In the Southeast of France lies the deepest and most spectacular canyon in the country, where beautiful blue waters carve through dramatic limestone formations to create a dream travel destination.
Visitors to the Gorges du Verdon will find plenty of things to do, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, cliff jumping and hiking. Surrounding roads provide a popular route for road-trippers, too.
It’s not only the beauty of the landscape that attracts people, but also the incredible wildlife on display around the canyon.
The crags of the canyon provide the perfect nesting habitat for birds, meaning vultures, eagles and other rare birds of prey swoop around the normally clear blue skies of Southeast France.
The area is a hotspot for vultures, with the birds reintroduced to the gorge in 1999. Griffin vultures and black vultures populate the area now, so make sure you pack your binoculars.
Around the edge of the gorge is the perfect setting for a French road trip. Because of the scenic route, the road has become an extremely popular destination for road-trippers.
The recommended route starts at Moustiers Sainte-Marie and goes as far as Trigance. The entire circuit is just over 90km (56mi) and takes around two hours to complete.
Along the way are delightfully charming little French villages, tunnels sculpted through the walls of the canyon and views, in one direction, over the Lac de Sainte-Croix, and in the other, into the Gorges du Verdon.
There are a host of walking trails in the area for hikers to indulge in, from easy strolls to challenging hikes.
Sentier de l’Imbut is the most popular route. It starts at the Hotel du Grand Canyon and follows the GR99 trail from the lip of the gorge, down to the bottom and back. The hike is mildly challenging but suitable for any age and takes around three hours.
Other impressive walks include the challenging trek along the rocky Sentier Vidal and easier routes such as the GR99 from Aiguines to the Sentier de L’Imbut and the GR49 that runs from Trigance to Rougon.
The gorge is also great for kayaking, with alluring blue waters and irresistible surrounding views.
For the best place to kayak, head down to the lower section of the gorge towards Lac de Sainte-Croix where there are boat-hire outlets near the bridge on the D957.
Alongside the Gorges du Verdon, there’s loads to explore in the area.
Lying at the mouth of the Alpes de Haute Provence is the Verdon Natural Regional Park with a whole host of spectacular landscapes, serene nature and quaint French villages.
One of the first stops in the park should be the blue lake of Sainte-Croix – ideal for a picnic, cycling or even some water sports.
Further along is the Plateau of Valensole, a sea of geometrically aligned lavender. Between June and early August, the breathtaking field illuminates into a deep purple wave.
Moustiers Sainte-Marie is the most picturesque village in the region. Referred to as the star of the gorge, this remarkable settlement sits at the base of a staggered limestone valley and lights up the entire area at night, providing the most stunning photo opportunities.