The Low Gorges of Verdon


Grotte de Gaspard de Besse dans les Basse Gorges du Verdon avec La Perle du Verdon

Connecting the lake of Quinson to the one of Esparron, the Low Gorges are a fascinating concentrate of the Verdon Gorges. The splendor of the landscapes they offer and the biodiversity they host amaze young and old. This 11 km long canyon is one of the favorite routes for hikers and kayakers. To walk through the Basses Gorges du Verdon is to immerse yourself in an unforgettable natural and historical heritage.

How to explore the Basses Verdon Gorges?

How to discover these limestone cliffs and immerse yourself in the mysterious and wild universe that surrounds the blue waters of the Basses Gorges? Indeed, whether you are a hiker or a sailor, these wild lands will reveal their secrets to you. However, be careful, some municipal by-laws forbid access to the banks of the Basses Gorges in some places. Ask the Tourist Office or the boat rental company of your departure point for more details.

The hike of the Basses Gorges du Verdon

This historical path goes along the Verdon from its old canal to the Sainte-Maxime chapel. You will discover breathtaking views on this natural reserve. The cliffs, the torrents of turquoise water, the fauna, the flora and the caves, mix here to dazzle you. The hike of the Basses Gorges is considered of moderate difficulty. However, we do not recommend taking young children with you because of the presence of chains and ladders along the way.
This walk can be transformed into a 9.7 km loop (but only a part of it will be covered). In this case, don’t forget to bring a flashlight: the adventure will lead you through dark canyons and mysterious caves. Be aware, however, that municipal bylaws may temporarily close parts of the trail to protect the bats living in this area or for fire risk in the middle of summer. Another option: by sailing on a canoe or electric boat!

Explore the Low Gorges on the water

For a closer look at the clear waters of the Verdon, crossing the gorges by canoe, pedal boat or electric boat is possible. You will find rental service providers at the Quinson and Esparron lakes. We advise you to start from the lake of Esparron in order to be in the direction of the current when you return. If possible, we should avoid windy days because navigation is then much more difficult with a headwind. The weakness of the current will not compensate in this case the strength of the wind and it will be necessary to row!
The crossing takes several hours, even by electric boat, but nothing prevents you from doing only part of it! This walk in the heart of the canyon in complete autonomy will give you the opportunity to discover incredible natural sites.

Natural sites not to be missed in the Basses Gorges

During your crossing of the Basses Gorges, the landscapes will not fail to amaze you. You will be able, moreover, to discover along the water many remarkable sites. In the heart of the cliffs, water and time have carved out caves, each with its own interest. Thus, the Grotte aux Chauve-Souris is a privileged place of reproduction of small chiropterans. There are rare species such as the Capaccini’s Murin or the Rhinolophus. You can also let your imagination run wild in front of the mysterious cave of Gaspard de Besse. This great robber of the 18th century equipped it with a wall of fortification to be able to entrench himself there.

If you hike on the path of the low gorges, your steps will lead you to the entrance of the Sainte-Maxime cave. In this historical place you will be able to observe traces of smoke dating from the Paleolithic era. Higher up, on the limestone plateau overlooking the gorges, is the Sainte-Maxime chapel. This beautiful Romanesque building with a bell tower dates from 1854.

Be careful though, access to some caves are forbidden. They can be admired from the outside and give you just enough to make your imagination run wild.

In the heart of the Basses Gorges : the lake of Quinson

More intimate, but also wilder than the lake of Esparron, this small island of nature will satisfy your needs of serenity.

What to do at Quinson lake ?

With its own nautical base, Lac de Quinson offers all the services necessary to make the most of the waters of the Verdon. Thus, you can rent pedal boats, canoes, and electric boats. As thermal motor boats are prohibited, it is to the song of the surrounding nature that you can picnic with your family in the shade of the pines.

The village of Quinson alone is worth the detour, and its extraordinary Museum of Prehistory will delight young and old. It is indeed the largest in Europe! Moreover, in its reconstituted village at the edge of the Verdon, the museum proposes many animations. You can learn how to carve a flint, make a fire without a match or even shoot with a bow!

Can we swim at the lake of Quinson ?

Unlike in the Basses Gorges canyon, it is not possible to swim everywhere. Indeed, the upstream part of the lake is forbidden to swim. However, downstream of this one, it is possible to splash around on the beaches of Artignosc and Quinson. However, because of cold currents under the surface and a strong presence of algae, it is not recommended to swim there. It is important to remember that swimming in the waters of the Verdon must be done with caution. By respecting certain safety rules, you will be able to enjoy these refreshing waters in complete peace.

Discover the Basses of Gorges safely

Seen from above, the canyons appear to be beautiful and peaceful nature. However, don’t be mistaken! Underwater, the Verdon riverbed presents many geological irregularities, rapids, cold water springs and other secrets that only local professionals know. In addition, water releases from the upstream dam can cause the water level to vary. It is therefore imperative to respect the bathing limits and the safety advice indicated on the Verdon beaches.

The Verdon Park is a protected nature reserve. In order to preserve this splendid microcosm of wild nature, you should inform yourself before any activity about the zones accessible by foot or by water. The activity provider will also give you instructions to follow in order not to damage the flora or disturb the fauna.

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