, or windsurfing. This man-made lake, as well as the Verdon River, is famous for its bright turquois colours, due to the limestone particles reflecting the light on sunny days.

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The Lower Verdon Gorges are less dramatic than the Gorge, but they are no less beautiful and much easier to access. One can either go boating between Quinson and Esparron, or hiking along the old Verdon canal keeper’s path which was rehabilitated for over 3.3 km in 2014, from Quinson, and made a safe hiking route of the Verdon regional natural park.

Lower Gorges du Verdon

~ visited in September 2022

29 thoughts on “Gorges du Verdon

  1. Many people see one photo of the turquoise waters of the Gorges du Verdon in France and know, without a doubt, that it needs to be added to their bucket list and I am definitely one of them. I love the natural and magical colour of the Verdon River! Thanks for sharing and have a good day. I hope Santa was good to you 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True! To be honest, this visit is the result of what we saw 10 years ago when we were driving through this area, heading to Cannes. Only a peek at the exquisite turquoise water, and I’ve been ‘haunted’ since then😊
      Santa was great this year, our daughter came home for holidays, and we’re enjoying the quality time, together. All the best to you and your family, have a wonderful new year 2023! xx

      Liked by 1 person

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