Located near many of our villas in Provence, the Gorges du
Verdon is the spectacular canyon carved out by the river Verdon between
Castellane and Manosque. Surrounding the edge of the gorge is a road which
makes for one of the most unforgettable road trips in France, offering 90km of
The recommended starting point of this unrivalled circuit is
the village of Moustiers Sainte Marie, a pretty place which does get crowded
during the busier times of year. Following the circuit anti-clockwise, the road
will next cross the Pont de Sante Croix, where below you you will see the
Verdon flow into the Lac de Sainte Croix. If youre planning to make a stop at
the lake, you can explore it further by hiring a boat or kayak.
From the lake, youll then follow the D19 towards the
hillside village of Aiguines, where you can stock up on local produce and wares
from the small shops and restaurants. This is the true beginning of the journey
around the gorge, where the road becomes a windy one. Narrow with plenty of
hairpin bends, be sure to take care when driving on these roads. Stopping
points are also few and far between, so be sure to make the most of the ones
that are there to capture some stunning photos.
There are however a few stopping points where it is well
worth pulling over, as the views they boast are truly spectacular. These
include the Hotel Restaurant du Grand Canyon and just before the Tunnels du
Fayet. The latter isnt for those with a fear of heights, as the tunnels are
carved into the wall of the canyon. Even more amazing views can be found 6km
further up the road at the Balcons de la Mescla.
After this point, the road leaves the gorge, heading down
onto the D90 towards the authentic Provencal village of Trigance. Here youll
be able to explore the villages quiet narrow streets, and there is also a bar,
bakery and restaurant where you can get yourself some refreshments.
Heading towards the village of Rougon, youll be able to
follow the river at the very foot of the gorge for an impressive four kilometres,
where youll then climb to the top of Le Point Sublime, an excellent
viewpoint which offers sweeping views out over the entire gorge. In the village
of Rougon itself, youll discover a small group of houses clustered over a high
ridge, as well as the ruins of an ancient castle.
The next village you will encounter some eight kilometres
later is La Palud sur Vernon. From here you can choose to return to Moustiers
or see the northern part of the gorge via an additional loop of road. The
return route to Moustiers is a simple one, where youll be able to take in yet
more views of the Lac de Sainte Croix on your travels. The additional loop
around the gorge, following the D23, should only be taken clockwise, as part of
the road is one-way only. There is much less traffic on this section of the
road surrounding the gorge, as well as a number of stopping places which make
for some dramatic viewing spots.
Image: Mike Slone,
Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho, available under Creative Commons
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