What to do in Verdon gorge

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Verdon Gorge: The Must-Do Activities

Browse all outdoor activities in Verdon Gorge

Verdon Gorge: What to do when you get there?

Geography

Verdon Gorge, or Gorges du Verdon in French, is a famous body of water, halfway between Marseille and Nice. The gorge is nearby the French Riviera, in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur région. 


The source of the Verdon is near Col d'Allos hill in the Trois Eveches mountain range. After a 175 km. trip, it flows into the Durance river close to Vinon-sur-Verdon.


Often referred to as the second-most beautiful canyon in the world (after the Grand Canyon in the US), this river canyon is often considered to be one of Europe's most beautiful canyons. It runs 25 kilometers long and up to 700 meters at its deepest point. 


This nature lover’s paradise is in the South-east of France, relatively close to big cities such as Nice, Grenoble, Cannes, and even a 2.5 hour drive from Monaco. While it may take a 2-3 hour drive, it will be worth it- the Gorge feels like a visit to a totally different (and breathtaking) country. Verdon Gorge is also right between several other popular areas such as Lac de Sainte Croix, Castellane, and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.


History

This region is quite ancient, with research showing the land formed with deposits of thick limestone during the Triassic period. Later on warm, shallow waters and coral reefs formed. When the alps began to rise, the water pooled below, and the gorge was born.


First inhabited by the Gallic people, or Gauls, the beautiful gorge went mostly unnoticed until the end of the 18th century. It was largely inaccessible except by mule. It was only after Jacques Élisée Reclus, a libertarian geographer and militant French anarchist from Sainte-Foy-la-Grande ( Gironde ) wrote about the area, that it became known. It was later mapped in the 1770’s by Cassini, the first topographic map-makers in the Kingdom of France. 


The first to lead an expedition into the Verdon Gorge was a man named Martel, and the trail is now named after him (Sentier Martel). The initial trail was dangerous, and hotels and restaurants nearby were less than appealing. From 1890-1920, however, production of reservoirs and dams began. Following the reservoir completion, the Touring Club of France created more accessible paths that allowed visitors and hikers to descend down to the gorge much more easily. 


The first tourism began in the 1920’s, and local towns responded by increasing tourism services, hotels, restaurants and viewpoints. 


In the 1990’s Verdon Gorge was well-known as a vacation destination with stunning panoramic views found nowhere else in France. Accessibility for water and mountain sports, were also a draw, as were the beautiful, quaint French towns nearby. Because of the recognition, it became a protected natural site in 1990.


Castellane

Castellane is the closest town to the gorge, and is one of the best place to stay during your visit. The 14th century - old town of Place Marcel offers hotels, plenty of restaurants, nightlife and activity/ tour guides. You can also visit the ruins of Petra Castella, the Church of St. Victor, and more.


Lac de Sainte Croix

The Lake of Sainte Croix, or Lac de Sainte Croix, is a reservoir at the mouth of the Verdon Gorge. It was created after the construction of dam Sainte Croix. The Lake has a shallow, sandy area perfect for children and families to relax and swim in the super-clear, turquoise water. Gasoline-powered boats are not allowed in the reservoir. Visitors are however free to sail, and use motorized boats. Many explore the lake by kayak, stand-up paddleboard, and paddle boat.


There are three villages that sit along the shores of the lake; Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon, Bauduen, and Les Salles-sur-Verdon. All the villages are typical of southern France; quite adorable, picturesque places to stay, eat and explore.


Village Moustier Sainte Marie

The Village of Moustier Sainte Marie is an amazing village you can stay at during your holidays at Verdon Gorge. The village sits right at the foot of the lake, and up against giant, momentous cliffs. The buildings are beautiful, cobblestone-lined streets and there is a unique stairway that leads visitors up the cliffside. 

 

Plateau de Valensole

15-minutes from Moustier Sainte Marie, you can find a beautiful valley to visit. This famous Plateau is a vast field of wild lavender, which many tourists love to visit. The fragrance of lavender is calming to the spirit and also makes for an extremely beautiful backdrop for photos.

 

Artuby Bridge

At 182m high, the Artuby bridge, also known in French as Pont de Chaulière, is the tallest bridge in Europe, and therefore one of the best spots for bungee jumping! People come from all over the world to bungee-jump here, so if that’s your thing, this is a must-do!

 

Sublime Point

This is one of the most spectacular viewpoint spots in the Verdon Gorge area. With panoramic views stretching far past mountains and down into canyons, this is a real birds eye experience. It may be a bit of a hike, but it’s well worth the reward. Just below the viewpoint is the village of Rougon. You can stop at the Sublime Cafe after your trek and fuel up for the rest of your summer activities.

