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Gorges du Verdon – An Active Holiday Guide

Activity Holidays in the Gorges du Verdon

Activity Holidays in the Gorges du Verdon

The Gorges du Verdon has a well-earned reputation as a hot ticket destination for outdoor sports enthusiasts the world over. Paragliding, rock climbing, slacklining, mountain biking, rafting, kayaking… You name it, you can do it in Verdon.

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Straddling Haute Provence and Var in the south of France, the Gorges du Verdon is a dramatically beautiful area mixing the best of Alpine and Mediterranean terrain. Its centrepiece is a 21 km long and 700 m deep canyon carved by the turquoise-green Verdon river. The cliffs along the river’s banks loom imposingly over the water offering a sensational backdrop for river runners, and the pocketed limestone rock harbours thousands of routes for rock climbers.

The Gorges du Verdon may be the highlight of a visit to the area, but nearby lakes Chaudanne, Castillon and Lac de Sainte-Croix offer less extreme activities. Hire a canoe or pedalo, swim in crystal clear waters that reach 27 degrees in summer, or hike the many trails through the forest along the water’s edge.

If you’ve had a tough few days exerting yourself, a visit to the old Roman town of Gréoux-les-bains with its thermal baths and mineral hot springs is highly recommended.

Getting to the Gorges du Verdon

Travel inland 100 km from the Mediterranean coast, roughly 150 kilometres north-east of Marseille, and you’ll be struck by an imposing landscape dotted with ancient provencal villages – including pretty Moustiers-Sainte-Marie at the western edge of the canyon, and the activity centre of Castellane, which stands guard at the gorge’s eastern edge and serves as an ideal base for exploring the area.

A day trip to the Gorges du Verdon is possible if you’re based on the Mediterranean, but if you’re planning to participate in an activity, you’ll need longer than a day. Bear in mind that accommodation, including campsites get booked up in summer, so book ahead if you’re planning to stay overnight. If you’re driving, be prepared for winding roads through mountainous terrain with incredible views. There are frequent parking spots for taking in the views. There are organised day trips and public transport options as well, with regular service in the summer months from Cannes, Grasse, Nice, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille and between the villages that dot the canyon.

Active Holidays in the Gorges du Verdon

We’ve teamed up with the best active holiday companies to help you organise an unforgettable trip to the Gorges du Verdon:

 

Gorges du Verdon Activities

The Gorges du Verdon region is a lively hub for active holidays and outdoor sports.

Rock Climbing

Nina Caprez rock climbing in the Gorges du Verdon
Nina Caprez rock climbing in the Gorges du Verdon | © Andy Mann, ninacaprez.ch

The jaw-dropping Gorges du Verdon with its steep limestone crags towering over the turquoise river has some exceptional rock climbing routes. There are more than a thousand climbing routes in the Verdon valley, with something for every skill level from novice climbers who can begin their climb from the valley floor to experts looking for the challenging multi-pitch climbing that begins with abseiling in from the top of the gorge.

Most of the climbing spreads along a nine-mile stretch of south-facing limestone cliffs below the 26-kilometre Route des Cretes (the ridge road that forms an open loop from La Palud north of the gorge).

For expert climbers, the Gorges du Verdon is a globally recognised destination that offers both multi-pitch sports climbing and free-climbing routes.

There are plenty of outfitters and guides based mainly in Castellane, Aiguines or La Palud to get you set up with maps and gear. For stunning views over the Lac de Sainte-Croix, choose routes on the left bank of the Verdon river. La Corditelle, based in Aiguines, can set you up with a guide and gear. To climb the big wall routes further north, head to La Palud where the guys at the Maison des Guides du Verdon will be able to help you out. Autumn is the best season for climbing in the Gorges du Verdon when it’s dry and not too hot.

BOOK A CLIMBING TRIP | GO >

Rafting, Kayaking and Canoeing

Tandem Kayaking in the Gorges du Verdon
Tandem kayaking near Castellane in the Gorges du Verdon | © Verdon Photo – Ride The Verdon

What better way to see the Gorges than a trip down the Verdon river itself? Think turquoise water, rapids, mind-blowing scenery and huge amounts of fun! The rafting and kayaking on the Verdon river can be split into three distinct sections of water – the Upper Verdon (Haut Verdon), the Middle Verdon (Moyen Verdon) and the Verdon Grand Canyon itself.

The Upper Verdon runs between Allos and Saint-André-les-Alpes and is accessible to river runners only when the water’s high enough, which generally means the spring and autumn. It’s a fabulous descent with much more of a high mountain feel than the Middle Verdon and the rapids can get seriously fun when the water’s pumping. Rafting companies tend to run this section when there’s no release from the dam at Castellane, or when the water level’s excellent.

The mid section is situated between Castellane and the Gorges with 20 km descents possible. River running is possible when they release water from the dam. The rapids are fairly tame along this section but it’s without doubt one of the most beautiful descents in the southern Alps. Ride the emerald green water all the way to the mouth of the canyon. You can ramp up the excitement with a session of hydro-speeding, which is essentially body-boarding down the rapids.

