The Gorges and the Verdon Regional Natural Park
From its source at 2819 metres at the col d’Allos, the Verdon river runs 165 km before falling into the Durance at Vinon-sur-Verdon. In the middle of its course, the river literally digs into the mountain range, giving rise to the Verdon Gorge which forms the largest canyon in Europe. With its majestic limestone cliffs and emerald water, the landscape here is breathtaking. To give you an idea of the titanic dimensions of the protected site, the height of the cliffs can reach up to 700 metres and the width up to 100 metres!
There are various ways to explore the Gorge. On foot or by water, for the more sporty; by motorbike, car or bicycle, for the more contemplative. The Route des Crêtes takes you along a 24-kilometre circuit along the crests of the Grand Canyon. Punctuated by 14 belvederes, the route reveals the mythical cliffs of the Verdon river with unforgettable views. You will have the opportunity to observe the vultures and also the climbers who roam the cliffs of the canyon.
The Route des Crêtes starts after the exit of the village of La Palud-sur-Verdon in the direction of Rougon. As a portion of the road is one-way, be sure to follow the direction, as indicated by the signs in and around the village.
The Martel trail
In the heart of the Grand Canyon, the legendary Martel trail immerses you in a hike deep in the Gorge…
Do not hesitate to contact the Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon Tourism Office for more information.
In 1905, two adventurers and flora and fauna enthusiasts were commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture to find new drinking water sources to supply Provence. Alfred-Edouard Martel (speleologist) and Isidore Blanc (teacher), lead the expedition for the first time in this wild abyss. It would take them 4 days to cross the entire Canyon. Their name would be given to the Blanc-Martel trail (16km) that hikers know so well today.
Surrounded by perfectly preserved landscapes, the Verdon Natural Regional Park, was created in March 1997 in response to the challenge of finding an optimal balance between economic activities and the preservation of various types of heritage. To this end, the Park has set itself 4 objectives:
An open book on geology, fauna, flora and human history, the Park’s terrain offers a wide variety of landscapes and environments. A few examples illustrate the unique biodiversity of this region: the little bustard, the griffon vulture, the ocellated lizard (the largest in Europe) and 22 species of bats out of 32 recorded in France. The river, 165 km long and with a storage capacity of 434 million m³, constitutes along with the Durance, the water tower of Provence. It supplies quality drinking water to the region’s major cities.
The Verdon Natural Regional Park carries out actions to raise awareness and educate people about the environment, for the rehabilitation of the heritage, the study of fauna and flora, the protection of sensitive sites, the development of reception and information structures, the creation of cultural and entertainment centres, and the management of the listed sites of the Verdon Gorge.