With limestone cliffs several hundred meters high, heavenly blue waters, and the sun of Provence, the Gorges du Verdon are one of the must-see sites in France. This canyon, the largest in Europe, protects a multitude of plant and animal species. The nature there is splendid and breathtaking. But don’t make a mistake: underneath these calm appearances is an incredible number of activities, each more memorable than the last. Whether you go there alone, in a group, with family or friends, the Gorges du Verdon are guaranteed to satisfy everyone. In order to better prepare your stay, here is all that you need to know to organize your vacations in the the Provence.
Where is the Gorges du Verdon?
Located on the border of the departments of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Var, the Verdon Regional Natural Park covers 188 000 hectares! The Verdon river dug a canyon separating the Pre-Alps of Castellane and the Pre-Alps of Digne.
We generally speak about the Gorges du Verdon as a whole. However, they are actually divided into four distinct zones. The pre-gorges extend from the village of Castellane to Point Sublime. From this point and up to Lake Sainte-Croix, stretches the Grand Canyon du Verdon and its vertiginous cliffs. Then, downstream from the Sainte-Croix dam, the green Gorges de Baudinard nestled. And finally, from lake Quinson to lake Esparron, the wild Basses Gorges bring up the rear. Each of these areas is full of its own treasures and will allow you to live varied experiences while you plan vacations in the Provence.
Why are the Gorges du Verdon a must-see destination ?
Nobody leaves indifferent from a visit in the Gorges du Verdon. On arrival, the Verdon riverbed and the villages that border it look like a quiet and wild natural park. Don’t be fooled: they are actually full of surprises and unforgettable experiences for everyone. Paradise lakes and pedal boat rides await those who love to relax and swim.
Sportsmen will never be outdone either. There are hikes of all levels and intense sports activities: rafting, canyoning, floating, canoeing, and many others. Thrill seekers will also find everything they need. Indeed, if rafting down the tumultuous waters of the Grand Canyon is a guarantee of adrenaline, what about the highest bungee jump in Europe? Or what about a paragliding flight with the great raptors ?
And finally, this classified natural park is the promise of a dive into the heart of an intense and strikingly beautiful fauna and flora. That’s why the Gorges du Verdon a must-see destination.
How to get to the Gorges du Verdon?
There is no lack of activities and places of splendor in the Gorges du Verdon. Also, if the nature and the wild aspect of these places were preciously preserved, they are not less fitted out to welcome you. It’s up to each of you to choose your mode of transportation to discover this jewel of the French heritage. In order to get to the Gorges du Verdon there are two options:
The Gorges du Verdon by car
There are two nearest big cities to come on vacation in the Gorges du Verdon are Marseille and Nice. The Gorges du Verdon are full of small hidden nature spots or breathtaking viewpoints at the road corner. Also, to enjoy your visit and stop freely to admire the panoramas, there is nothing better than to travel the Gorges du Verdon by car.
From Marseille, it takes one hour to reach Gréoux-les-Bains, the gateway to the Verdon. From Nice, the nearest access point is Castellane. It takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get there. Once you are in the Gorges du Verdon, nothing could be easier by car: two roads follow the banks and give you access to the villages and sublime viewpoints! On the right bank, the D952 will take you from Castellane to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. On the left bank, the road that starts in Aiguines and ends in Castellane, takes the D71, the D90, and the D955.
The Gorges du Verdon without car
If you are going at The Gorges du Verdon without car, then there are nearest train stations Digne-les-Bains and Manosque. However, you can reach Gréoux-les-Bains with the LER 27 bus directly from the Saint-Charles station in Marseille. With the same line you can then go up to Castellane.
If you arrive by plane, the LER 26 line links the Marseille Provence airport to Digne-les-Bains.
From the airport or the bus station of Nice, the bus line LER 31 allows to reach Castellane.
Note however that once you arrive in the gorge, public transport is not easy to get around. They only serve a limited number of places and are not very frequent. For this reason, it can be complicated to organize a vacation in the Gorges du Verdon rich in activities without a car.
What is the best season to go there?
You need to know which is the best season to go to spend vacations in the Provence Gorges du Verdon “all seasons”. Each time of the year gives this immense canyon a very special beauty. Autumn and winter will delight lovers of calm and nature. Water activities are of course impossible there, but you can enjoy walks and viewpoints in complete peace of mind.
However, if you also want to enjoy the turquoise waters of the Verdon, you can avoid the summer crowds! Indeed, from May to September, the Verdon temperatures allow swimming. From spring to autumn, a myriad of activities in the water, on the cliffs and even in the air are offered to you.
However, if you like the intense heat of summer and its tourist life, think of booking your activities well before your departure. The Verdon and its activities are crowded in July and August. So, if you want to find an in-between time, plan to be early. The calm and serenity of nature are accessible to those who get up early!