The Verdon

The Verdon PNR

The Verdon Regional Nature Park: a recognized territory

Created in 1997, the Verdon Regional Natural Park protects and enhances the territory by ensuring that economic development is consistent with the preservation of its natural heritage.

The Verdon Regional Natural Park is one of the 53 regional natural parks in France . This recognition is based on many assets of the territory : a diversity of landscapes, nature, picturesque villages and of course a river with a unique color … which make it a remarkable natural space. The existence of such a label promotes the emergence of collective projects within the territory as well as the implementation of global valuation or development initiatives.

The Verdon plateaus

A geological, archaeological and geographical wealth

Between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea, the Verdon is a very diverse territory. The Verdon Regional Nature Park identifies 7 landscapes built around the Verdon river : the Plateau de Valensole, the lakes and mountains, the Lake of Sainte-Croix, the hills of Haut-Var, the Gorges du Verdon, the Basses-gorges and the Artuby. 2,200 species of plants are listed, with many remarkable species. A chart implemented by the Park sets the main guidelines aimed at organizing and preserving the wealth of the territory.

Notre Dame du Roc - Castellane Alpes de haute Provence
Sunset on the lake of holy cross

About forty municipalities concerned

The Verdon Regional Natural Park is based on a Mixed Syndicate bringing together 46 municipalities, the departmental councils of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Var and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regional council. Functioning as a local authority, it is in charge of defining and implementing the charter.

Haute Provence Outdoor guides join in the challenges of the Verdon Regional Natural Park to make its customers aware of the ecological issues of the territory during whitewater activities.

To find out more about the Verdon Regional Natural Park:

The Verdon

The Grand Canyon du Verdon

The Grand Canyon, a breathtaking place not to be missed!

Digged for millennia by the Verdon river, the Grand Canyon is one of the largest and highest canyons in Europe.

Up to 700 meters high

The Grand Canyon du Verdon attracts a crowd of tourists every year, and for good reason: in places it reaches up to 700 meters high , which makes it one of the largest canyons in Europe! It is the erosion of limestone by the Verdon river which has shaped such a landscape over time. A narrow corridor, whose maximum width reaches 12 meters , leads there, it is the Samson corridor . During your ride in Aqua hike , you will also encounter a huge boulder: “ the solitary “. Stranded in the middle of this corridor, it weighs several tons.

The Grand Canyon du Verdon - PACA region
Sunrise on the Verdon plateaus

The three parts of the Gorges du Verdon

The Grand Canyon du Verdon is located after the Tusset Bridge, between the villages of Rougon and of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie . This is the place where the Gorges du Verdon tighten and the cliffs take height.

The zoned called the Gorges du Verdon is located Between Castellane and the lake of Sainte-Croix .

They are themselves divided into three parts:

● the pre-gorges, which stretch from Castellane to Pont de Soleils

● the gorges, from Pont de Soleils to Imbut

● and finally the Grand Canyon, which goes from the Imbut to the Pont de Galetas.

The Gorges du Verdon reach between 250 and 700 meters high , at the level of the Grand Canyon. The Verdon river, for its part, occupies a width of 6 to 100 meters.

How to see the Grand Canyon du Verdon?

For the discover , several options are available to you. You can follow the course of the Verdon by reserving a session of water hike . You will gradually see the cliffs close in on you and you will be blown away by their height! There are also great circuits of hiking such as Martel trail where the Imbut trail .

The Verdon

The Sublime Point

Le Point Sublime, an unmissable panorama of the Gorges du Verdon

The most famous viewpoint in the area, Point Sublime is one of the region’s must-sees. It offers a magnificent panorama of the Gorges du Verdon.

Le Point Sublime is located on the right bank of the Gorges du Verdon, below the village of Rougon . The lovers of natural landscapes and photography will not fail to go there: it is one of the most remarkable sites of the Gorges du Verdon. You will find a breathtaking view of the Samson corridor , entry point of Grand canyon of Verdon . On your left you will see the wall of the Duke and on your right the cliffs of Escalès. Simply breathtaking!

The Samson Corridor - Belvédère

To get there, follow the direction of Rougon by taking the departmental road 952. Arrived at the parking lot, a short walk of about ten minutes will take you to the Point Sublime belvedere .

Le Point Sublime is also the starting point of a popular hiking trail , the Blanc-Martel trail . About fifteen kilometers away, it links the Point Sublime to the Chalet de la Maline.

