How to Explore France’s Hidden Gem – The Gorges du Verdon

The Gorges du Verdon inside Parc Natural Regional du Verdon are one of France’s GORGEOUS hidden gems. I’m sure it’s much more popular and well-known in France, but for us foreigners, it’s one of those places you NEED to add to your France bucket list.  

When I was researching national parks and natural wonders in France to add to our RV trip from Rome to Paris, the Gorges du Verdon immediately went to the top of my list! I basically built our France portion of the trip around our Verdon visit.  

The Gorges, which are the deepest gorges in France, are most famously known for their 𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗾𝘂𝗼𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝗯𝗹𝘂𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗿 inside the gorge. We were originally planning on spending an entire day kayaking and paddleboarding, but while we were there, Mother Nature had other plans. The day we had designated as water activities, ended up as a downpour, so instead, we drove up inside the mountains to see the gorge from high above. Not for the faint of heart! 

Once the rain subsided, we managed to do a hike down into the gorge. Even though it was a shorter trail, the views inside the mountains were incredible!

Gorges du Verdon

Where are the Gorges of Verdon located? 

Located in the south of France (about 100 km north of Saint-Tropez), the Verdon National Park protects about 700 sq miles of mountainous land. And inside that land are the gorges. 

How to get to the Gorges du Verdon?

To get to the Gorges du Verdon, you’ll need a vehicle to arrive. There is no public transportation that will take you to the gorges, except for maybe an Uber. Here is how to arrive from several close cities: 

  • Nice: 150 km; about a 2 ½ hour drive. Route A8 is the best route and Route D2 has tolls
  • Saint Tropez: 100 km; about 2 hours. Route D955 is the shortest route, but you can also take D957 or D558 and D955
  • Gap: 160 km; about a 2 ½ hour drive. Route A51, and remember that there are tolls. 
  • Lyon: 400 km; 5-hour drive. The A7 will be the most popular, but you can also arrive by D1075
  • Paris: 820 km; 9 hours. If you’re driving from Paris, it will take you an entire day to arrive at the Gorges, so it’s best to either break it up or start very early in the morning. A6 and A7 are the routes to take. 

DRIVING TO THE GORGES TIP: If you’re driving in an RV or motorhome like we were, expect times to be a bit longer due to slower driving with the larger vehicles. And like everywhere in France, make sure you have enough money for the tolls – they are pretty much everywhere!

Cliffs of Gorges du Verdon

The BEST time to visit Gorges du Verdon

We visited the Gorges du Verdon in the early Spring – mid-April. The weather was still a bit chilly, and it ended up raining for three days while we were in the region. If you want warm and sunny weather, summer is the best time to visit – June through August. But keep in mind that this is also the high season for travelers, so you’ll be fighting the crowd. If you are looking for fewer crowds, opt for April – May or September – October. You’ll just have cooler weather and not as many housing options. 

Gorges du Verdon

Can you swim in the Gorges du Verdon?

You can ABSOLUTELY swim in the Gorges du Verdon! Swimming in the clear turquoise waters is what draws many people to the area. There are many beaches to swim at, and if you’re staying at a campground, you’ll most likely be staying near a beach. Our campsite was located right in front of a gorgeous beach with boating and kayaking options. 

Can you hike in the Gorges of Verdon? 

Hiking is another very popular activity inside the Gorges du Verdon, with a plethora of hiking trails to choose from. You can pretty much find every level hike – from easy, great for younger kids to the more challenging trails. There are signs at the beginning of each trail, so always read them before heading down into the gorges. 

Rock climbing and repelling areas inside the Gorges are also extremely popular activities, with over 1,500 courses located inside the limestone cliffs. There are many rock climbing companies in the area to help guide you if this is the type of activity you’re looking for. We saw many different rock-climbing groups during our time in Verdon. 

hiking in the Gorges du Verdon

PRO TIP: Along the Santier Blanc-Martel trail, you’ll find an old mine cave that you can actually go in and explore – Le tunnel du Baou. It’s 670 meters long and very dark inside. Bring a headlamp or flashlight with you! 