Tandem Kayaking on the Verdon
The Verdon Grand Canyon is reserved for extreme river runners only. On two days per week, the dam releases a torrent of whitewater which pours through the Gorges as a series of class 5 rapids. The combination of the precipitous canyon walls and high-octane rapids make the 25 km run from the Pont de Carajuan to the Lac de Saint Croix a must do adventure activity for serious adventure seekers. François Hémidy from Ride The Verdon is one of France’s top river runners and will guide you down in a tandem kayak – a truly unique experience!

For a more relaxed experience, pedalos and canoes are available to rent at the Lac Sainte-Croix bridge. Alternatively, you can take a guided canoe tour of the prehistoric La Baume Bonne cave on the Verdon near Quinson, or even a moonlight canoe trip through the gentler stretches of the river and its tributaries.

BOOK A RAFTING TRIP | GO >

Canyoning and Aqua-Rando

Canyoning in the Gorges du Verdon with Couleur Canyon
Abseiling into crystal clear water in the Gorges du Verdon | © Couleur Canyon

For a proper adventure in some of the Gorge’s most pristine and unique landscapes, you have to try canyoning. Squeeze into your wetsuit, which will both keep you warm and protect you from scrapes on the rocks, and leap, slide, swim and abseil your way down the canyon. There are so many possible canyoning descents in the Gorges du Verdon, the sport may as well have been invented for the region.

A good introduction to the sport can be had at the Haut Jabron canyon about 15 kilometres from Castellane. Here, the source of the river Jabron and its caves provide an ideal playground for a couple of hours for kids or beginners.

Canyoners with a bit more experience or chutzpah will enjoy exploring sites such as Saint Auban and Riolan where zip-lining and higher leaps and more hours in the water get added to the mix. Transport to the sites, guides, wetsuits and safety gear are provided by a number of companies in the region.

Our canyoning partners offer full-day and half-day canyoning adventures and cater to all abilities and group sizes. Canyoning adventures are staged in magnificent mountain terrain in remote locations. Take a guide, you’ll be safer and you’ll have a lot more fun.

BOOK A CANYONING TRIP | GO >

Slacklining and Highlining

Highlining in the Gorges du Verdon
Highlining in the Gorges du Verdon | © Pedro Pimentel

Highlining takes slacklining to its most extreme and the Gorges du Verdon is one of Europe’s premier locations for the sport. It involves walking along an inch-wide piece of climbing webbing strung across a gorge and is strictly for hardcore adrenaline junkies only. Verdon was put firmly on the map in 2011 when Seb Montaz-Rosset and his band of Flying Frenchies released their amazing film I Believe I Can Fly, which saw these pioneers in highlining take the sport to a whole new level.

There are designated anchor points set up specifically for highlining along the Route des Crêtes near La Palud, giving you access to spans of 85 m, 160 m high. For advice on safely rigging up a high slackline, check out slack.fr/highline.

Hiking

Hiking in the Gorges du Verdon
Hiking the 14 km Sentier Martel in the Gorges du Verdon | © anfontaine.net

The most famous trail for hikers in the Gorges du Verdon region is the 14 km Sentier Martel with trailheads at Point Sublime near the tiny village Rougon or at the Chalet de la Maline near La Palud sur-Verdon (considered the less strenuous of the two routes as it’s a descent). It can take between five and eight hours to complete and there are two dark tunnels en route so be sure to pack a flashlight or headlamp. A bus runs frequently between the two starting points during the summer months and there are local taxis for hiking in the off season.

Other popular (though not easy) hiking trails in the region include the ten-kilometre Sentier Imbut, which runs directly from the Hôtel Grand Canyon in Aiguines to some of the canyon’s quietest sections, and the shady six-kilometre Sentier des Pecheurs.

There are many less strenuous hikes and rambles in the flat areas surrounding the lakes. And, make sure you check out our favourite Gorges du Verdon day hikes.

BOOK A HIKING TRIP | GO >

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking in the Gorges du Verdon
The Trans-Verdon MTB trail takes in spectacular terrain from Mézel to Gréoux

From mtb routes through the fields of lavender on the Valensole Plateau in June and July to the circuits of Lac Saint-Croix that take in the ancient villages of Sainte Croix, Bauduen and Les Salles sur Verdon, options for mountain biking abound in this region. If you’re looking for pitch and drama, a 100 km circuit of the gorge follows the Route des Cretes (the ridge road). Cycle experts Verdon VTT is based in Moustiers Sainte-Marie and will rent you mountain bikes and gear, arrange supported multi-day tours and even set you up with an electric-powered bike if you want to take it easy.

If you like the idea of a multi-day mountain bike trip, the Trans-Verdon MTB trail is a great option. Beginning in Mézel, ride the 160 km to Gréoux-les-Bains over 3 days via Castellane and Moustiers, taking in a mixture of tracks along the Gorges and high mountain terrain.

