The Gorges du Verdon in the south of France is one of the most spectacular places I have ever seen. The cliffs multiplied by the unimaginably turquoise-green water makes this one of the most unique places in France in my book.
The Gorges du Verdon is the perfect addition to any South of France itinerary. However, there isn’t much good information on how to visit the Gorges du Verdon, what to do, or where to stay nearby.
In this post I’m going to show you the best way to explore the Verdon Gorge, a true hidden gem in Provence!
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What is the Gorges du Verdon?
The Gorges du Verdon is one of the largest canyons in Europe at 15.5 miles (25km) long and 0.4 miles deep. It was formed by the power of the Verdon River that today empties into the man-made Lac de Sainte-Croix.
The vastness of the Verdon Gorge means that there are many different ways to explore the area based on your preferences.
For those that want to enjoy water sports, there is swimming, kayaking, and boating on the Lac de Sainte-Croix. If you want to explore via land, deeper into the Verdon Gorge, you can go camping, hiking, and driving in the Gorges du Verdon Natural Regional Park.
Where is the Gorges du Verdon?
The location of the Gorges du Verdon is between the towns of Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southern France.
The Gorges du Verdon is comprised of three main sections:
- The pre-gorge from Castellane to Pont de Soleils
- The deepest part of the Gorge, from Pont de Soleils to l’Imbut
- The canyon from l’Imbut to Lac de Sainte-Croix
The main portion of the Gorges du Verdon where you can kayak, canoe, and pedal boat is located at the point where the Verdon River meets the Lac de Sainte-Croix near the Pont du Galetas.
Is Gorges du Verdon Worth Visiting?
Absolutely yes! I would highly consider adding an afternoon at the Gorges du Verdon to your Southern France itinerary. It is the perfect way to cool down from the heat in the summer and a great place to enjoy beautiful scenery all year round.
Keep reading for my suggestions on the best things to do at the Gorges du Verdon which will help you decide how much time to spend here.
What is Gorges du Verdon Known For?
The Gorges du Verdon is known for the gorgeous turquoise-green water. The color of the Verdon River is completely natural caused by the reaction of algae and fluoride.
Not only is the color of the water mesmerizing, it is a perfect way to cool down from the hot French summer days. In the summer, many locals and tourists alike will be out on the lake looking for an escape from the heat.
What To Do in Gorges du Verdon
Kayaking, Canoeing, and Pedal Boats on the Gorges du Verdon
My favorite way to explore the Gorges du Verdon is by getting out on the water. There is a public beach called Galetas Beach on the south side of the lake where you can enter for swimming.
You can also rent a kayak to explore the Gorges du Verdon, or if you prefer a pedal boat or motorized boat, those are available too. Whatever mode you decide on, you will start out your tour on the Lac de Sainte-Croix and you are allowed to go about 2 km into the canyon.
I highly recommend renting a kayak or canoe to explore the gorge which will allow you to see waterfalls, and admire the limestone cliffs up close.
There are two different areas where you can find the water sport rental companies, on the left and the right side of the Galetas bridge.
Rental Companies on the South Side of the Lake:
Verdon Canoe – Kayaks or canoes for rent (1 – 2 hours)
Kako Beach – Motorized boats for rent
MYC Plague – Pedal boats for rent
Rental Companies on the North Side the Lake:
Base de l’Etoile – Canoes, kayaks, pedal boats, and motorized boats
Activité nautique – Kayaks or canoes for rent
Time spent: 2 hours
Pro Tip: Most of the rental companies will take credit card, however I recommend having some cash incase the company you are trying to use does not.
Hiking at Gorges Du Verdon
If you want to get off the beaten path and explore more of the dramatic limestone cliffs, consider one of the many hiking trails in the park.
The most popular hikes in the Gorges du Verdon National Park area are:
- Blanc-Martel Trail ending at point sublime lookout – 8.4 mile hike (hard) with outstanding views
- Sentier Vidal (l’Imbut)
- Sentier du Bastidon
Time spent: Depends on the hike you choose!
Admire the View from the Ponte du Galetas (Galetas Bridge)
From the Pont du Galetas, you will see one of the most classic views of the Gorges du Verdon. This is the point where the Verdon River peeks out from the towering limestone cliffs to meet the Lac de Sainte-Croix.
However, you shouldn’t just stop your car on the bridge. There is a parking lot (Parking Pont du Galetas in Google Maps) to pull over and park for free. From here it is a short 2 minute walk along a pedestrian sidewalk to a safe viewing area.
Time spent: 20 minutes
Viewpoint of Lac de Sainte-Croix
For an alternative view of Lac de Sainte-Croix and Pont du Galetas but from above, you’ll want to add this viewpoint in your itinerary. From the Pont du Galetas, getting to the viewpoint of Lac de Sainte-Croix takes about 15 minutes via car up into the cliffside.
Time spent: 30 minutes (mostly drive time)
Drive La Route des Crêtes (Ridge Road)
La Route des Crêtes (“the Ridge Road”), a 15-mile circuit around the canyon. It is a panoramic route with 14 different belvédères or viewpoints to stop along the way.
The belvédères are established pullovers in the roads with barriers and plenty of room to safely pull off the road. These viewpoints overlook the Verdon over a height that can exceed 700 meters above the river.
The Ridge Road (Route D23) starts near the town of La Palud-sur-Verdon about 30 minutes driving from the Lac de Sainte-Croix.
Time spent: 1 hour
Where to Stay Near the Gorges Du Verdon
Camping at Gorges Du Verdon
Another popular way to explore the Gorges du Verdon Natural Regional Park area is to camp in it!
If you are the camping type, there are over a hundred different camping options near the Gorges du Verdon and Lac de Sainte-Croix.
Depending on whether your trip to the Gorges du Verdon will be centered around water sports or hiking trails, you may consider some of the below camping sites. I have also included one with an amazing water park if you are traveling with kids!
La Source – campsite located near Lac de Sainte-Croix
Camping Boulogne – campsite located in Boulogne, France near hiking trails
Marvilla Parks Camping des lacs – located in Régusse, France a 4-star camping site with a waterpark
Camping Chasteuil Verdon Provence – family oriented camping site
Hotels near Gorges du Verdon
One of my favorite towns in Provence, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, is only 10 minutes away by car. This is actually where we stayed for proximity to the best lavender fields in the Valensole Region of Provence. Getting to the gorge from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie was extremely easy and pain-free!
However, there is no bus or train going in between the towns and the gorge. Therefore you will need a car or a taxi to get to the Verdon Gorge if you are staying in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie or any of the other surrounding towns.
Here are some hotels I would suggest to stay near the Gorges du Verdon:
La Bouscatière – located in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
La Maison du Courtil – located in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Maison d’hôtes et de bien-être dans le Verdon – Close by the Lake
Ferme Para Lou – located in Sainte-Croix-de-Verdon
I hope that you have an amazing time exploring the Gorges du Verdon. If you are planning a trip and have any remaining questions drop them in the comments below.
If you have been to the Gorges du Verdon area in Provence, and have any additional recommendations on what to do or where to stay, drop those in the comments as well!
Looking for more France inspiration? You may also enjoy these France related posts:
- Where to Find the Best Lavender Fields in Provence
- Villefranche-Sur-Mer: Discovering the Most Colorful Town in the French Riviera
- A Complete Guide to the Best of Paris
- 16 Prettiest Streets in Paris & the History
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