 

The Imbut Trail

This trail takes you through a scenic path surrounded by 400m. high boulders, right beside turquoise waters of the Gorge. Hikers have claimed it to be the “most beautiful hike they’ve ever done”. As you descend the trail, there will be stairs carved into the rock walls, as well as man-made metal stairs. The trail also crosses paths with another famous trail called Styx. 


Imbut is suitable for everyone, barring children under 9. Other famous hiking paths include Le sentier de Martel, Le sentier du Bastidon, and Le belvédère de Rancoumas par le pont de Tusset.


One amazing activity you can do along trails at Verdon Gorge is mountain biking. Anyone can do it, and there are trails from beginner to advanced. It’s a super fun, active way to experience the curves and niches of the mountains!


Activities

With the unreal, turquoise waters, warm air from the French Riviera, and stunning views, Verdon Gorge is the highest- rated summer destination in France. But if that wasn’t already enough, there is a bounty of outdoor activities to do here, in a setting that is more than awesome.

Some of the most popular activities at Verdon Gorge are rafting down the gorge and into the nearby Lake de Sainte Croix. Bungee- jumping off of the highest bridge in France also tops the list, as well as aquatic hiking and canyoning through the marvelous narrow waterways and mountains.

Canyoning

As a relatively new sport, Canyoning has taken off quickly. You can imagine the popularity in a place nicknamed the second Grand Canyon! 

Because of the soaring walls of limestone and beautiful winding canyons beside the clear flowing waters, this is a canyoners paradise. You can find guided recreational canyoning excursions in Clue du Riolan. 

The canyons are also a scenic place to go aquatic hiking, and kayaking down the gorge and into the lake. 

Rafting

Because of the dam and reservoir systems, there are whitewater rapids here. This is a treasured spot for those that enjoy rafting, because people of any skill level can enjoy. You can simply raft down calm, flat parts of the gorge and lake, or head to spots where the waters are more wild and offer a thrilling, whitewater rafting ride!

Climbing

With giant, limestone wall faces several 100’s of meters high, Verdon Gorge is yet again an ultimate destination- this time for rock climbers! There are over 1,500 different routes to take- some of which are world-renown. For experienced climbers, this is known to be an epic destination for multi-pitch climbing The pitches encompass cracks, pillars and seemingly endless walls, and range in distance from 20m. to over 400m. But anyone, from a beginner to an expert, can climb here. Climbing classes are available for beginners, as well as more advanced guided climbs.

Via Ferrata

Via Ferrata is also a popular activity here. Via Ferrata is a type of climbing which involves handles, ladders and other man-made materials already built into the walls. This is a great activity, especially for beginners who want to enjoy a climb, and have something solid to hold on to along the way!

Hot Air Ballooning and Helicopters

If ALL of this wasn’t enough, you can see the entire, stunning gorge from the sky by helicopter or hot air balloon ride. These activities are great for small groups, and those who have tired themselves out from a day of white water rafting or climbing! Come visit the Verdon Gorge with your family and friends and enjoy the numerous activities this unique spot has to offer!

 

 

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Around Verdon Gorge

Valberg
1 activity
Fréjus
8 activities
Le Cannet-des-Maures
1 activity
Cannes
16 activities
Mercantour National Park
11 activities
Auron
1 activity
Sisteron
2 activities
Pra Loup, Espace Lumière
7 activities
Antibes
22 activities
Nice
37 activities
Laragne-Montéglin
2 activities
Les Orres
6 activities
Cap-d'Ail
1 activity
Monaco
10 activities
Tallard
1 activity
Lake Serre Ponçon
19 activities
Embrun
3 activities
Vars, La Forêt Blanche
12 activities
Breil-sur-Roya
20 activities
Gap
6 activities
Hyeres
32 activities
Risoul, La Forêt Blanche
11 activities
Aix-en-Provence
5 activities
Rocchetta Nervina
1 activity
Toulon
3 activities
Toulon
3 activities
Gémenos
1 activity
Eygliers
1 activity
Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer
4 activities
Mont Ventoux
7 activities
Cassis
2 activities
Queyras
3 activities
Alpii Maritimi
2 activities
Sanremo
2 activities
Marseille
11 activities
Calanques
8 activities
Vallouise
1 activity
Ecrins National Park
3 activities
Briançon
7 activities
Brianconn
2 activities
Serre Chevalier
20 activities
San Lorenzo al Mare
1 activity
Martigues
3 activities
Imperia
1 activity
Liguria
2 activities
Monetier, Serre-Chevalier
3 activities
Les Deux Alpes
6 activities
Avignon
1 activity
La Grave
8 activities
Saillans
1 activity
Alpe d'Huez Grand Domaine
10 activities
Alpe d'Huez
5 activities
Valfréjus, Haute Maurienne
4 activities
Chamrousse
9 activities
Albiez-Montrond, Les Sybelles
2 activities
Le Corbier, Les Sybelles
1 activity
Les Sybelles
3 activities
Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse
1 activity
Grenoble
33 activities
Val Thorens
1 activity
Val Thorens, Les Trois Vallées
12 activities
Les 7 Laux
9 activities
Val Cenis, Haute Maurienne
10 activities
Uzès
3 activities
Turin
2 activities
Bessans, Haute Maurienne
9 activities
Saint-Hilaire, Isère
1 activity
Meribel
2 activities
Allevard
9 activities
Bonneval-sur-Arc, Haute Maurienne
5 activities
Courchevel, Les Trois Vallées
11 activities
Mont Bouquet
1 activity
Valmorel, Le Grand Domaine
3 activities
Chartreuse Mountains
3 activities
Moûtier, Les Trois Vallées
1 activity
Val d'Isère, Espace Killy
13 activities
Val d'Isère
1 activity
Gard
4 activities
Tignes
1 activity
Tignes, Espace Killy
31 activities
La Plagne, Paradiski
9 activities
La Plagne
1 activity
Montgirod Centron
8 activities
Chambéry
11 activities
Ardeche
52 activities
Les Arcs, Paradiski
12 activities
Les Arcs
3 activities
Chamoux-sur-Gelon
1 activity
Gran Paradiso National Park
4 activities

