The Gorges du Verdon – an unforgettable French road trip

30th September, 2016
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 breath-taking vistas.

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 you’re planning to make a stop at the lake, you can explore it further by hiring a boat or kayak.

From the lake, you’ll 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 isn’t 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 you’ll be able to explore the village’s 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, you’ll be able to follow the river at the very foot of the gorge for an impressive four kilometres, where you’ll 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, you’ll 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 you’ll 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