Mountain Biking in Verdon & Des Vallées de l’Asse | Go >

Paragliding

Tandem Paragliding Flight over the Lac de Castillon with Aérogliss Parapente
Tandem paragliding over the Lac de Castillon | © Aérogliss Parapente

Experience the splendour of the Verdon Gorge from the air! There’s a launch site for paragliding and hang-gliding high up in the hills near Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, but gusty winds and unpredictable air make it dangerous to fly across the actual Gorges.

North of the Gorges du Verdon, at the top end of the Lac de Castillon, Saint-André-les-Alpes is known the world over as a top paragliding site. 300 days of sunshine per year and reliable thermal winds mean conditions are ideal and some of France’s longest cross-country flights are recorded here. Testament to the quality of the site, the European Paragliding Championships are held here each year. Aéroglisse Parapente offer tandem flights and paragliding lessons from their base in St-André-les-Alpes.

If seeing the Gorge from the skies appeals but paragliding is bit extreme for you, Aero-Provence offer hot air balloon rides across the lavender fields of the Valensole plateau.

BOOK A PARAGLIDING FLIGHT | GO >

Bungee Jumping

Bungee Jumping in the Gorges du Verdon
Bungee Jumping from the 182 m Pont de l’Artuby in the Gorges du Verdon | © latitude-challenge.fr

Thrill seekers can get their bungee jumping buzz from the the 182 m Pont de l’Artuby, the highest bridge jump in Europe, situated at the south rim of the Verdon canyon. If that sounds a bit too extreme and you’d rather a smaller leap to kick-start your bungee jumping career, head to Guillaumes and give the 80 m Pont de la Mariée a go.

Accommodation in the Gorges du Verdon

Hotels and B&Bs

The region is dotted with good hotels and B&Bs. Most of them clustered in and around Les Salles-sur-Verdon, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Castellane and Gréoux-les-Bains, but almost every one of the park’s 43 “custodial” villages has at least one decent place to stay. Most are modest with basic amenities. For luxury stays try Hotel des Gorges du Verdon in La Palud sur-Verdon, a boutique establishment with an attached wellness centre or the palatial Chateau Berne and vineyards about an hour away in Lorgues. Or there’s always the medieval Chateau in Trigance, with its former weapons room dining hall, antique furniture and panoramic terrace. Or the Grand Hotel Bain in Comps-sur-Artuby, which holds a Guinness World Record for being the longest family-run hotel ever – seven generations.

Here’s a selection of our favourite places to stay:

Auberge des Salles – Les Salles-sur-Verdon

From 73 € per night

Auberge des Salles in the Gorges du Verdon

Situated in Les Salles-sur-Verdon, Auberge des Salles has a superb terrace with panoramic views of Lake de Sainte-Croix and the surrounding Verdon Natural Park. Les Salles is a great base for an active holiday and you can hike, bike, canoe and swim within 5 minutes of the auberge.

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Les Clés du Verdon – Les Salles-sur-Verdon

From 80 € per night

Les Clés du Verdon B&B accommodation in Les Salles

Clean rooms, comfortable beds, delicious breakfasts with a selection of homemade jams and just a short walk to the lake. The hosts of this Provençal B&B make a big effort to provide a warm welcome. The villages of Aiguines and Moustiers are both less than 10 km away.

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Les Restanques de Moustiers – Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

From 80 € per night

Hotel les REstanques de Moustiers

This boutique Provençal hotel is located in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, 5 km from the Lac de Sainte-Croix, where you can canoe, sail and swim. The GR 4 long distance walking trail goes through the village making this an ideal place to stay if you plan to do any hiking.

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Le Relais de Moustiers – Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

From 90 € per night

Hotel Le Relais de Moustiers

Le Relais de Moustiers is perfectly situated in the village centre with views of the mountains and the sound of the waterfall in the background. If you enjoy hiking, the GR 4 hiking trail leaves from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and runs through to Castellane through the Verdon Gorge.

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Gites and Rental Villas

Self-catering gites and private rental villas and chalets are abundant and may be a better long-stay option, especially for small groups or families. If you are travelling off-season, they may be the only option as many hotels in the region close after mid-October through to April or May.

Campsites and Hostels

For serious hikers and climbers, a series of auberges, hostels, shelters and campsites service the major trails and routes along the river. The most famous is perhaps the Chalet de Maline, a mountain refuge built in the 1920s and recently renovated. It is situated near one of several belvederes overlooking the canyon. When not closed (by law) between November and April, the Chalet provides refuge along with dormitory beds, simple meals, parking and unbelievable views.

Here’s a selection of our favourite campsites:

Camping Huttopia Gorges du Verdon

From 35 € per night

Camping Huttopia Gorges du Verdon

Camping Indigo Gorges du Verdon is a pleasant four-star campsite right on the river near Castellane offering tent, caravan and mini-chalet accommodation in a park-like setting. Choose a shady spot amongst the pine trees and relax to the sound of the river.

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Camping La Ferme de Castellane

From 35 € per night

Camping La Ferme de Castellane

The campsite provides a great base for an active holiday in the Gorges du Verdon. Chalet and mobile home accommodation provides a comfortable alternative to pitching a tent. Located at the edge of the forest, all accommodation types offer mountain views.