The Verdon

The 5 lakes of the Verdon

The 5 lakes of the Verdon to discover

With their green waters surrounded by superb landscapes, the Verdon lakes will seduce you! In addition to being popular places for walking and swimming, they lend themselves readily to the practice of nautical activities.

Castillon du Verdon lake

By following the course of the Verdon , you will meet a first lake , that of Castillon. Located at 800 meters above sea level , we find it between the village of Saint-André-les-Alpes and the dam of Castillon-Demandolx. It is the second lake of the Verdon on the surface after the lake of Sainte-Croix with an area of 500 hectares spread over 8 kilometers .

If its first mission is to irrigate agricultural fields, it is nonetheless appreciated by tourists with its green and restful environment and a beautiful turquoise water . You can practice all kinds of nautical activities such as paddle , the kayak , the pedal boat or even hiking and of course swimming.

The lake of Sainte-Croix du Verdon

Spread over 22 km², Lake Sainte-Croix is the largest lake crossed by the Verdon and the third largest artificial lake in France ! Located in the heart of Verdon Regional Natural Park , this Verdon lake is located between the Pont de Galetas and the Sainte-Croix dam. A hotspot for nautical activities, it is very popular with tourists in summer and also plays a major role in the production of electrical energy. You will also find equipped beaches and of very beautiful hiking trails. And to enjoy a sublime view of the lake, go to the Galetas belvedere!

Galetas Bridge - Lake of Sainte-Croix

Quinson lake

Less frequented than the lakes of Sainte-Croix and the lake of Esparron, the lake of Quinson enjoys a calmer and more savage character . It is located between the Quinson dam and Lac d’Esparron. Before being put in water, it used to be a canyon and keeps traces of it such as small gorges and isolated bays. You can practice nautical activities and relax on the beach for a nap or a picnic while savoring the beautiful landscapes Around.

Esparron lake

Following the course of the Verdon, Lake Esparron is the last artificial lake you will find on your route before the river flows into the Durance. Like Lake Quinson, it is one of the wildest lakes with beautiful creeks and cliffs and turquoise water, just like the other lakes in the Verdon. The equipment allows the practice of nautical activities. To appreciate a superb panorama on the lake and the valley, do not hesitate to go to village of Esparron de Verdon.

The hikes

The Blanc Martel trail

The Blanc Martel trail, THE hike to discover the Grand Canyon du Verdon

Among the essential hikes to do in the Verdon, do not miss the Blanc Martel trail! Over a day, it will allow you to discover the superb landscapes of the Grand Canyon du Verdon.

Next River , the Sentier Blanc Martel offers you a sublime crossing of the Grand Canyon du Verdon . You will be amazed! Although sporty, those who are used to hiking will not find it too difficult, except for those who fear vertigo. In summer, it is very popular with tourists.

Starting point: the Maline chalet

To get started, meet in the morning at the starting point located at the chalet de la Maline. From there you will follow a succession of laces to descend to the bed of the Verdon. The paths are stony and you will be sheltered from the sun in the undergrowth.

Arrived at the level of the Verdon river, you will take on the left. You will then follow the course of the Verdon for several kilometers, punctuated by the sound of the current of its turquoise water … Along the way, you can stop at the white pebble beaches and soak your heated feet in the cool water of the Verdon.

Grand canyon du Verdon - cairn beach

The mythical stairs of the Brèche d’Imbert: beware of vertigo!

You will then make a rather intense but short climb of about 150 meters to the Brèche d’Imbert before descending on metal stairs (quite vertiginous …). The hike continues through the “Plage” near Issane, then the Baume aux boeufs and finally the Mescla on the way back down to the Verdon. Finally, you will walk the side of the gorges and take in the great views of the Samson Corridor, the narrowest part of the Grand Canyon. Before arriving, you will have 2 tunnels to go through: the Baumes tunnel then the Baou tunnel (670 m).

Finally, you reach the parking lot of Sublime Point , final stage of the hike. In season, return is possible by bus or taxi. Out of season, you can organize to park a vehicle on arrival, or turn around on the course.

You can choose to do this trail in the opposite direction, but think that a climb of 300 meters will be waiting for you at the end of the route! However, this will be the most favorable option for people prone to dizziness.