See the Verdon Gorge activities on a map

See activities on map

All our activities in Verdon Gorge

Canyoning
Rafting
Kayaking
Rock climbing
    Via Ferrata
      Paragliding
        Microlight flying
          Hiking / Trekking
            Motocross
              Stand up Paddle
                Scooter
                  Hot Air Ballooning
                    Helicopter tours
                      Bungee Jumping

                        Verdon Gorge: What to do when you get there?

                        Geography

                        Verdon Gorge, or Gorges du Verdon in French, is a famous body of water, halfway between Marseille and Nice. The gorge is nearby the French Riviera, in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur région. 


                        The source of the Verdon is near Col d'Allos hill in the Trois Eveches mountain range. After a 175 km. trip, it flows into the Durance river close to Vinon-sur-Verdon.


                        Often referred to as the second-most beautiful canyon in the world (after the Grand Canyon in the US), this river canyon is often considered to be one of Europe's most beautiful canyons. It runs 25 kilometers long and up to 700 meters at its deepest point. 


                        This nature lover’s paradise is in the South-east of France, relatively close to big cities such as Nice, Grenoble, Cannes, and even a 2.5 hour drive from Monaco. While it may take a 2-3 hour drive, it will be worth it- the Gorge feels like a visit to a totally different (and breathtaking) country. Verdon Gorge is also right between several other popular areas such as Lac de Sainte Croix, Castellane, and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.


                        History

                        This region is quite ancient, with research showing the land formed with deposits of thick limestone during the Triassic period. Later on warm, shallow waters and coral reefs formed. When the alps began to rise, the water pooled below, and the gorge was born.


                        First inhabited by the Gallic people, or Gauls, the beautiful gorge went mostly unnoticed until the end of the 18th century. It was largely inaccessible except by mule. It was only after Jacques Élisée Reclus, a libertarian geographer and militant French anarchist from Sainte-Foy-la-Grande ( Gironde ) wrote about the area, that it became known. It was later mapped in the 1770’s by Cassini, the first topographic map-makers in the Kingdom of France. 


                        The first to lead an expedition into the Verdon Gorge was a man named Martel, and the trail is now named after him (Sentier Martel). The initial trail was dangerous, and hotels and restaurants nearby were less than appealing. From 1890-1920, however, production of reservoirs and dams began. Following the reservoir completion, the Touring Club of France created more accessible paths that allowed visitors and hikers to descend down to the gorge much more easily. 


                        The first tourism began in the 1920’s, and local towns responded by increasing tourism services, hotels, restaurants and viewpoints. 


                        In the 1990’s Verdon Gorge was well-known as a vacation destination with stunning panoramic views found nowhere else in France. Accessibility for water and mountain sports, were also a draw, as were the beautiful, quaint French towns nearby. Because of the recognition, it became a protected natural site in 1990.


                        Castellane

                        Castellane is the closest town to the gorge, and is one of the best place to stay during your visit. The 14th century - old town of Place Marcel offers hotels, plenty of restaurants, nightlife and activity/ tour guides. You can also visit the ruins of Petra Castella, the Church of St. Victor, and more.


                        Lac de Sainte Croix

                        The Lake of Sainte Croix, or Lac de Sainte Croix, is a reservoir at the mouth of the Verdon Gorge. It was created after the construction of dam Sainte Croix. The Lake has a shallow, sandy area perfect for children and families to relax and swim in the super-clear, turquoise water. Gasoline-powered boats are not allowed in the reservoir. Visitors are however free to sail, and use motorized boats. Many explore the lake by kayak, stand-up paddleboard, and paddle boat.