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Camping Calme et Nature

From 50 € per night

Camping Calme et Nature in Castellane

Mobile home accommodation in a peaceful setting just 2 km from Castellane. The GR 4 hiking trail passes right by the campsite and you can follow it into town. The campsite’s location makes it a great base for activities including cycling, hiking and rafting.

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Camping Frédéric Mistral

From 43 € per night

Camping Frederic Mistral in Castellane

With its location just 5 minutes walk from Castellane, this campsite makes a great base for an active holiday. With chalets, mobile homes and tents with comfy beds, there’s a choice of accommodation and you can order a continental breakfast each morning.

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Where to Eat in the Gorges du Verdon

The Gorges du Verdon region has a good selection of fine restaurants, créperies and bistros, many of them sourcing their ingredients locally. The Auberge du Teillon on the Route Napoleon near Castellane is a popular establishment with a gastronomic menu. Hotel La Bastide De Moustiers in Moustiers prides itself on having one of the region’s few Michelin-starred restaurants and serves typical Provencal cuisine. Foodies may also want to chase down master chef and king of truffles Clement Bruno at Chez Bruno in nearby Lorgues – his restaurant is considered one of the finest in France.

For spectacular views while you eat, check out Auberge du Point Sublime, perched at the edge of the Sentier Martel hiking trail near Rougon.

Specialties of the region include artisanal goat cheeses, truffles, lavender products, honey, olive oil, wine (especially rosés) and many of the other mainstays of traditional Provencal Mediterranean cooking. There are weekly farmer’s markets in Castellane, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and Bauduen where you can buy local produce.

In Summary

Just 100 km from the sophisticated Côte d’Azur, but a world apart from the hustle and bustle of the coast, the spectacular Gorges du Verdon is an ideal destination for adventure seekers. The best time to visit is the spring or autumn when tourists are fewer and prices are lower, but if you do go in the summer just make sure you get your accommodation booked ahead of time.

The Gorges du Verdon is undoubtedly one of France’s hot spots for outdoor sports and whether you’re a climber, kayaker, mountain biker, paraglider or highliner you’ll find this part of the south of France a dream destination for your active holiday.

Please leave a comment below if you need specific advice for your trip to the Gorges du Verdon, or if you have any recommendations to help us improve this guide. Happy holidays!

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  • valeska

    I would like to know if a week around gorges du verdon is enought to visit most of the villages and do some hikes. Are the trails open from april 19th ?

  • Hi Valeska,

    Yes, a week is enough time to see the best of the Gorges du Verdon.

    For villages, I would recommend you try to visit Ste Croix du Verdon perched over the lake, Moustiers Ste Marie which is described as one of the prettiest villages in France, Gréoux les Bains with its thermal springs, and Castellane, the activity centre of the Gorges du Verdon. Make sure you leave a day to hike the Sentier Martel. The trails are open year round, and unless you’re planning to hike up Margés (1577m), they’re all below 1000 m in altitude.

    Hope that helps, have a great trip!

    Matt

  • Christina Garcia

    Hi! We’re coming from Nice and hoping to drive through the Gorge du Verdon in 1 day, and sleeping in Saignon. Is this too tight? Is it possible to just drive through the gorge without doing any activities? We are pressed for time as we need to be in Saignon on the same day to sleep there. Hope you can help!

  • Hi Christina,

    It’s absolutely doable! Although you’re talking to someone who drove from Avignon to Cherbourg in a day last weekend… It’s about 1 h 45 min from Nice to Castellane. Maybe aim for a lunch stop at the Lac de Sainte-Croix in a restaurant in Les-Salles-sur-Verdon, followed by a walk along the lake – it’s stunning. Then hit the road via the Route de Roumoules for 2 hours to arrive in time for dinner in Saignon – perfect!

    Hope that helps. Enjoy your trip,

    Matt

  • Steven Plante

    Hey Matt!

    Thanks for the helpful imformation. What are the rates for canoeing and bungee jumping?

    Thank you,
    Steven

  • Hi Steven,

    Thanks for getting in touch!

    The Pont de l’Artuby bungy jump is 115 EUR per person, the rate is lower if you’re in a group. Spots are limited so you need to book ahead. Here’s a link to the booking form:
    http://www.latitude-challenge.fr/elastique/saut-elastique-latitude-challenge-renseignements-tarifs.html

    The lower Pont de la Mariée bungy jump costs 79 EUR per person.
    https://www.cap-adrenaline.com/un-saut-a-l-elastique-a-nice-P11390.html

    Rates for the canoeing vary depending on the length of descent you want to do. Typically, a 2 hour trip will be about 35 EUR and a 5 hour trip will be about 75 EUR. Check out Aboard Rafting based in Castellane: http://www.rafting-verdon.com/gb/trips-prices.html

    Hope that helps, have a great trip!

