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Gorges du Verdon: An Insider’s Guide to the Hidden Wonders of France

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If you’re on the hunt for spectacular hidden wonders of France, the ultimate one has to be the majestic Gorges du Verdon, located in the picturesque South of France. Gorges du Verdon, also known as the Verdon Gorge in English, is fondly nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of France”. It is, in fact, the largest and deepest canyon in Europe.

Gorges du Verdon is one of the best places to visit in the South of France. It’s about two hours from most nearby cities, so I highly recommend making a whole day out of it by visiting a few of the charming nearby villages.

This incredible natural wonder is one of my favorite places to visit each summer. I love taking friends and family who are visiting here since it’s not the easiest place to get to, but it’s definitely worth the journey. Continue reading to discover everything that makes this place one of the best hidden wonders of France!

Quick Facts

Category Details
Location Southeastern France
Region Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
Depth 700 meters (2100 feet)
Activities Rock climbing, kayaking, electric boating
Who Sports enthusiasts, families
Distance from Nice 85 miles

The Significance of Gorges du Verdon

View of Gorges du Verdon from the Pont Galetas bridge in the south of france
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

Gorges du Verdon is the deepest gorge in France, making it one of the top must-see natural wonders in the country. Cliffs surrounding the gorge range from 600 feet to a soaring 2300 feet tall. The gorge eventually leads to the gorgeous Lac de Sainte-Croix, a manmade reservoir and popular swimming spot.

Visitors can admire the gorge from above, either by car or by bike. For an even closer look, the gorge hosts a plethora of watersports, including kayaking, paddleboarding, and electric boating. Fishing is not permitted in the gorge but is permitted for some species in Lac de Sainte-Croix.

Best Time to Visit

Aerial view of Gorges Du Verdon in France
Grigory Bruev / Adobe Stock

Undoubtedly, the best time to visit the Gorges du Verdon is summer. The stunning turquoise water absolutely stuns in the summer months.

Since much of the water is snow run-off from the mountains, it’s pretty chilly for most of the year. Summertime is your best bet for enjoying the water.

If you don’t plan to swim in the gorge, then I recommend driving around it in the fall. It is absolutely lovely to see the gorge against the backdrop of changing fall leaves, and there are plenty of places to stop along the way.

See Related: Most Beautiful Small Towns in France

How to Get There

The view from the winding road adjacent to the Gorges du Verdon in France
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

The only way to reach the Gorges du Verdon is by car. I recommend renting your own car for the day, but there are also many tours originating from the largest cities in the South of France. If you’re coming from Nice or Marseille, about half of the ride will be on winding country roads, so be prepared if you’re prone to car sickness.

For directions, search for “Pont du Galetas” on your navigation. Simply typing in “Gorges du Verdon” or “Verdon Gorge” will not take you to the swimmable area. Driving will take approximately two hours from Nice and Marseille or 1.5 hours from Aix.

From Nice: Get onto the A8 highway heading west and take Exit 36 towards Saint Tropez. Stay on D1555 heading towards Draguingian and stay on as it changes to D955. Continue onto D49 towards Aiguines to get to Pont du Galetas.

From Marseille: Get onto the A8 highway eastbound and take Exit 34 towards Barjols. Continue onto D560 to Aups and then turn onto D60, then to D957, heading towards Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

From Aix-en-Provence: Follow A51 and D6 to D6A in Valensole. Take RD8 (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence) to D953. Follow D953 to D957 into Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and follow signs to Pont du Galetas.

Tours to Gorges du Verdon

Things to Do in Gorges du Verdon

Kayaking and Canoeing

Couple on a kayak in the Gorges du Verdon in the South of France
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

Kayaking and canoeing are the most common activities in the gorge. Many people bring their own canoes and kayaks, but there are several rental places surrounding Pont du Galetas where you can rent equipment by the hour. If you are kayaking, plan to be out for at least two hours, especially during busy weekends.

Paddleboarding

Man paddleboarding in Gorges du Verdon, France
M.studio / Adobe Stock

While I haven’t seen any paddleboard rentals on Lake Sainte-Croix or near the gorge, if you can rent or bring one, I highly suggest doing so. It’s an awesome way to enjoy the gorge, get some exercise, and relax on the lake. My husband and I had an inflatable paddleboard that we would bring up to the lake and gorge every summer, and it was seriously one of our favorite summer activities.

Electric or Pedal Boating

Pedal boats on the shore of the Gorges du Verdon in the South of France
Woodrow Matthews / ViaTravelers

If you want a more relaxing experience to admire the magnificent views of the Verdon Gorge, rent an electric or pedal boat. Both can be found near Pont du Galetas.

I recommend Pedalos chez Nounet or Kanojano. These places usually only take cash, so have at least 20 euros on hand. This is my favorite way to experience the gorge, especially when older relatives are visiting.

See Related: Most Famous Historical Landmarks in France

Picnic

A pair of beach chairs, umbrellas, and a paddleboard on the shores of Gorges du Verdon and Lac de Sainte Croix in France
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

The best way to end your time on the gorge is by having a picnic on the shores of Lac de Sainte-Croix. Choose from the beach’s sandy shore or in one of the large, grassy areas.

There is only one small store near the Plage du Galetas parking lot where you can purchase snacks and drinks, so I recommend bringing your own. Also, bring lots of water!

Visit nearby attractions

A lavender field in full bloom in Puimoisson, France
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

Lac de Sainte-Croix and Gorges du Verdon are extremely close to some other fantastic places to visit in Provence. If you visit in late June to mid-July, this is the best time to see the incredible Provence lavender fields in full bloom. I highly recommend driving around to see this!

Another great stop is Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a tiny village on the official list of the most beautiful villages in France. This charming mountainside town is known for its lavender products and ceramics, which make perfect souvenirs for your time in Provence.

FAQ

Why is the Gorges du Verdon famous?

Gorges du Verdon is the largest and deepest gorge in Europe, therefore making it one of the must-see natural wonders in France. In the summer, it attracts countless tourists from around the world.

Is Gorges du Verdon free to visit?

Gorges du Verdon is free to visit year-round. Parking is also free. However, you will have to pay a fee for rental equipment such as kayaks and electric boats.

How long do you need at Gorges du Verdon?

Plan to spend at least two hours visiting the Gorges du Verdon. This will account for actually swimming or participating in watersports. You can also admire the gorge on a quick drive or bike ride.

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