In August 1905, Edouard-Alfred Martel and his teammates were the first men to explore the Grand Canyon du Verdon. This tumultuous expedition was largely carried out… by canoe! Today, modern equipment and professional teams have made canoeing in the Verdon Gorges much safer. So why not try an exploration of the Verdon Gorges yourself by canoeing in the Verdon Gorges? Experience a dazzling spectacle close to its incredible nature and with the strength of your arms?
Where to canoe in the Verdon Gorges?
There are many different environments and levels of difficulty along the Verdon. Indeed, if the navigable part of the Verdon extends over 80km from Castellane to Esparron-de-Verdon, some areas are not accessible to all. Here are your options for visiting the limestone gorges by canoe in order to prepare an adventure adapted to your desires.
Lake Esparron, perfect for the whole family
On the waters of the “Pearl of the Verdon“, everything fits together to navigate in peace, without getting bored! This lake with its incredible colors that dominates Esparron-de-Verdon is one of the wildest of the Verdon Gorges. However, with your family or friends, you will find all the comfort and the necessary services. La Perle du Verdon offers you two or three-seater canoes, and kayaks for those who like to be the only one on board. You will be able to discover at your own pace the turquoise waters of this small paradise and the beautiful creeks that border it. In the silence of a preserved nature, you can play Robinson Crusoe on the peninsula of Quartier, a virgin land only accessible by boat. The water temperature can reach 26°C in the summer, ensuring a comfortable swim, even for those who are a little chilly!
Explore the Gorges of Baudinard by canoe
Downstream from the very famous lake of Sainte-Croix, the Gorges de Baudinard and the Basses Gorges follow one another. Separated by the lake of Quinson and its dam upstream, these two superb small canyons offer very different atmospheres. Indeed, the gorges of Baudinard are cooler and deeper, less frequented and less long than the Basses Gorges. Also, one can admire there limestone facades covered with moss, pretty small waterfalls and fresh caves. Little disturbed, the fauna is very present and you can easily observe different species of fish.
However, the water is colder than in the Basses Gorges and is not suitable for swimming. It is even forbidden in the Gorges de Baudinard. This route will therefore delight explorers looking for an intense immersion in nature. It takes about 3 hours to explore this part of the Gorges du Verdon by canoe. Finally, it is also possible to go through them in itinerary within the framework of organized stays.
Exploring the Basses Gorges by canoe
In parallel, for those who like to combine sport and swimming, there is the Basses Gorges. Over 9 km long, this route is full of surprises. Indeed, mysterious caves and green cliffs follow one another. The water temperature is much milder than in the Gorges de Baudinard and calls for a swim. Be careful, however, to follow the instructions of the canoe rental company: docking and diving from the banks are not allowed in the Basses Gorges
Also note: the return trip by canoe is easier because of the direction of the current. The trip between Esparron-de-Verdon and Quinson can be done by electric boat or canoe. You can rent these easy-to-handle boats without a license at the pier of the Perle du Verdon. It takes 4 to 5 hours by canoe to get from Quinson to Esparron-de-Verdon.
What activities to do in a canoe for a thrill?
For some people, canoeing does not necessarily mean a quiet ride, but also sport and thrills. If this is your case, there are two very special experiences to be had in a canoe in the Gorges du Verdon.
Canoeing in the Gorges of Baudinard
Straight from Canada, this type of excursion is a perfect combination of hiking and canoeing on the blue waters. After a short approach walk and under the instructions of a state certified guide, you will launch the canoe you brought along… in your backpack! Developed for exploring remote rivers, these inflatable boats are ultra-light and very strong. For half a day, you will feel like a real explorer of the Verdon. This activity is also accessible to children from 10 years old and is a unique chance for them to get closer to such a well preserved nature.
In the footsteps of Alfred-Edouard Martel: the descent of the Grand Canyon by packraft or rafting
The Grand Canyon du Verdon and its 700 meters high cliffs still look like unexplored terrain, and it’s not without reason. Indeed, this section of the Gorges du Verdon contains rapids and geological irregularities that cannot be crossed without the assistance of a certified professional. These white waters and splendid rocks can only be tackled by kayak, with a guide and under the condition of having a good command of this sport.
However, it is quite possible to explore portions of it by rafting. Many service providers offer the necessary supervision. Emotions, wonder and thrills guaranteed!