Le tunnel du Baou

Where can you camp near the Gorges du Verdon?

Camping is a very popular pastime for this area – and people specifically come to the Gorges du Verdon to camp – us included. We stayed at Les Roches – a municipal campground right on the lake. It was a fantastic location – only minutes from the actual gorges. 

Reservations are needed for campsites, and it does fill up fast. They are open from April 1st through November, and I sent them an email to reserve a spot. The total cost was €50.28 for 2 nights (€25.14/night) – about the same in dollars ($53.02). 

Once you arrive, it’s first-come, first-serve site slots. Even in mid-April when we were there, it was quite full with only a few open sites. I can only imagine that in the summer, they are packed! 

If you want more information on finding campsites in Europe, check out our How to Find Awesome Campgrounds in Europe Guide. 

Camping inside  Parc Natural Regional du Verdon

What outdoor activities can you do at the Gorges du Verdon?

Besides swimming, hiking, rock climbing, and repelling, you can also kayak and paddleboard on the water. On a clear day, you can see hundreds of kayaks and paddleboards in the waters of the gorge. And it’s no surprise as it really is one of the most stunning waters in the world! There are plenty of rental companies in the areas for hourly or daily kayak and paddleboard rentals. 

You can also rent small boats if you want to spend some time relaxing on the water. Boats can be rented by the day or even by the hour. And in the summer, they rent out pretty fast! 

kayaks at Gorges du Verdon

Road Trip – Driving through the Verdon Gorges

If you want to simply take a road trip and drive up through the mountains of the Gorges, that’s an option too. We were never planning on driving to the top, but after our water activities were canceled, we put Plan B into action and took the trek up. 

The drive itself takes a couple of hours to ascend to the top of the mountains, around the rim of the Gorges, and back down again. It’s an extremely intense drive with narrow roads and cliffs jetting straight down on your side. Driving the Gorges in an RV made the trip even more intensified, and at one point, we had to stop at one of the lookout points so I could move to the back. 

That being said, the views from the top of the mountains are simply incredible! The gorges that dive straight down to the bottom are like nothing we had ever seen before. And there are lookout spots along the route for photo and video ops – for those who want to capture those Instagram moments. 

Driving the Gorges TIP: If you are prone to anxiety attacks or have a fear of heights/cliffs, this is NOT the drive for you! This drive was the first time I had ever experienced an anxiety attack, and it was very scary for me. I just thought I’d share this experience to spare anyone from the same fate. 

Road trip through Gorges du Verdon

Tips for exploring the Gorges du Verdon

After our RV excursion to Verdon National Park and the Gorges, here are a few tips we thought we’d share with you for your trip:

  • Bring enough food with you for your entire camping stay. Our campground had BBQ pits where you could conveniently cook your meat.
  • Make sure you fill up your gas tank BEFORE entering the Gorges – especially if you plan on road-tripping circling the rim. 
  • Don’t forget to make a stop at  Lac de Sainte-Croix! It’s a stunning lake leading into the Gorges that shouldn’t be missed.  
  • If you’re planning on renting a boat or kayak, arrive EARLY in the morning. Summer rentals go fast, and you don’t want to miss out! 
  • Many places only speak French, so if you don’t speak any, utilize Google Translate or a translation app to help you out.
  • If you’re visiting during the Spring, be prepared for some rainy days. It’s always nice to have a Plan B in place – just in case. 
  • Make sure you bring headlamps or flashlights for the night and/or hiking. We bring our headlamps everywhere with us.
Lac de Sainte-Croix

Are the Gorges du Verdon worth visiting?

In a word – YES! The Gorges du Verdon are DEFINITELY worth visiting! They are a France bucket list destination for sure. From the breathtaking views inside the gorges to the sparkling turquoise waters running through the ravine, it’s one of those places that you’ll be talking about for a long time to come! 

How to Explore the Gorges du Verdon Pin

One Comment on “How to Explore France’s Hidden Gem – The Gorges du Verdon

  1. Pingback: The Ultimate Europe RV Trip: Rome to Paris Travel Guide

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