The Verdon is an incredibly beautiful unspoilt area of inland Provence on the borders of the Var and Alpes de Haute Provence.
The areas surrounding the Verdon River form the Parc Naturel du Verdon, one of France's outstanding and protected areas of natural beauty.
There is a great variety of landscapes with lavender fields, olive groves, vineyards and truffle oak plantations growing on flat plateaus which are cut up by rivers and streams having made deep valleys over the centuries. As you move through to the north and east of the region the hills get bigger and meet the southern Alps.
Our locations are in the heart of this region and everything shown on this page is on the doorstep.
The awesome Gorges du Verdon are one of the major tourist attractions of the region. They have been formed over many thousands of years by the verdon river and are europes largest canyons with the walls rising up to a spectacular 700 m from the river below.
The deep canyon carved into the limestone cliffs lasts for about 21 km (13 miles) with the most impressive part lying between the towns of Castellane and Moustiers-sainte-marie where it then flows into Lac St Croix (giving it its magnificent turquoise colours). from here the lower gorges then take the Verdon into further lakes in Quinson and Esparron.
Driving around, the circular route crosses the gorge several times offering stunning vistas of the gorge and the river far below. Point Sublime is one of the best viewpoints to aim for.
The area is charcterised by lovely old villages perched on the hillsides. None more so than Moustiers Sainte-Marie - often described as one of 'Provences most beautiful villages'.
Originally it was famous for Faience pottery and there is a museum showing its history and displaying many old examples.
Moustiers sits high on the hillside and is divided by a rushing mountain stream and mini gorge with small waterfalls. The village has narrow medieval streets and vaulted passages full of lovely craftshops, cafes and restaurants to visit and in its centre is the beautifully restored 12th century Notre Dame church with its four level bell tower.
The tourist office has a regular timetable of exhibitions throughout the year.
The walk up the the Notre Dame de Beavoir chapel high above Moustiers is excellent and will give you fantastic views of the red tiled village roofs and down the valley to Lac Ste Croix.
The breathtaking scenery of the Verdon make it a haven for hiking. There are many great hiking circuits to be enjoyed. Here are a few examples.
The Blanc Martel trail is one of the famous and most spectacular of the Gorge du Verdon trails. It follows the Verdon river for around 15km and takes around 8 hours ending at Point Sublime. It does however involve climbing on 6 fixed fixed ladders, so not for the faint hearted.
For great views of Lac Ste Croix there is a nice circular route from Bauduen which takes you up the hill towards Les Salles before looping back along the lakeshore to Bauduen, takes about 3 hours.
As well as the main Gorges du Verdon the lower Gorges are also great for hiking, and much less touristy.
For example, Another 3 hr route starts at Quinson following GR66 along the Verdon river before climbing up out of the gorge to the Chapel Sainte Maxime and then returning over the hills.
A vivid turquoise colour from the mineral rich waters of the Verdon, the Lac is 14km long and 2km wide. It is a reservoir and was created 1973 following the building of the barrage at the southern end. It provides water for the cities to the south but has also provided a magnificent recreational playground and is one of the premier attractions to the region.
The Lac is formed in a wide flat river valley and the water is relatively shallow, in summer it warms up and can be warmer than the Mediteranean so it's fantastic for swimming and watersports.
The villages of Sainte Croix, Bauduen, and Les Salles are on the lakeside and all have cafes and restaurants together with various boat hire places and the village of Aiguine sits high on the hillside overlooking the Lac and the plateau.
It's a nice trip out visiting all of these villages.
Beaches surround the Lac, some are accessible by car but you can also find more private ones on foot or better still by boat.
The Lac also provides a magnificent venue for a variety of other activities on and around it, these include
Boat hire - Pedalos, kayaks, sailing boats, windsurfing, electric boats
As you would expect with a rural area there is a lot of natural wildlife.
Wild Boar will often be seen in the evenings and when out walking deer are also a common sight.
One of the most striking things you are likely to see though are large birds of prey and in particular Griffon Vultures.
Once native in the area they had all dissappeared until being reintroduced in 2002. From a few pairs the colony has now increased to several hundred.
They have a wingspan of up to 2.8m and these majestic birds can now be seen all over the Verdon on sunny days circling in thermals. When you see them close they really are a dramatic sight!
In summer the Verdon plateau becomes a wonderfully fragrant multicoloured visual delight as the various crops grow and blossom.
The proximity of L'Occitane perfumery in Manosque and local Cassis distilleries create demand for fragrant crops which flourish in the mediteranean climate.
In the spring there are carpets of poppies and wild flower meadows.
In June Coriander comes into flower and enormous white fields can be seen.
Also in June wonderful pink fields of Clary Sage are in full blossom.
Throughout July carpets of Lavender turn vast tracts of the plateau purple and when it is harvested together with the harvesting of Fennel the air is filled with a heady scent.
Dramatic fields of Sunflowers are also in their prime in July and when planted next to Lavender make for exquisite photographs.
All over France local markets are one pf the traditional sights and the Verdon is no exception. All the towns and villages have weekly markets.
The closet town to us is Riez which has very good markets on Wednesday and Saturday where all the above produce can be found together with food and vegetable sections and much more.
In summer there is a small weekly market at Sainte Croix du Verdon on Tuesday,