Road trip Gorges du Verdon in France, a thrilling visit!

A road trip to Gorges du Verdon in France is so worth it! Nestled in the heart of Provence, beautifully located in the South of France, the canyon of Gorges du Verdon offers a wide range of activities and entertainment. From a regional park with spectacular limestone cliffs and natural beauty to winding roads on a scenic route, a visit to a hilltop village, lavender fields and many outdoor and adrenaline activities in the Grand Canyon and beautiful blue waters. Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for one of France’s most spectacular destinations!

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Where to stay

Our main goal was: as long as we are close to the lake and river, we are good. In the end, it is highly recommended to visit by car, and a short drive of 20 minutes to the main points is fine. We therefore chose to stay in the area of Les Salles sur Verdon. A small village close to the water and with a few restaurants. In this area, you will find camping, hotels and B&B’s. We are looking back at a pleasant stay in Hôtel Spa L’Ermitage.

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Things to do in Gorges du Verdon

The activities and things to do during your self-drive road trip to Gorges du Verdon seem to be endless. Especially for the outdoor and adrenaline lovers! But that is certainly not all. After all, would you not love to visit picturesque villages as well? Below we will list the most popular and fun things to do.

Admire the Canyon from the bridge Pont du Galetas

The famous bridge is worth a stop during your road trip to Gorges du Verdon. You will have a great view of the deepest canyon in Europe, and on the other side over the big lake (Lac Sainte Croix Verdon). The Verdon River is 25 KM long and 700 meters high and flows in between impressive cliffs. If we go back 250 million years, the whole area used to be under the sea. The narrow canyon was formed by moving and melting glaciers and the river cutting through. Due to glacial erosion at the source of the river in the French Alps and the limestone rock formations, we can now enjoy the Verdon with beautiful blue, clear and refreshing water. Nowadays, it is a protected national park.

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Rent a paddleboat

When you road trip Gorges du Verdon you might also like some time in refreshing waters! The paddleboat is the perfect activity and is a very famous thing to do in this area. It is very easy to rent a paddleboat. But most importantly, it is peaceful and relaxing. Can you see yourself slowly moving over the gorgeous turquoise waters? With a paddleboat, it is also very easy to go for a water dip and get back on the boat wherever you are!

If you drive between the bridge and Kako Beach Côté Verdon, you will surely see several roads towards the water with renting companies. However, we do recommend that you rent one as close as possible to the bridge Pont du Geletas. To explain further, most companies rent the paddleboat for 2 to 3 hours. And most likely you prefer to spend most of that time inside the canyon. Besides that, it is a bit more relaxing than crossing the full lake before reaching the Gorges du Verdon. We rented the paddleboat for € 35 for 3 hours. Do arrive on time. When we arrived at 9 AM (opening hour), we were one of the last to take a boat immediately. When we arrived back at 12, there was quite a queue waiting (obviously impatiently) in the hot sun for people to return.

Tip: We were surprised about the lack of internet connection in the South of France. Make sure you save your offline maps and destinations before taking off.

Kayaking in Gorges du Verdon

If you prefer to be a bit more active, paddle your way through the narrow canyon! Multiple kayaking options are available, mostly from the same rental companies as the paddleboats. With a kayak, you are guaranteed quicker, as you can speed more. So in case you like to make some extra KM inside the Gorges du Verdon, we would recommend you take this. On the other hand, when kayaking a refreshing swim might be a bit harder. You most likely need to find a spot on the side of the cliffs and leave your kayak partly on land.

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Rent an electric boat

For those liking to speed it up even more without any physical activity, you can also rent an electric boat. Best of all, you do not need a license. We have seen the options for approximately € 80 for 3 hours. It is all fun, and definitely worth it if you like to see more, or even want to cross the lake and enjoy the serene beauty there as well. The only downside is that we were told that you cannot swim and get back on the boat easily. There were no stairs to climb back in, and you could not go to the sides of the cliff with the boat as you had to remain in deeper waters.

Tip: There are a few shadow spots in between the cliffs. However, please be prepared for a day in the full sun. Bring your sunscreen, swim outfit, a hat, water and some food.

Lac Sainte Croix Verdon – Swimming and beaches

Turning to the other side of the bridge Pont du Galetas, you will see a beautiful lake: Lac Sainte Croix Verdon. The well-known man-made reservoir is connected directly to the Gorges du Verdon. It is therefore perfect to enjoy both – the river and the lake. You cannot get out of some water-related hours here amid the gorgeous natural park. If you do not prefer to rent a boat or kayak, you can certainly go for a swim at one of the many beaches around. Such as: Plage du Galetas or Kako Beach.

So relax, breathe in and breathe out and make some nice photos for your memory box. Want to make it even better? Bring your picnic basket for the ultimate experience!

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Hiking

Hike lovers pay attention! Hiking is a must-do activity through the unique natural landscape around. After your long road trip to the Gorges du Verdon, it is time to stretch those legs! You have a wide variety of easy hikes for beginners, to hikes for true professionals. Sometimes they might even take several days. Or perhaps even better, include rock climbing too? We have not participated in any hiking activities. However, as we always do – we want to make travel planning easy for you. Therefore we have listed 3 well-known hiking routes in the region:

  • Sentier Martel – 14KM: one of the most famous trails, but also challenging.
  • Le Sentier de Bastidon – 2KM: more family-friendly and easygoing.
  • Sentier des Cavaliers: for a shorter hike with a mix of nature and village views.

