Being so sick the day before, as fast as it came it suddenly was all gone over night, and I felt like a newborn 🙂
We got up early and continued our journey towards the stunning Gorges du Verdon, also known as the Grand Canyon of France. The river Verdon made its way through massive rocks and mountains over a period of million of years.
To visit this incredible nature spectacle is one of THE highlights during the travels through the area of Provence.
Spectacular canyons with depths from 250m all the way to 700m and turqoise water wiggling its way through massive mountains make this visit unforgettable.
The night before we arrived at lac de Sainte-Croix, where the river Verdon merges into the lake that invites for bathing, sun bathing, water sports or swimming.
However on day 8 we left the lake behind and followed the river upwards.
On both sides of Gorges du Verdon there are curvy streets taking the visitors around the canyon in a big circle way up above the river.
The routes are split into north and south, which I highly recommend to drive both as they offer totally different views.
The northern route at the northern side of the Grand Canyon begins at the town Moustiers-Sainte-Marie to La-Palud-sur-Verdon.
From there the actual impressive tour starts.
But please note: because it is a big circle, it is possible to start off in both directions. Yet I highly advise to drive straight through the village and only turn from the D952 right on D23 when it says “Route des Crêtes” AFTER you left the town.
By turning to the right on the intersection INSIDE the village, the street eventually turns into a one way street after 8 kilometers, which means that you have to turn around and drive back the same way you came.
Only “Route des Crêtes” on D23 will take you around the whole circle, which can only be driven in a clockwise direction.
It can be really confusing as both directions carry the number D23, and if you don’t know specifically to ONLY turn right when it says Route des Crêtes, you suddenly might end up in front of a dead end. I know all of that so pretty damn well because that’s how we did it – there probably has been a sign somewhere telling us all of that, but we still ended up in front of the one way street in the wrong direction hehe 😉 (but there were heaps of others doing the exact same thing, so hope is not gone)
The only benefit of driving in the direction in which we drove first by accident, is that one doesn’t have to cross the street to get to the view points.
Just before the street turned into a one way street there is a tiny town (rather a collection of 2 houses) called Chalet de la Maline to which public buses are heading and lots and lots of cars park beside the road. At first we were wondering where all those people to all those cars went, but then we saw that from there hiking trails are taking off.
The whole time during the drive along the river, we saw people and cars in the middle of no where, which lead us to the guess that there are hiking trails and pathways in the whole area.
Along the way on the routes you will pass many view points – some bigger than others but usually all really crowded – with a m a z i n g views. I probably spend the whole day with my mouth open due to all this amazement (just kidding, that was a little exaggerated), but seriously the route is really really beautiful.
For both ways – north and south – you should plan anything between half a day to a whole day.
Besides driving the serpentine streets through Gorges du Verdon by car, scooter, e-bike or even a regular bike (puh those people must be feeling what they did by the end of the day) and enjoying the breathtaking views from way up, visitors also get offered the activities of hiking through the forests or even down through the shallow river water, climbing the vertical cliffs, kayaking through the canyon walls, white water rafting down the river or “simply” splashing at the shore (after you climbed all the way down there).
To so many people this is an absolute must-visit, and to be honest I totally agree with them. And even though millions of people visit this very special river; a beautiful, old and very impressive Canyon usually isn’t the first thing coming to one’s mind when thinking about the Provence, so I decided to put this is as one of my “secret” tips so you make sure to visit this 😉
The route south of the canyon starts with the streets D952 over to D955 in the direction of Trigance, turning onto D90 and finally to D71 – I don’t mean to confuse you with all those numbers;only to give you a quick summery of which streets to take.
2 of the view points on this route are called “balcons” – with their plateau being made out of stone, reaching over the wall cliff, it even does look like a balcony. Both of them are underneath the street, so make sure to stop when the sign pops up and you don’t miss the outstanding view down into the canyon where the beautiful blue water made its way through the massive stone.
Only a few turns later, the super tall and impressive Bridge Pont de l’Artuby crosses the empty riverbed Artuby in vertiginously height. To both ends parking is possible, so you could walk towards the middle of the bridge and just notice the crazy feeling that evolves by simply standing up there and looking down.
In general the southern route does not include as many view points as the northern route does, but if one appears it is absolutely worth stopping with its overwhelming panorama views.
The route ends in the village Aiguines. The beautiful castle and a great view of the lake are the first things you will notice even before entering.