Crédit photo : Stefan Pelz
The Verdon Gorges
Moustiers Sainte-Marie is located at the entrance of the gorges du Verdon, the deepest canyon in Europe. That geographical location is a major tourist attraction for the village. A magnificent and wild landscape characterised by its preserved nature and turquoise waters.
This spectacular canyon results from the limestone erosion of the plateaus of Haute Provence by the Verdon river which springs near the col d’Allos (in the massif of the Trois Évêchés). The 50 km long canyon stretches from Castellane to the lake of Sainte-Croix, and reaches up to 700 metres in depth.
Did you know ?
The green color of the Verdon is due to fluoride and micro-algae it contains : it's probably the origin of its name, from Latin viridum, "green place". The turquoise color of the Lake of Ste Croix is due to the clay.
The canyon presents many sports opportunities. From hiking paths of all levels to nautical or air sports, here: everyone will discover the pleasure of surpassing themselves. If you look at the sky, you may see a griffon vulture or a lappet-faced vulture soaring above your head… You can also drive through the gorges by car, following the Route des Crêtes or the road named ’Corniche Sublime’. They are built in such a way that they enable frequent stops with exceptional viewpoints.
Full driving tour of the gorges du verdon: 130 km, 4 hours
As you leave Moustiers, take the D952 towards castellane and go as far as La palud. at La palud, on the road to castellane, take route des crêtes (D23) to enjoy a 20-km scenic loop (40 min). please note: this road is closed during the winter period. Follow the signs to point Sublime, castellane. For the full tour, return to pont de Soleil, go through trigance and take the D71 as far as aiguines. come back via pont de Galetas and Ste croix lake towards Moustiers.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, La Palud, Point Sublime - 28 km (45 min)
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, La Palud, Route des Crêtes - 40 km (1h15)
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Aiguines, Pont de l’Artuby - 34 km (55 min)
The Verdon Gorges : which side to chose ?
From Moustiers-Sainte-Marie you will need 3 to 4 hours to drive aroud the gorges. But you can also chose to do one side only :
· The Right Side : the D952 in Alpes de Haute Provence department, with its somptuous « Route des Crêtes »
· The Left Side : the D71 in Var department, also called « Corniche Sublime »
If you don’t have a lot of time we advise to take the Right Side from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie to drive around Route des Crêtes and its 15 lookouts to enjoy the best of the gorges landscape.
The Verdon Gorges : the Right Side
From Moustiers Sainte Marie take La Palud direction. You need 35 minutes to reach this village, situated in the heart of the Verdon Gorges. On the road you will enjoy magnificient point of views of the Sainte Croix Lake. To make the best of it, cross La Palud and go towards « Route des Crêtes ».
Vultures on la Route des Crêtes
Route des Crêtes is a 23 km panoramic road with 15 equiped lookouts to park and appreciate the landscape. If you look up you could be lucky and see griffons vultures. Their span can reach 2.65m. they were reintroduced in the area between 1999 and 2004 for their essential role in the ecosystem.
This road is a loop and has a one way part to drive. You will need 40 minutes to drive around (without counting your stops). It finishes at La Palud. You could also pedal around the road by renting an electric bike at La Palud.
Rougon and the Point Sublime
8 km after La Palud you will reach le Point Sublime. Underneath the village of Rougon, it is a paradise for hikers. If you want to see the Couloir Samson and its tunnels, you can hike down the path in its direction. After walking one hour, you’ve reached it !
Beware : you are in a natural parc, it is strickly forbidden to bath / swim.
You have time and you want to see more of the gorges ? We are taking you for a spin !
Right and Left Side together !
Once you are done with Route des Crêtes and Point Sublime, keep driving on D952 direction Castellane. You will reach Pont de Soleils (Soleils’s bridge) to cross the Verdon river and continue your way on the other side. You can visit Trigance, an old village with a stone built Castle. You will then cross Europe highest bridge : Pont de l’Artuby (138m high). You then continue your way to arrive at Aiguines with its panoramic view on the Lake Ste Croix. To better understand the old way of life in this village, you can visit its Museum. To go down the Lake you will need 10 more minutes
A video about this beautiful site
Enjoy this short film about the Verdon Gorges, made by Verdon Visuel, video maker at Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.
Family activities to do inside the Verdon Gorges
You have several possibilities to enjoy your stay. Here are a few of those :
Hiking inside the Verdon Gorges with your family
You can ascend the Rancoumas lookout when crossing the Verdon river at Pont de Tusset : 3h30 return. For the youngest, the Lezard path is more adequate : 2h round trip. A booklet is available at la Maison des Gorges in La Palud.
Family visits in the Verdon Gorges
You can visit la Bergerie de Faucon : park with more than 20 species of animals !
Because the access inside the gorges can be difficult with its small and bended roads, you may enjoy the possibility to let yourself be guided by a professional on a mini-bus tour with Provisito.
If you are thrill seekers, we also have what you need… !