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Verdon Gorge, a scenic drive in the grand canyon.

Verdon Gorge in France
Verdon Gorge Canyon

Verdon Gorge (Gorges du Verdon), and its “route des crêtes” (peaks road) is a scenic balcony drive located in the French Grand Canyon in the southeast. This scenic place is also called Grand Canyon du Verdon in English.

Overall information about Verdon Gorge.

Gorge of Verdon road is located in the South of France in the Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur region.


Here we will tell you about the most scenic part of this area. However, all the roads on the left and right sides are worth the detour. So, if you have excess time, check them out too!

So, we will deal with the “route des crêtes” part. If you are seeking information about other awesome roads nearby, take a look at the bonus section.


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Facts about Verdon Gorge in France.

History

The route des crêtes was built on a former mule track by local inhabitants. They built the road between 1948 and 1972 for touristic purposes. Eventually, they got 100% right!

Specifics

The Gorges du Verdon route des crêtes is a 23 kilometers (14 miles) loop starting from the Palud sur Verdon village.

The itinerary is essentially one-way and it has 14 lookouts giving remarkable views on the Verdon canyon. Some are very famous as the “Carelle”, the “l’Escalès”, or the “Guègues”

On some of these balconies, you can observe a 700 meters (2300 ft) abyss underneath your feet.

This itinerary is particularly coveted by bikers and there are lots of hotels and restaurants cherished by them.

Avoid the crowd

We advise you to come early in the morning to enjoy the drive. Indeed it’s a pretty crowded place in the summer and it would be upsetting if you have to drive in traffic jams here. Also, you will also have the opportunity to see the flora and fauna of the area, as griffon vultures, warblers, and chamois.

Part of the road is a one-way road so don’t take the wrong side to avoid some problematic situations.

How to get to the Canyon du Verdon?

In order to access the “route des crêtes” you have to get to La Palud sur Verdon Village.

From Moustiers-Sainte-Marie drive the D952 road following the Castellane direction, it will take you around 40 minutes for 20 kilometers (12miles). If you are coming from Castellane, also follow the D952 road but in the direction of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. In this direction, you will spend about 45 minutes to drive the 25 kilometers (15,5 miles). Then you have to take the D23 which is located about 700 meters (0,5 miles) after leaving La Palud sur Verdon if you are coming from Moustiers.

Want to have a preview?

If you can’t come to France or if for some reasons you want to discover that road before your roadtrip by bike or by car take a look at this video:

Touristic attractions near Verdon Gorge.

The Verdon Gorge area is very touristic, you can park your car for a couple of hours and enjoy some activities. Here are some examples:

Kayaking in Verdon Gorge

Practice kayaking in the Gorge but also in the Sainte Croix Lake in deep blue water. In the high season, loads of companies propose kayak rentals so you won’t have any trouble finding one.

Kayaking in Verdon Gorge.
Verdon Gorge

Rafting

If you are a fan of extreme sports and adrenaline you definitely have to test rafting. Generally, you will meet your instructor near the Sainte Croix Lake, and then a minibus will take you upstream. There is also a lot of rafting clubs there.

Climbing

For those who are not afraid of the heights, you can also practice try out climbing in the Verdon area. There are many climbing routes for everybody, from beginners to experts.

Hiking

Fancy walking in nature? Take a walk through the Verdon river. Many itineraries are possible, just pick one from here.

Is the Verdon Gorge open?

The specific 23 kilometers long D23 section of route des crêtes is closed in the winter from November 1st to April 15th. Nonetheless, you can still access the Maline chalet and the Carelle belvedere all year long.

But don’t worry you can still drive on regular roads around the gorge, check the bonus heading below for more information.

Bonus

If you are planning to go there in winter and the D23 route des crêtes is closed don’t be frustrated. You can still have an amazing journey there!

Consider this itinerary to complet or to replace the closed road:

Start nearby Trigance village on the D90/D71 road crossing. Then drive to Aiguines on the D71. This part of the road is also called the “corniche supreme” (supreme cornice, in English) and it is considered as an awesome drive almost as sensational as the D23 one. For example, drive the through the Fayet tunnel, carved into the rock.

A road trip in the south of France
Fayet tunnel

At Aiguines take the Moutiers Sainte Marie direction (D957). Have a stop at the village, it is a typical provincial French village with a very picturesque vibe. Then take the D952 to Castellane.

The whole journey is about 90 kilometers (56 miles). You won’t regret that itinerary, it’s a very well-known route you can enjoy by bike or by bicycle also.

Here is the plan:

So, if you have the opportunity to spend some time in the area, you will not get bored! Please consider that if you want to find accommodations in the high season you maybe will have to book them in advance. You can always find a place in one of the numerous campings or RV places nearby.


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