    Matt

  • Kathya

    Hi we are driving from Aix en Provence and hoping to do a full circuit and back to Aix in 1 day. Do you think that would be possible or best to stay the night somewhere at the Gorge? Thanks!

    • Hi Kathya,

      Thanks for getting in touch!

      You can definitely do it in a day, but it will be a long day – the Gorges du Verdon is about 2 hours driving time from Aix. If you plan to mix siteseeing with an activity like the Sentier Martel hike or a rafting trip, it would be better to stay overnight. Moustiers Sainte-Marie is one of the prettiest villages in the Gorge if you decide to stay overnight.

      I hope that helps, have a great trip,

      Matt

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  • Amanda

    Hello there,
    This whole review page has been incredibly helpful! We were hoping you may have some ideas for our trip. We have a campsite in Castellane for 2 nights and are interested in canoeing, seeing some lakes, and perhaps some novice grade rock climbing (we will have all our gear with us). We will be heading back to Gap afterwards to do some more climbing and hiking but we couldn’t resist going to the Gorges. Thanks again for this awesome review1

    • Hi Amanda,

      Thanks so much for your comment and for bigging up the article! Great to hear you’re including the Gorges du Verdon in your trip!

      Canoeing: If you want to paddle some whitewater, you could do the class 2-3 section of the Verdon from Castellane to Pont de Carejuan, or the class 3 section further down from Pont de Soleils to Point Sublime. More info here: https://www.activeazur.com/rafting-kayaking/southern-french-alps/verdon. If you’d prefer to paddle on the lake, you can hire canoes and stand up paddle boards in the village of Sainte Croix du Verdon.

      The classic photo that you see in the postcards is taken from the northern side of the Lac de Sainte Croix on the D957 and looking back on the Pont du Galetas.

      Climbing: I would recommend you try Escalès as it’s here you’ll get that unique Gorges du Verdon experience. There are over 300 routes from French grade 5a to 8c, so the best thing would be to hire a guide from Maison des Guides du Verdon who will be able to tailor the day to your ability.

      Hope that helps, have a great trip!

      Matt

  • Kristy Treece Smith

    We are a family with two teen girls traveling to the Gorge the first week of November. I have been trying to find out if any of the outfitters will be open then – either for rafting or canoeing? When does the drive around the “north rim” close – Oct. 31 or just when the weather gets bad? Any recommendations for getting into the gorge if rafting and canoeing isn’t an option? We only have two days so we’d prefer no hikes over 4-5 hours. Thanks

    • Hi Kristy, thanks for getting in touch!

      Unfortunately, unless you’re able to go canoeing on Sunday 01 November, I think you’re going to be out of luck. Most operators close at the end of September with some staying open until the end of the Toussaint holiday on the 1st November. I can confirm that Location Nautic based in Montmeyan on the Lac de Quinsan is open on the 1st November.

      The Route des Crêtes is closed from the 01 November to the 15 April, but both the Route des Gorges and the Route de la Corniche Sublime remain open.

      If you want to hike the gorge, the Sentier Martel trail is 15 km long and runs along the right side of the canyon from Point Sublime to the Chalet de la Maline (accessible by road all year). The guide books say it takes 6 hours, but that’s including stops for swims and lunch, so if the family are used to hiking, 5 hours should do it. As it’s one way, it’ll involve a hitchhike back to the car for the driver. Or, you can hike for 2 hours, have lunch and walk back the way you came – looking the other way, the view is completely different…

      I hope that helps, have a great trip!

      Matt

  • Kim

    Hi Matt,

    We will be visiting the Gorge on the 17th and 18th of October and have some questions hoping you can help:
    1) We are really keen to do some canyoning at the Gorge but it seems most operator close at the end of September. Do you know any operator open for the dates above?

    2) My partner and I are both fan of adrenaline, do you have any recommendations of what other activities we can do at the Gorge?
    3a) Which trail would you recommend to hike without climbing gears? (follow by 3b),
    3b) Are we allow to camp somewhere along the trail? (follow by 3c),
    3c) What would be the temperature at that time during the night? (follow by 3d),
    3d) What are the rules for wild camping?

    We are really excited and look forward to visiting the Gorge.

    Your information will be very much appreciated.

    Kim

    • Hi Kim, thanks for getting in touch!

      Outside of the summer season it’s a lot quieter in the Gorges du Verdon, and as you say, most operators close for the season at the end of September. Others will stay open until the end of the Toussaint holiday on the 01 November, so you should be able to find a company, but your best bet will be to visit the tourist office in Moustiers Sainte-Marie, or the Bureau des Guides in Castellane.

      You can rent a canoe from Location Nautic in Montmeyan Plage and paddle the lake. Or, if you get hold of some Via Ferrata kit, you could do one of the 4 courses near La-Palud-sur-Verdon. Contact Verdon VTT for mountain bike hire (info@verdon-vtt.com), the trails are superb.

      The Sentier Martel trail is the classic Gorges du Verdon hike. It’s 15 km long and runs along the right side of the canyon from Point Sublime to the Chalet de la Maline.

