Les Gorges du Verdon
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The Gorges Du Verdon (in French: Les Gorges du Verdon or Grand canyon du Verdon), in south-eastern France (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), is a river canyon that is often considered to be one of Europe's most beautiful. It is about 25 kilometres long and up to 700 metres deep. It was formed by the Verdon River, which is named for its startling turquoise-green colour, one of the location's distinguishing characteristics. The most impressive part lies between the towns of Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, where the river has cut a ravine to a depth of 700 metres through the limestone mass. At the end of the canyon, the Verdon River flows into the artificial lake of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon (in French: Lac de Sainte-Croix).
Because of its proximity to the French Riviera, the gorge is very popular with tourists, who can drive around its rim, rent kayaks to travel on the river, or hike. The limestone walls, which are several hundreds of metres high, attract many rock climbers. It is considered an outstanding destination for multi-pitch climbing. The variety of 1,500 routes encompass cracks, pillars and seemingly endless walls, and range in distance from 20m to over 400m. The climbing is generally of a technical nature.
Les Gorges du Verdon, That Is France's Grand Canyon!
Why Verdon Gorge?
The amazing natural occurrence in France’s Provence region – Les Gorges du Verdon – is worth visiting by anyone in need of a reality check on the passage of time. The huge gorge is France's own Grand Canyon though the comparison might be an exaggeration since the mighty Grand Canyon stretches far and wide than Verdon Gorge. The latter's depths plunge 1,000ft to the emerald-green river below. While the former reaches depths of 6,000ft – such a great disparity.
But the rareness of Verdon Gorge is, nonetheless, striking. The natural canyon that was notably carved by the now turquoise-green Verdon River is a splendid area that attracts visitors from all walks of life. That the Verdon chasm is distinct is no doubt. It stretches to lengths of about 16 miles with the cliffs reaching heights of up to 2,300ft. Being close to the French Riviera makes the Les Gorges du Verdon quite popular with tourists who often hike, kayak or drive around it.
How to Reach France’s Grand Canyon
You can get to Gorges du Verdon via two routes; the route de la Corniche Sublime or the route on the south side of rive gauche (a river). The former route is the most chosen by many visitors as you’re likely to meet large groups of them in buses on this route. The de la Corniche Sublime route has two lanes with sturdy-looking wooden barriers that reassure safety. Then again, it is clearly demarcated with landscapes looking lush and green. All the more reason it’s often used.
Then there's the lesser known route, route des Gorges, on the northern side of rive droite. It's often rugged, dramatic and with less vegetation. It's hardly used by many a visitors albeit boasting spectacular views, too, of the Gorge's towering rock formations that you pass across and at times under them. The best way to visit the Gorge is by public transport or personal car.
What to Do in Gorges du Verdon
There's no shortage of activities either in Les Gorges du Verdon. You can explore the Gorge by taking nature walks, or go canoeing and rafting. Between the towns of Lac de Sainte-Croix (south of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie) and that of Castellane is where every visitor should be. It’s the most impressive part of Gorges du Verdon. For those walking through the canyon, use the Sentier Martel path. It makes for a fantastic walk.
Best Logis and Places to Eat
You'll find excellent offers on good-value family rooms and half-board reductions for children on this logis: Hôtel des Gorges du Verdun, Hôtel Grand Canyon du Verdon, Hôtel le Mas des Collines, and L'Hostellerie de l'Abbaye. Best places to eat in Gorges du Verdon include Bruno, La Treille Muscate, and Café du Midi.