Gorges du Verdon

Gorges du Verdon

360° picture of the Gorges du Verdon

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At a glance
Location of property
Location of Flayosc

Location: Flayosc
Region: Var, Provence
South of France
Near: Draguignan

Old village house near the Gorges du Verdon.
Self catering, sleeps 6 More info...

The Gorges du Verdon is one of Europe's great natural wonders; formed where the blue-green Verdon river cuts a deep swathe through the high limestone plateau of Haute Provence. Often called Europe's Grand Canyon, this truly spectacular canyon is over 25 kms long and in places over 1000 meters deep, and the great cliffs are a playground for rock climbers. The world's 2nd largest canyon, it may not compete with the Grand Canyon, Arizona, but it is still the largest canyon in Europe. The Verdon river is named after it's unusual colour. Verdon is derived from the French word for green.

Surprisingly, the magnificent Gorges du Verdon and the Lac de Ste. Croix in Provence, France are relatively unknown to the British. Although a holiday area, it remains unspoiled, especially outside the high season. An excelent area for walking, bird watching or just enjoying the weather and scenery. There are walks and hikes along the river's edge, alongside mountains and some taking in villages or vantage points. Whatever walk you choose, you can be sure of the most awe-inspiring scenery, a wealth of wildlife and a wide variety of wildflowers and plants.

There are actually two canyons which are separated by the Sainte Croix lake. In the midst of a nature reserve, rich in flora and fauna, the scenery here is astonishing. Never really discovered until the beginning of the century, the Verdon Gorges have since then fascinated innumerable visitors.

The custodial villages nestled at the foot of the fault have maintained their old fashioned Provençal appeal. Here you will be warmly welcomed, and thanks to the fabulous natural resources of the area.

Property Details
Provence gite
Two double bedrooms
2 double beds
1 single bed
Sleeps 5
Roof terrace
Fire place
Original spiral staircase
Sperate WC
Large bathroom and bath
Over 8 restaurants and bars
on the doorstep
Lots of parking
Distance to key places
Nice Airport 55 minutes
Toulon Airport 75 minutes
Nearest beach 30 minutes
Nearest train station, Les Arcs 10 minutes
Cannes 45 minutes
St. Tropez 45 minutes
St. Maxime 30 minutes
St. Raphael 30 minutes
Grasse 55 minutes
Marseille 2 hours

The Gorge and Lake are in a Natural Park, and there has been a successful program over the last few years to re-introduce wildlife such as golden eagles and vultures, which can frequently be seen souring above the mountains or down into the Gorge. There are many different varieties of lizards and geckoes to be seen on a hot day as well as crickets and cicadas.

The scenery is enhanced by the abundance of wild flowers and shrubs throughout the year. In April the acacia trees bring white fragrant blossoms whilst the elegant wild irises are a mass of colour and the rarer dwarf varieties in their different colours and hues can often be spotted. May brings the vibrant yellow brooms which abound on the mountain and roadsides. Wild flowers such as the delicate purple columbine, sweet peas, and many varieties of orchid are numerous in the area.

Tthe best time to explore the area is outside of the peak holiday period of July and August, when the weather is not quite so hot, but it is usually sunny and warm. In winter time rainy days are a lot rarer than in England and the days tend to be sunny with cold nights. February is often very pleasant and can be quite warm in the day. At this time of the year there are usually breathtaking views of snowy mountaintops, the area being at the foothill of the Alps. It also enables visitors to take advantage of bargain air fares. The area is about a one and a half hours drive from Nice Airport, which is serviced by a number of airlines including Easyjet and just a little longer from Marseille. However, a leisurely drive through France to the area can be made part of a French holiday.

Accessing the canyon from the west, Moustiers-Ste-Marie or Lac de Ste Croix, gives you the option of driving along the North Rim (D952) or the South Rim (D71, via Aiguines). From the east, the D952 goes from Castellane all the way along the North Rim of the canyon, or you can turn left across the Pont de Soleils and follow the roads past Trigance to get to the South Rim.

North Rim. From a junction 2 km south of Moustiers-Ste-Marie, the D952 goes for 31 km across the northern side of the canyon to Pont de Soleils. The western part of this road has some good views down into the canyon. About the half-way point, at the Col d'Aven, the road crosses the plateau, through lavender fields, passing La Palud-sur-Verdon and on to Rougon, where it returns to the edge of the canyon at Point Sublime, one of the most popular spots on the north rim.

Route des Crêtes. This is a loop road, starting 1 km north of La Palud-sur-Verdon and returning to the village. The full loop of 23 km follows the very edge of the northern rim, with some of the most spectacular views of the canyon. The road is narrow, but much less frequented than the main roads. NOTE: The northern part of the loop-road is one-way, in a clockwise direction; you cannot make the full loop if start directly east from the village of La Palud.

South Rim. From the junction 2 km south of Moustiers-Ste-Marie, the route is the D19 to Aiguines, D71 for 29 km, then left onto the D90, past Trigance, and left on the D955 to the Pont de Soleils where it joins the D952, for a total of 48 km. After Anguines, there's about 25 km along the southern rim of the canyon, with lookout platforms and great views.

A full loop around the canyon is just over 100 km, including the Route des Crêtes, and takes a very full day.


Gorges du Verdon
Gorges du Verdon

Gorges du Verdon
Gorges du Verdon

Lac de Ste. Croix
This magnificent turquoise lake was formed by the Barrage (dam) de Ste. Croix, built on the Verdon river in 1975. Sitting on the open Plateau de Valensole and the Grand Plan de Canjuers, the lake has a feeling of endless space and light. At the northeastern end of the lake at the Pont du Galetas, an almost invisible slot in the mountain wall hides the deep, wild Verdon canyon where the rushing green waters of the river enter the lake.

There are hikes starting from the ancient villages around the lake, such as Ste Croix de Verdon, which nestles just above the lake, Bauduen and Aiguines, which looks down on the lake. There is easy acces to much of the lake shore, and plenty of beaches and picnic areas. The size of the lake, however, accepts the summer visitors without a feeling of overcrowding its vast surface. On the plateau above the Lake are miles of lavender fields, which are truly spectacular when in flower, around June and July. The Lake, which the river of the Gorge feeds into, is normally bright blue, reflecting the sun.

Although the village of Ste-Croix-de-Verdon gave the lake its name, the village of Les Salles-sur-Verdon on the opposite side is more a part of the lake itself: the old village rests 40 m below the surface of the water. When the dam was built, Les Salles-sur-Verdon moved to higher ground, taking some of the old village with it, including the church bell tower and the fountain.

Boat, canoe and sailboard rental is available from just a few places, including the village of Bauduen at the southern tip of the lake, and the village of Ste-Croix-de-Verdon along the northwestern shore.

Countless activities are available :

  • White water sports: rafting, canyoning, kayaking
  • Water sports: sailing, water skiing, fishing
  • Aerial sports: paragliding, free flight, gliding
  • Also possible are the following, climbing, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking
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Lac de Ste. Croix
Lac de Ste. Croix

Lac de Ste. Croix
Lac de Ste. Croix

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e-mail: adrian.gibby@gmail.com
Tel: +44 (0)20 8144 8128