      Wild camping is banned in the Gorges and along the lake shore. If you get caught it’s 135 € fine. For budget camping options, again you’ll need to check in the Tourist Office as most campsites close at the end of September. Temperatures in October can get down to 6 or 7 degrees at night.

      I hope that gives you what you need… Have a great trip!

      Matt

  • Niki Ingleby

    Hi Matt
    We’re thinking of visiting around first weekend of December (we’re bringing the dogs with us from the UK it’s too hot otherwise!) What’s it like that time of year? Is anything open?
    Thanks
    Niki

    • Hi Niki, thanks for getting in touch!

      It is going to be very quiet in December, and the campsites, activity centres and smaller establishments will be closed, but in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and Castellane you will find that a handful of hotels and restaurants will be open. The Route de la Corniche will be closed, but you can still access the walking trails including both ends of the Sentier Martel.

      The other thing to consider is a visit to a ski resort. In the Gorges du Verdon, you’re only an hour away from Val d’Allos, it’s beautiful up there in winter and everything should be open.

      I hope that helps, have a great trip!

      Matt

      • Niki Ingleby

        Thanks that’s great ?

        • You’re very welcome Niki, have a great time!

  • Kat

    Hi Matt my fiancé and I will be on our honeymoon in May and would love to do a canyon in verdon gorge. We are experienced and have done a canyon in Australia so would prefer to do an adventurous canyon like the Riolan. We only have time to stay one night and then will do canyoning the next day.

    My question is where should we stay near the verdon gorge and can you recommend anywhere in particular that is close so we do not have to do much driving to get to the canyoning.

    Also are there any companies that offer a pick up service from a hotel?

    Thank you very much.

    • Hi Kat, thanks for getting in touch, great to hear that you’re heading to France for your honeymoon!

      The Clue du Riolan is a great choice, and if you stay at Gite Tonic in Saint-Auban I think you can organise the canyoning straight from the gite. It’s about 40 minutes drive from there to Riolan, or you’ll have the Saint-Auban canyon right on your doorstep, which is a super-fun canyon with some nice jumps, slides and a 12 m waterfall.

      I hope that gives you what you need, best of luck with the planning,

      Matt

  • Fiona

    Hi Matt,

    Love you article and all your little tips. We are consideing visiting here as part of our honeymoon in September – our base in Antibes.
    We would be willing to do 2/3 nights maybe over 2 villages.
    I wanted to see if you could recommend any campsites that may be quieter/more romantic than others or on the lake even? and also any villages we should focus on? I would love to stay close to the lakes for one or two nights and then the other in the mountain areas maybe.

    Any tips would be so appreciated.

    Thanks so much!

    Fiona

    • Hi Fiona,

      Thanks for the feedback, glad you like the article and many congratulations on the engagement!

      In September the summer holiday crowds have gone, so it will generally be a lot quieter. But the campsites, shops and restaurants are still open and the water in the lake will still be nice and warm, so it’s a great time to visit.

      You could look at staying in Esparron-de-Verdon near the spa town of Gréoux-les-Bains, famous for its Roman baths. Camping le Soleil is right on Lac d’Esparron and maybe just the ticket: http://www.camping-le-soleil.com/

      Otherwise, Saint-Julien-du-Verdon is half-way up Lac de Castillon between Castellane and Saint-André-les-Alpes. You’ll have the lake and the mountains and access to all the Verdon activities. Camping du Lac is simple and clean and just 5 minutes walk from the lake.

      With regards to villages, don’t miss Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, without doubt the prettiest village in the region. If you choose to stay in Esparron, the village of Riez with its Roman ruins is well worth a visit.

      I hope that gives you a bit more to go on, best of luck planning your trip,

      Matt

      • Fiona

        Thanks Matt you are a star I really appreciate the info…very excited to go and research now ?? Thanks so much sounds like a beautiful place.

        • You’re very welcome Fiona, best of luck with the planning,

          Matt

  • Mark Adams

    We’re staying in Frejus for two weeks in August with our 3 kids of 9 / 6 / 4, we’d love to have a day trip to Gorges du Verdon but need to make sure we cater for the kids too:
    Is it fairly accessible and not too far a drive from Frejus
    Are there areas the kids can swim, hire boats or kayak’s, and make the most of the area
    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Mark, thanks for getting in touch!

      Fréjus is one of the closest spots on the coast to the Gorges. It’s a 1.5 hour drive – maybe a bit longer with little kids… but if they’re good travellers a day trip is perfectly doable.

      At the top end of the Lac de Sainte-Croix near the entrance to the Gorges (43.803041, 6.247073) there’s a place you can rent canoes, pedalos and electric boats. There’s safe swimming from beaches like Plage Galetas around the Lac de Sainte-Croix, or swimming from rocks if you paddle upstream into the Gorges.

      To break up the journey on your way back, you could stop for your evening meal in Draguignan – there are some nice restaurants round the Place du Marché.

      Hope that helps, best of luck planning the trip,

      Matt

  • Matthew S

    Hi Matt,

    Love the article, very helpful indeed.