Practical information to get started

● Markings: red and white GR

● Distance: 16 km

● Positive elevation: 600 m

● Duration: approximately 6 hours

● Trail prohibited for children under 8 and dogs

● Provide at least 2 liters of water per person, good walking shoes and a flashlight for the tunnels.

The hikes

The Imbut trail

The Imbut trail: a spectacular and sporty hike

The Imbut trail is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Verdon, but also one of the most sporting which will offer you thrills!

As the Blanc Martel trail , the Imbut trail is one of the essentials of the sector ! You will discover the sublime landscapes of the Gorges du Verdon, as well as small secret places (for the bravest!). The course is 6 to 8 kilometers depending on the options you choose. It takes between 4 and 6 hours of walking with a drop of 340 meters downhill and 400 meters uphill.

The starting point is at the Cavaliers car park in the town of Aiguines. After a few minutes of walking, you will find yourself at the level of the Cavaliers cliff. From there you will descend by multiple switchbacks to the Verdon river , up to the Passerelle de l’Estellié. If you want to join the Blanc Martel trail , you can cross the bridge. Otherwise, you will have to continue along the Verdon on this side of the bank. The trail then rises up to 50 meters above the water. You will come across a famous juniper whose age is estimated at two or three thousand years . Take the opportunity to take a break because the view of the Verdon at this location is superb!

Imbut trail - Verdon Gorges
L'imbut - The Heart of the Grand Canyon du Verdon

To see: the Styx and the Baou Béni

You then begin a descent that will lead you to a another point of interest: the Styx , a small canyon located in the Grand Canyon du Verdon. Observe the basins hollowed out by erosion in the limestone rock and the emerald green of the Verdon… It’s beautiful!

Rando Aqua - The imbut jump of the Styx corridor

Continuing on, you will then reach the “ crossing the bad ford “or” maugé », Made up of a superb pile of rocks. Then you will arrive at the large ledge, which overlooks the Verdon river from about twenty meters.

Then you will continue your way among the oaks and box trees and climb up to the intersection of the Vidal trail, which you can take to complete this hike. The other option is to continue the Imbut trail (if you don’t feel too tired!) You will then follow the cliff in the middle of the woods to the Imbut. From there, you can walk along the rocks on the left in order to go towards Baou Béni. This little secret beach is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the Verdon! You can enjoy a well-deserved rest there.

To leave, you will have to retrace your steps to the Imbut then return to the intersection with the Vidal trail. It is in fact by taking this path that you will end the Imbut Path.

Practical information to get started

● Distance: between 4 and 6 km

● Positive elevation: 340 m

● Duration: between 4 and 6 h

● Trail not recommended for children under 10 years old and prohibited for pets

● Provide at least 2 liters of water per person and good walking shoes.

The hikes

The fishermen’s trail

The fishermen’s trail: a dive into the secret of the Gorges du Verdon

This very pretty hike forms an 8 km loop for 650 meters of vertical drop. You can observe a beautiful waterfall, caves, walk along the Verdon, and discover very rich vegetation.

The start of the fishermen’s trail is located at the Colle de l’Olivier car park, between the villages of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and La Palud-sur-Verdon. This hike is rather short but its elevation is quite significant. Don’t forget to bring good shoes and a sufficient supply of water!

Starting from the road located at an altitude of over 700 meters, you gradually descend to the bed of the Verdon (480 meters above sea level). The undulations are numerous and you will have the feeling of riding a roller coaster! But at every turn, you will be blown away by the stunning scenery. Besides, the trail is not very long but allow enough time to stop and enjoy the view!

Panorama on the Verdon river

A path along the Verdon with lush vegetation

Arrived at the level of the Verdon, you will see the river with the typical blue color rush through a narrow passage. You can then enjoy a refreshing picnic break in this bucolic and wooded environment … A small path carved out by water will then lead you to a superb waterfall . Take some time to explore the waterfalls and cave. Many walkers pass by without seeing it … Be careful because it is really worth the detour!

After a few rather difficult switchbacks, with multiple ascents and descents , you will arrive at the meadow Maurin, a place where a certain tranquility reigns. You can catch your breath there and enjoy a beautiful panorama of the canyon .

Other switchbacks await you to complete the course which sometimes gives the impression of never ending. Fortunately, the scenery is still breathtaking! The fauna and the flora are particularly interesting on this course. You will have the possibility in several places to reach the bed of the Verdon, and why not take a dip there!