                        There are three villages that sit along the shores of the lake; Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon, Bauduen, and Les Salles-sur-Verdon. All the villages are typical of southern France; quite adorable, picturesque places to stay, eat and explore.


                        Village Moustier Sainte Marie

                        The Village of Moustier Sainte Marie is an amazing village you can stay at during your holidays at Verdon Gorge. The village sits right at the foot of the lake, and up against giant, momentous cliffs. The buildings are beautiful, cobblestone-lined streets and there is a unique stairway that leads visitors up the cliffside. 

                         

                        Plateau de Valensole

                        15-minutes from Moustier Sainte Marie, you can find a beautiful valley to visit. This famous Plateau is a vast field of wild lavender, which many tourists love to visit. The fragrance of lavender is calming to the spirit and also makes for an extremely beautiful backdrop for photos.

                         

                        Artuby Bridge

                        At 182m high, the Artuby bridge, also known in French as Pont de Chaulière, is the tallest bridge in Europe, and therefore one of the best spots for bungee jumping! People come from all over the world to bungee-jump here, so if that’s your thing, this is a must-do!

                         

                        Sublime Point

                        This is one of the most spectacular viewpoint spots in the Verdon Gorge area. With panoramic views stretching far past mountains and down into canyons, this is a real birds eye experience. It may be a bit of a hike, but it’s well worth the reward. Just below the viewpoint is the village of Rougon. You can stop at the Sublime Cafe after your trek and fuel up for the rest of your summer activities.

                         

                        The Imbut Trail

                        This trail takes you through a scenic path surrounded by 400m. high boulders, right beside turquoise waters of the Gorge. Hikers have claimed it to be the “most beautiful hike they’ve ever done”. As you descend the trail, there will be stairs carved into the rock walls, as well as man-made metal stairs. The trail also crosses paths with another famous trail called Styx. 


                        Imbut is suitable for everyone, barring children under 9. Other famous hiking paths include Le sentier de Martel, Le sentier du Bastidon, and Le belvédère de Rancoumas par le pont de Tusset.


                        One amazing activity you can do along trails at Verdon Gorge is mountain biking. Anyone can do it, and there are trails from beginner to advanced. It’s a super fun, active way to experience the curves and niches of the mountains!


                        Activities

                        With the unreal, turquoise waters, warm air from the French Riviera, and stunning views, Verdon Gorge is the highest- rated summer destination in France. But if that wasn’t already enough, there is a bounty of outdoor activities to do here, in a setting that is more than awesome.

                        Some of the most popular activities at Verdon Gorge are rafting down the gorge and into the nearby Lake de Sainte Croix. Bungee- jumping off of the highest bridge in France also tops the list, as well as aquatic hiking and canyoning through the marvelous narrow waterways and mountains.

                        Canyoning

                        As a relatively new sport, Canyoning has taken off quickly. You can imagine the popularity in a place nicknamed the second Grand Canyon! 

                        Because of the soaring walls of limestone and beautiful winding canyons beside the clear flowing waters, this is a canyoners paradise. You can find guided recreational canyoning excursions in Clue du Riolan. 

                        The canyons are also a scenic place to go aquatic hiking, and kayaking down the gorge and into the lake. 

                        Rafting

                        Because of the dam and reservoir systems, there are whitewater rapids here. This is a treasured spot for those that enjoy rafting, because people of any skill level can enjoy. You can simply raft down calm, flat parts of the gorge and lake, or head to spots where the waters are more wild and offer a thrilling, whitewater rafting ride!

                        Climbing

                        With giant, limestone wall faces several 100’s of meters high, Verdon Gorge is yet again an ultimate destination- this time for rock climbers! There are over 1,500 different routes to take- some of which are world-renown. For experienced climbers, this is known to be an epic destination for multi-pitch climbing The pitches encompass cracks, pillars and seemingly endless walls, and range in distance from 20m. to over 400m. But anyone, from a beginner to an expert, can climb here. Climbing classes are available for beginners, as well as more advanced guided climbs.

                        Via Ferrata

                        Via Ferrata is also a popular activity here. Via Ferrata is a type of climbing which involves handles, ladders and other man-made materials already built into the walls. This is a great activity, especially for beginners who want to enjoy a climb, and have something solid to hold on to along the way!

                        Hot Air Ballooning and Helicopters

                        If ALL of this wasn’t enough, you can see the entire, stunning gorge from the sky by helicopter or hot air balloon ride. These activities are great for small groups, and those who have tired themselves out from a day of white water rafting or climbing! Come visit the Verdon Gorge with your family and friends and enjoy the numerous activities this unique spot has to offer!

                         

                         

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