    My partner and I are visiting this awe-inspiring river canyon in late July. Coincidentally we’re planning to camp at ‘Chasteuil-Provence’ one of your suggested campsites, in hope of being in a picturesque setting within reasonable distance from Castellane, where I believe to be the mecca for activity enthusiasts?

    We’re still delving around the offerings of Verdon Gorge in search of other alluring prime spots, e.g. towards Aiguines looks promising. Other than a beautiful setting, we’re looking to be within reach of activities such as: canoeing, cycling, hiking and others alike.

    We would be delighted if you could help us in our quest and offer any further recommendations?

    Thanks,

    Matthew & Imogen.

    • Hi Matthew & Imogen, thanks very much for your message, great that you’ve found the article useful and you’re planning a trip here!

      You’re right Castellane is a centre for outdoor sports and most of the rafting and canyoning companies are based there. For hardcore rock climbing, La Palud-sur-Verdon is a hub as it’s close to some of the famous big wall routes.

      Yes, Aiguines is a beautiful village in a stunning location with views over the Lac de Sainte-Croix. You’ll be close to the famous Imbut and Vidal hiking trails which start and finish along the RN D71. You can rent canoes and paddle into the gorge from the Base de l’Etoile at the top end of the lake. It’s about an hour’s drive from there to Castellane, but of course it’s nice to stay near the lake for swimming and watersports.

      For mountain biking, there’s some great trails just to the north of Castellane and a superb ride around the Lac de Castillon. More info here: https://www.activeazur.com/mountain-biking/south-france/verdon

      And you may want to try paragliding. Saint-André-les-Alpes at the northern end of the Lac de Castillon is one of the top sites in France and each year plays host to the European Paragliding Championships. You can take a beginner’s course or a tandem flight with Aérogliss: https://www.activeazur.com/directory/listing/aerogliss-paragliding-school-saint-andre-les-alpes

      Saint-Julien-du-Verdon is halfway between Castellane and Saint-André so it’s a good base for this area. The scenery’s not as dramatic as the Gorge itself, but it’s spectacular all the same. There’s a good two star campsite at Saint-Julien called Camping du Lac that’s just 5 minutes walk from a swimming beach. Aqua Bond Rafting are nearby and run rafting trips on the Verdon and Upper Verdon: https://www.activeazur.com/directory/listing/aqua-bond-rafting-canoeing-canyoning-sup-verdon

      Hope that gives you a bit more to go on…

      All the best,

      Matt

  • Raquel Souza

    Hi,
    We have 2 days to spend in Verdon and I’d like to do rafting, know the Lac the Saint Croix and Mouster de Saint Marie.
    What’s the best city to sleep?
    Do I need to book in advance the rafting? Does it have a fixed time to leave?
    Thanks
    Raquel

    • Hi Raquel, thanks for your message!

      I would recommend staying around La-Palud-sur-Verdon, about 5 km from the top end of the Lac de Sainte-Croix and about halfway between Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and Castellane, which is where most of the rafting companies are based.

      Yes, you should definitely try to book the rafting at least the day before and organise your departure time. Descents on the lower Verdon (below the dam) rely water being released from the dam, which during July and August usually happens on Tuesdays and Fridays. Otherwise, if there is enough water, you can raft the upper Verdon at any time.

      I hope that helps, have a great holiday!

      Matt

  • Sally

    Hi, me and my boyfriend are coming in just over a week and are trying to find out the best place to hire stand up paddle boards from so that we can have a couple of chilled out hours travelling down the verdon gorge taking in its beauty. Where would be the best place to hire from for this? Thanks

  • Lily FęrnänÐo

    Hi…. My boyfriend and I are planning to visit France in December and wondering if we could still hike, do some canoeing or paddle boating down the river and camp? Will there be any places open around Gorges du Verdon by that time and how bad the weather is likely to be? Thanks

    • Hi Lily, thanks for your message!

      In December you can still go hiking, but the campsites and watersports companies will be closed for the winter. There will be some hotels open in the larger towns such as Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. The weather can be very nice in December, sunny and cold with less chance of rain than October and November.

      Hope that helps, have a great trip!

      Matt

      • Lily FęrnänÐo

        Hey Matt…. Thank you ever so much for your promt reply :-)…. And I will surely look at the areas you have suggested… Thank you once again

        Cheers
        Lily

        • You’re very welcome Lily, good luck with the planning!

          Matt

  • KCG06

    Hey Matt, I have a trip planned the end of August and have only a night to spend in the gorges region. I will be traveling solo w/o a car. Sounds like Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a great base from exploring a pretty French village perspective. What are my public transportaction options from there, if any? If not, I was considering a day trip from Provence area and hoping to include exploring the village and a short canoe experience. Is it doable? Any recommended tour operators? Thanks in advance!

    • Hi there, thanks for your message!