Chamois on an aqua hike in the Verdon gorges
Vultures in the verdon

Practical information to get started (currently closed on 01/16/2020)

● Markings: yellow

● Distance: 8 km

● Elevation gain: 548 m

● Duration: 2h30

● Difficulty: medium

● Provide at least 2 liters of water per person and good walking shoes.

Atypical villages

The village of Rougon

Stop off in Rougon, a Provencal village at altitude

If you are staying in the Gorges du Verdon, do not miss out on discovering Rougon! This charming Provencal village located in altitude will offer you a magnificent panorama of the landscapes of the Alpes de Haute Provence.

Perched at more than 900 meters in height, the village of Rougon overlooks the Sublime Point and the Gorges du Verdon . You will find it a little away from the road along the Gorges du Verdon. After having made a stopover at the Sublime Point, do not hesitate to take the small winding road that leads there… You will not regret this little detour! Far from the hustle and bustle of modern life , this pretty little village has everything to charm you.

To discover: medieval architecture… and vultures!

Built in the 9th century, Rougon is a medieval village which has retained all its character with its old houses and some ruins. Do not miss those of the castle, an important testimony of our history! Two old bridges are also to be noted for their age and their architecture: the Tusset bridge and the Carajuan Bridge.

Pont de Tusset - view from the sky
Starry night - Rougon village - Verdon gorges

Rougon is one of the 46 member municipalities of the Verdon Regional Natural Park . The village can be the starting point for walks and hikes, like the famous Blanc-Martel trail which will lead you to the Verdon river for unforgettable moments.

And above all, don’t forget to look up… Thanks to its high location, Rougon is a very privileged place for bird watching, especially vultures !

The vultures - Princes of Verdon

Atypical villages

The village of Demandolx

Visit Demandolx, a hilltop village in a beautiful natural setting

Planted at an altitude of nearly 1,200 meters, the village of Demandolx overlooks Lake Chaudanne and Lake Castillon.

If you are visiting the Verdon, do not hesitate to stop off at Demandolx! In this village populated by a hundred souls, you will be able to appreciate the calm and the charm of the small alleys. Without forgetting of course the exceptional view of Chaudanne lakes and Castillon lake whose azure color mingles with the green of the vegetation.

Pretty houses and a sublime view of the lakes

In the alleys of the center of Demandolx, you can stroll and discover pretty little houses with colorful shutters and flower gardens and renovated or old barns. You will also come across the ruins of a medieval castle and a church on your way.

After visiting Demanldox, you can also stop over at Castellane , a very pretty village located about ten kilometers away. Demanldox can also be the starting point for hiking trails.

Ruine de Demandolx - Barrage de Castillon
The hikes

The Cadières de Brandis

Access to Cadières de Brandis: the recommended path

The path that leads to Cadières de Brandis will allow you to enjoy exceptional views of the Verdon and get to know this curious rock formation better.

If you are staying in the Verdon, you could not miss the Cadières de Brandis … Like a castle, they overlook the Verdon and do not go unnoticed in the landscape . Thanks to this path, you will be able to access it and enjoy at the top of a breathtaking panorama .

Great views of the mountain peaks

The starting point of the Cadières de Brandis trail is at the Col des Lèques. From the car park where you can park, cross the road to reach the path through the pines . You will come to a first intersection where you will have to take the left lane. Then at the second intersection, go straight. This ascent will take you to the ridge of Colle Bernaiche where you will enjoy a magnificent panorama on the top of Robion, the top of Teillon and in the background the emerald color of Verdon and the pretty village of Castellane.

Porte saint jean and cadillere of brandis

A scent of lavender and some chamois …

The Cadières de Brandis trail continues along a slightly narrower path that climbs up clear slopes where you can smell a sweet scent of lavender… You will then arrive at a plateau covered with pines. With a little luck, you will come across one or two chamois here! Then the hike continues to the summit of Cadières de Brandis. You are then face to face with this geological wonder and its sumptuous shapes carved out by erosion. You have arrived at the top of the cliff where you can fully enjoy the bird’s eye view and perhaps feel some dizzying chills! If looking down scares you, then look up and you might spot a few vultures !

Chamois hidden in the verdon canyon

To return, you have to turn back between the pines and rocky passages.

Practical information to get started

● Markings: yellow

● Distance: 7.7 km

● Elevation gain: 414 m

● Duration: 3h30

● Difficulty: medium

● Provide at least 2 liters of water per person and good walking shoes.