Explore France's 'Grand Canyon', the largest on the European continent and arguably the most beautiful.
HOW TO GET tHERE
The Verdon River is a spectacle in itself. Its wonderfully distinct, bright turquoise-green colour certainly makes this gorge one of the most beautiful in Europe.
Lying between Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, the river has cut an impressive 700 metre canyon out of the limestone rock, creating a striking sight for walkers, kayakers and climbers alike.
There are signs along the river warning you not to go in - and with good reason. Not only is the water glacial and extremely cold, there are hydro-electric plants that warn of sudden releases of large volumes of water.
Verdon Gorge is a well-established rock climbing area, particularly for its outstanding multi-pitch climbing. There are approximately 1500 routes around the area of the gorge and be as long as 400m. climb-europe.com lists in detail the various climbs, routes and grade ranges for each crag.
In the summer months, hordes of tourists from France and beyond descend on the gorge and surrounding areas. The most popular hikes around the gorge are as follows:
Le sentier de Martel
Le sentier de l'Imbut
Le sentier du Bastidon
Le belvédère de Rancoumas par le pont de Tusset
If driving is your preferred choice of sport, it’s possible to do a loop around the most impressive parts of the gorge. According to French tourism sites, the best place to start is in a small town called Moustiers Sainte Marie. They do warn this becomes extremely busy in high season. The total distance of this scenic loop is approximately 90 kilometres and will take a minimum of two hours. For us van lifers, add a considerable amount on to account for narrow roads, hairpin bends and the French!
The D71 and D23 offer the most sensational views and can be found by following the D957 and D952 respectively, from Moustiers Sainte Marie.
We visited Verdon Gorge in January when the temperatures were very low, so we didn't get about much on our first trip there. We actually managed to get stuck in an amazing little car park next to the gorge where temperatures soon plummeted to -10ºC and the road froze, leaving us at the bottom of the canyon for the night!
In the far South-Eastern corner of France lies a particularly special place. A vast canyon, with depths of up to 700 metres, stretches and winds for over 25 kilometres as the Verdon River cuts through ancient limestone. Welcome to Gorges Du Verdon.
Have you visited? Let us know what you thought in the comments!