The Gorges du Verdon, an immense and sumptuous canyon in the south of France, straddles the departments of Var and Alpes de Haute Provence. The river Verdon has carved its way through a breathtaking limestone landscape, earning it the reputation of being the most beautiful canyon in Europe. It is so impressive that it is even nicknamed the “Grand Canyon du Verdon”. People come here for white-water sports (canyoning, kayaking, etc.), but also for hiking, to discover the villages of yesteryear and for sensational activities such as paragliding and mountain biking.
The Gorges du Verdon
These gigantic limestone cliffs are the result of erosion by the Verdon river. Amidst protected natural areas rich in flora and fauna, dotted with villages on the edge of the fault, the panoramas offered by the Gorges du Verdon are grandiose and breathtaking.
The Verdon Regional Nature Park covers 188,000 hectares in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Var départements. It is home to the Gorges du Verdon and Lac Sainte-Croix, as well as the Plateau de Valensole, the Lower Gorges, the Collines du Haut Var, the lakes and mountains of Verdon and Artuby.
The Verdon can reach depths of 700 metres!
Map and plan of the Gorges du Verdon
Map of the Verdon Park in France
The canyon of the Gorges du Verdon divides the Pre-Alps of Castellane and the Pre-Alps of Digne. They are located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, 1 hour’s drive from Draguignan and 2 hours from Cannes or Nice. Below is a map showing the location of the Verdon Regional Nature Park in France.
Plan of the Gorges du Verdon
Here’s a tourist map to help you locate the must-sees on a tour of the Gorges du Verdon. Located between Castellane and Lake Sainte-Croix, the Gorges themselves stretch from “Pont de Soleils” (near Point Sublime) to “l’Imbut”. The part of the Verdon stretching from Castellane to Pont de Soleils is called the pregorges, while the canyon runs from l’Imbut to Pont de Galetas.
How to get to the Gorges du Verdon
To get to the Gorges du Verdon and spend a spectacular holiday there on its blue waters, Here are the options available to you:
By car :
The nearest town to the Gorges du Verdon is La Palud-sur-Verdon, which is crossed by the D59 departmental road. La Palud-sur-Verdon is :
- 100 km from Cannes
- 150 km from Nice and Marseille
- 300 km from Montpellier and Lyon
- 800 km from Paris
To get to the Gorges du Verdon by train, the nearest station is Grasse, 47 km away. From Grasse railway station, you can hire a car, take a taxi or catch a bus to Castellane (line LER 31 Nice-Sisteron-Grenoble ). You can buy your ticket on board the bus.
To get to the Gorges du Verdon by plane, the nearest airport is Toulon-Hyères at 145 km.
➜ Find your flight at the best price:
Must-sees in the Gorges du Verdon
All along the Verdon, from Quinson to Castellane, there is a succession of charming villages and breathtaking panoramas, both on the passages where the river passes through narrow canyons and on the immense Lac de Ste Croix.
The most beautiful stretches of the Gorges du Verdon
The three must-see sites in the Gorges du Verdon are Le Styx (mini canyon), l’Imbut (narrow passage) and la Mescla (horseshoe). All three are very close to La-Palud-suir-Verdon. These passages are close to each other
The best viewpoints in the Gorges du Verdon
Here are the most remarkable viewpoints over the Verdon river, its lakes and gorges, so you can take some superb photos and enjoy the view.
The Dent d’Aire viewpoint
The Belvédère de la dent d’Aire is a viewpoint on the Route des Crêtes, a 24km panoramic route dotted with 14 lookouts. It makes a loop through La-Palud-Sur-Verdon, and getting around it is a real adventure! This belvedere is reputed to offer the best panoramic view of the Verdon.
The Balcon de la Mescla
The Verdon river forms a horseshoe called “la Mescla”. The Balcon de la Mescla is a belvedere offering a sensational view of the Gorges. It is located on the Blanc-Martel trail, one of the Verdon’s most famous hiking routes. To get there, take the Verdon Park shuttle bus.
