Where are the Gorges du Verdon?
The Gorges du Verdon are located in the south of France. More precisely, it crosses the departments of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Var in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.
If you are planning a trip to Aix-en-Provence or the French Riviera, the stunning Gorges du Verdon in France make an easy day trip. From the Côte d’Azur, the Gorges du Verdon is about a 2 hour drive northwest. The Gorges du Verdon also perfectly completes an itinerary in the South of France between hilltop villages and lavender fields.
Pro advice: Here are 11 reasons to fall in love with Provence.
What are the Gorges du Verdon?
The Gorges du Verdon are one of the largest canyons in Europe. It was carved out by the Verdon River, which flows for 15.5 miles and empties into the artificial lake Lac de Sainte-Croix. Limestone cliffs vary in height throughout the canyon, but sometimes go up to 0.4 mile. The views are spectacular from the cliffs.
And the shimmering turquoise water? The natural and magical color of the Verdon River comes from a combination of a specific algae and fluoride.
Given this magnificent natural setting, there are plenty of activities to do in the Gorges du Verdon, and the monument attracts millions of visitors every year. But it wasn’t always like this!
This part of France was underwater about 250 million years ago. As a result of geological miracles like plates moving to create the Alps and glaciers moving and melting, the Gorges du Verdon formed, with its soft and remarkable limestone cliffs that we appreciate today.
What to do in the Gorges du Verdon
The Gorges du Verdon are a paradise for all types of travelers. You can take it slow or take it to the extreme. The possibilities include road trips with spectacular viewpoints, visiting small towns, hiking, climbing, relaxing on the shores of Lake Sainte-Croix and a multitude of water and extreme sports.
A completely pleasant and not too tiring way to enjoy the Gorges du Verdon is to rent a paddle or a kayak at Lake Sainte-Croix. Paddling in the emerald green water and letting it run over your fingers is quite an experience. Pull your kayak to shore and admire the brave cliff jumpers. Get there early in the day as it is a very popular activity. Bring a picnic and relax by the shores of Lake Sainte-Croix.
Pro advice: This business rents kayaks, canoes and pedal boats
Ready for a road trip? Follow La Route des Crêtes, a 15 mile circuit around the canyon. It is an incredibly scenic route with multiple viewpoints and opportunities to observe soaring vultures and peregrine falcons. Get there early in the day to beat the heat and avoid the queues at the viewpoints.
If you are short on time, the view from Galetas Bridge is breathtaking. On one side of the bridge, a view of Lake Sainte-Croix, and on the other, a picture-postcard panorama of the Gorges du Verdon. Here you will see all the kayaks and pedal boats going up the river. The parking lot is such that you can stand on the bridge and enjoy the scenery.
Hikers will be in heaven with all the trails and challenges that this region presents. A famous and popular hike is the Blanc-Martel Trail, a 7 hour hike with exceptional views. You can hire a guide to accompany your group on this hike.
The Gorges du Verdon are also a climber’s paradise, with 1,500 routes to choose from.
More extreme sports such as bungee jumping, rafting, highline and paragliding are also available.
Obviously, the Gorges du Verdon have a general appeal.
Other Attractions In The Gorges Du Verdon Region
One of the must-see villages near the Gorges du Verdon is Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Nestled between vertiginous cliffs, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is known for its maze of winding streets, its ceramic shops and its church perched above the village. Ranked among the most beautiful villages in France, it is charming and definitely touristy!
Castellane is another neighboring village with a lot of character. Its charming streets, five-sided tower and chapel perched on a cliff make it an interesting stopover to add to your adventures in the region.
Plan your visit for shoulder season, as the summer months are very busy.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is an ideal base for exploring the Gorges du Verdon. La Bastide de Moustiers is both an inn and a restaurant with one Michelin star. The village is located near the lavender fields of Valensole, a highlight for many travelers to Provence. You can read more about the lavender fields here.