      Yes, Moustiers is a great spot to head to. It’s about 7 km from the town to the top of Lac de Sainte Croix. There’s an inexpensive shuttle bus called Estelline which links the lower car park in Moustiers with swimming spots around the lake, including La Base de l’Etoile where you can rent a kayak and paddle the lower part of the gorge. The bus service runs every hour from 9am to 7pm until the last week of August and you can buy tickets in the tourist office or on board. If you miss the bus, you can take a taxi (Taxi de l’Etoile +33 (0)6 07 37 33 78).

      Alternatively, you could head to Castellane and book a hotdog kayaking trip down the Verdon river with one of the rafting companies: https://www.activeazur.com/rafting-kayaking/southern-french-alps/verdon

      Hope that helps, have a great trip!

      Matt

  • Marc Myerson

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for all your information. I am going to be in nice for a week and I’m looking to do a day or two to the gorge.. is there any public busses that will take me there and back?
    I have a relatively low budget so I wont be able to book a tour. looking to do some hiking and swimming.
    Thanks for your help

    • Hi Marc, thanks for your message!

      La Palud-sur-Verdon is a good base for hiking and swimming. From Nice – Gare Routière, you can take bus LER 31 (Nice – Grenoble via Digne-les-Bains et Sisteron) to Castellane – Place Marcel Sauvaire. To get from there to La Palud-sur-Verdon you can either take the Gorges du Verdon shuttle bus or take a taxi (Taxi Verdon +33 (0)6 68 18 13 13.

      There’s more information on hiking around La Palud-sur-Verdon here: https://www.activeazur.com/hiking/south-france/gorges-du-verdon

      You can book your bus ticket online here: http://info-ler.fr/

      Hope that helps, have a great trip!

      Matt

  • PJ Baker

    Hey Matt,

    I am looking at coming down as a party of 6-8 of us. We are looking for some great activities to do in the water come the end of September. What would be the best place for us to set up. Preferably our own cottage as we would like the privacu but still be able to wonder into town for some meals/drinks. Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers,
    PJ

  • Eleonora

    Hi Matt!

    We are coming by car from Nice and we are looking for the best hiking spots with beautiful scenery in the beginning of October. What would be the best place for us to set up? We would prefer day hikes (5-8h) or two-three day hikes if its possible to overnight in a nice hotel and then carry on the hike the following day. Is there any busses / taxis that will take us back from where we started if its not easy to find hotels in the middle of the track/hike?

    So, what would be the best place (“hiking village or hotel”?) to set up for a 3 days hiking holiday? Good food is also something we would appreciate. =)

    Thank you!!

    BR,
    Eleonora

    • Hi Eleonora, thanks for your message!

      I would recommend you take a look at the 3 classic day hikes on our Hiking in the Gorges du Verdon page. You can actually string them together to make a 3-day itinerary. If you wanted to base yourself somewhere, I would choose La-Palud-sur-Verdon. Taxi Verdon +33 (0)4 92 72 52 01 is based in La-Palud. There’s a couple of recommendations for places to stay at the bottom of the page: https://www.activeazur.com/hiking/south-france/gorges-du-verdon

      Then, you could head up to the Gite des Robines in the village of Tartonne. The gite is located at the start of a number of great walks around a beautiful mountain escarpment called La Barre des Dourbes. Food is healthy and homemade using local produce. Here’s a link to the gite: http://www.gitedesrobines.com/

      I hope that helps, have a great trip!

      Matt

  • Lydia Reznichenko

    Hi, Matt
    Grate information resource!
    I am going to be in Nice December 22-30
    I wondered how is it in winter in Parc Verdon? Can we at least drive the parc roads? Is there option to hike?
    What is the best way to verify road conditions there.
    Ideally we would travel Nice-park Verdon-Marseille-Nice
    How many days you think it should take?
    Thank you in advance,
    Lidia

    • Hi Lidia, thanks for your message!

      The high road around the Gorges, La Route des Crêtes, is closed now for the winter due to the danger from rockfall. For the most up to date info, you can call the tourist office in Castellane (+33 (0)4 92 83 61 14).

      With regards to hiking trails, Le sentier des pêcheurs and Sentier Martel are open, but the Sentier de l’Imbut is closed as a result of damage caused by heavy rain.

      For your Nice-Verdon-Marseille-Nice trip I would allow at least 5 days, so you can spend 2 full days in the Gorges.

      I hope that helps, have a great trip!

      Matt

  • priyanka dhabaria

    Hi Matt,
    We planning to do a one day trip from Marseille to Parc verdon and back in April end.We are planning to hire a car for the same. What is the best scenic route that we could take?

    • Hi Priyanka, thanks for your comment!

      I would recommend you take the motorway to Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume and make your way north to Quinson,where you could stop for lunch and if you’re brave, a bracing swim in the lake. Then keep heading north until you meet the Route de Moustiers and drive along the northern rim of the Lac de Saint-Croix with the spectacular views over the lake. You could then either drive to the far end of the lake and check out the view into the canyon from Pont du Galetas, or visit the picturesque town of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, or do both if you have time.

      It’s a big day with 2 hours of driving each way, but if you set off early, you’ll have great time.

      I hope that helps, good luck planning the trip,

      Matt

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