Le Point Sublime
The Point Sublime is a lookout situated at the foot of the village of Rougon at the entrance to a hiking trail. It offers a breathtaking and particularly wild view of the Samson couloir, the gateway to the canyon.
The Galetas bridge
The Pont du Galetas is a road bridge over Lac de Sainte-Croix. It is the most popular lookout point, as all holidaymakers pass over it.
Where to swim in the Verdon gorges
The emerald, turquoise and heavenly waters of the Verdon invite you to take a dip. However, swimming is not permitted in the gorges, canyons and many wild spots, as it is dangerous.
To take the plunge, head for the Verdon lakes. Of course, you’ll be able to swim to your heart’s content in the large Lac de Sainte-Croix, but you’ll also find less-frequented spots at Lac d’Esparron and Lac de Quinson.
Where to stay near the Gorges du Verdon?
Map of villages near Gorges du Verdon
The best options for staying near the Gorges du Verdon and exploring them with ease are to stay between Moustiers Sainte Marie, Aiguines and Castellane.
Although Moustiers Sainte Marie is a small, peaceful village typical of the region, it is nevertheless the tourist centre, the busiest and, above all, the best equipped in terms of tourist facilities and departure points for excursions.
You can opt for Moustiers or for a more unusual and less crowded place like Aiguines or La Palud sur Verdon. As for Castellane, it’s a large village with a rich history that’s well worth a visit.
The best places to stay near Gorges du Verdon
1 – In Moustiers sainte Marie
Moustiers sainte Marie is nestled against a rocky escarpment and is known as “La crèche Provençale” (the Provençal cot) because a hanging star has protected its inhabitants for centuries. It is the most central location in the heart of the Gorges, an ideal site for easily discovering the region, and there is plenty of quality accommodation on offer.
➜ I highly recommend staying at the “Les Lauriers” bed and breakfast in Moustiers sainte Marie. Impeccable cleanliness, absolute peace and quiet, private terrace and ideal location.
2 – Aiguines
This small village has become a regional climbing capital thanks to the many climbing routes it has to offer. Old streets, chapels, castle… many are the charms of Aiguines, this small village with ancient charm.
➜ I recommend staying at the superb “Chabassole“.
3 – Accommodation in La-Palud-sur-Verdon
The centre of La-Palud-sur-Verdon, a tiny potters’ village, is the starting point for the Route des Crêtes tourist trail and other walks and mountain bike rides.
➜ In La Palud, there’s a charming place to stay: La Ferme de Bourras!
4 – In Castellane
The large village of Castellane, bordered by the turquoise waters of the Verdon, is renowned for its old town. Partially surrounded by its ancient ramparts, it is rich in history and monuments to the past. It is a particularly lively place during the summer season, and its privileged location for exploring the northern end of the gorges make it a popular holiday destination, with all the amenities you need to explore the region and enjoy sporting activities.
Sporting activities in the Gorges du Verdon
The Gorges du Verdon are particularly renowned for the many activities you can enjoy there.
You can choose from rafting, canyoning, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, fishing, paragliding, climbing, hiking, horse riding and mountain biking.
➜ If you would like us to organise a week of tailor-made activities for you in the Verdon (canyoning, hiking, rafting, cycling), ask for a quote (free and without obligation).
How do I get around the Verdon gorges?
By car, scooter or motorbike
Visiting the Gorges du Verdon by car means taking the Route des Crêtes to admire exceptional panoramic views from the 14 lookouts.
Canoeing is a must if you want to discover the Verdon at the foot of its impressive cliffs! Many agencies offer canoe hire, either on your own or with a guide, depending on the difficulty of the route.
Many signposted footpaths allow you to walk for miles along the banks of the Verdon. Not to be missed are the sentier Blanc Martel, the sentier de l’Imbut and the sentier du Lézard. To find out about the shuttle services that take you to the trailheads, click here.
The gorges and lakes of the Verdon are surrounded by green trails for cycling.