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More adrenaline activities

When you thought that there could not be more, there surely is! As we tried to convince you already, the options are endless here! For those who cannot get enough of the activities in Gorges du Verdon, try out these adrenaline activities:

  • Rock climbing: There are over 1500 rock climbing options!
  • Canyoning: nothing more thrilling than exploring the area while hiking, jumping in the waters and feeling the splashing of the waterfall.
  • Paragliding: Do you prefer some views from heights? Get ready to feel like a bird!
  • Cycling: This is surely not a relaxing bike ride in Gorges du Verdon. No, you can go hard and steep over challenging mountain roads!

Route des Cretes Gorges du Verdon

The Gorges du Verdon is often linked to the Grand Canyon in the United States. It therefore has the nickname “The Grand Canyon of Europe”. Without a doubt, this means that it is excellent for a thrilling scenic drive! Please be aware: more routes in France are called “Routes des Cretes”. You can start the (correct) route in La Palud-Sur-Verdon. Once you enter the small village you will quickly see a sign with Routes des Cretes. Finally, your 23 km drive will start soon!

While driving into the beautiful nature area, you will come across multiple viewpoints. All of them have some parking spaces, and some are also the starting point of a hiking trail. You will have some spectacular views of the Verdon River and the deep canyon with limestone cliffs. You might even see some wildlife! We enjoyed the view of eagles flying over, and observing the area well.

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Visit Moustiers Sainte Marie

If you love picturesque villages, Moustiers Sainte Marie is it for you! After visiting several places in the Provence, we can say without a doubt that this is one of our favourites! It was very hot during the day, so we took the opportunity to explore at the end of the day, and around sunset. Even if parking was very challenging, once we found a spot after 30 minutes, it was a blessing for the eye! This village is WOW! While it might be busy, take it easy and stroll around before going for a delicious dinner. There are some great restaurants around.

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Moustiers sainte marie, Gorges du Verdon, Road trip gorges du verdon, Gorges France, villages in Provence

Visit local markets

Who doesn’t like to visit some charming local markets? You cannot skip this during your road trip to Gorges du Verdon! Taste some local food or try out products from the Provence. Very famous in this area is the Lavender and Soap (mostly from Marseille). But that is not all! In the summer, the Verdon Gorges will have multiple markets at night. Now that is an amazing vibe! See a list below of the options:

Day markets:

  • Wednesday: La Palud Sur Verdon
  • Thursday: Les Salles Sur Verdon
  • Friday: Moustiers Sainte Marie
  • Saturday: Valensole

Night market:

  • Monday: Les Salles Sur Verdon
  • Wednesday: Moustiers Sainte Marie
  • Thursday: Riez
  • Friday: Gréoux-les-Bains

Guided tours to Gorges du Verdon

Go for a guided tour if you like some extra service, and especially a hassle-free option to still road trip the Gorges du Verdon region. You might even explore and learn more than when doing it all yourself. The day tours often also bring you to another natural beauty: the famous lavender fields in the Provence. It is very easy to hop on board of a tour from the main cities like Nice, Cannes or Aix-en-Provence.

How to get to Gorges du Verdon

A visit to Gorges du Verdon does require some planning, as it is not directly located next to the main access points. If you decide to go for a day trip from the French Riviera, please be aware that this can be a long day. Below we we list a few options for your road trip to Gorges du Verdon:

  • By car: Obviously, a road trip is something you do by car. And that is what we did. It is by far the most convenient way the easiest way to travel. And therefore we highly recommend that you, if you do not have a car available, rent one. It will not only save you a lot of time, but you can also enjoy the great views and scenic roads! The drive towards the Gorges region is already a show with mouth-dropping views. It is very easy to reach Gorges du Verdon from the French Riviera (approx. 2 to 3 hours)
  • By train: The train does not seem to be a convenient way of transportation to Gorges du Verdon.
  • By bus: There are some regional connections to reach Gorges du Verdon by bus from Nice or Marseille. Check the local bus schedules (or Google Maps) and routes to plan your trip accordingly. So far, it seems that the quickest connection is between Marseille and Gorges du Verdon. It will take you about 2 to 3 hours to get there.
  • By plane: The closest airports are Nice and Marseille. However, also from here, you will need additional transportation by (rental) car or public transport.

Tip: Always check for any road closures or special conditions, especially if there are weather warnings.

The best time to visit

The best time to visit the Gorges du Verdon for your road trip really depends on your wishes and activities. Spring and fall might be preferred if you wish to enjoy the nice nature areas, but not the summer heat. Perfect for hiking for example. On the other hand, the summer is ideal for swimming and boat rentals. Nonetheless, these are also months that all activities, restaurants and shops are open.

Tip: The south of France and Provence are popular during the high season (July – August). If you can, it is best to avoid it. However, we visited around the 3rd/4th week of August and even if there were tourists around, it did not feel like mass tourism.

Roadtrip in the South of France

A road trip to the Gorges du Verdon is an unforgettable trip. Additionally, we highly recommend you continue your trip to other regions in the South of France! The French Riviera has so much to offer! Nevertheless, you might enter a more jet set and city life. Be amazed by Nice, Monaco or smaller and picturesque Menton. For an ultimate experience, try our itinerary that even crosses borders to Italy! The true bucket list road Trip: France to Italy – South European Itinerary.

To sum up: the Gorges du Verdon road trip is one for those looking for nature, activities and adrenaline. But the region has so much more to offer, above your expectations!

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