The Gorge of Verdon is an impressive natural canyon measuring 25km in length and 700m in depth, formed by the Verdon River. The Verdon River is named for it’s striking turquoise coloring, The canyon ends down at Lake Sainte Croix Du Verdon, an artificial lake maximized for water sports like kayaking and paddle boating.
The hike itself was beautiful, but a reminder from someone who learned the hard way, come prepared! If you read my last post on Marseilles and the Calanques, you may have noticed that I forgot my hiking shoes, or even athletic sneakers, and wound up doing all my hiking in a pair of keds! This is actually not as uncomfortable as it sounds, but certainly increases your risk of rolling an ankle! I also had not packed layers.
In my defense, our original plan was to hike Le Sentier de Martel down to the “Styx” or narrowing, where there was allegedly a waterfall and we could potentially go swimming, so it never occurred to me how cold it could actually be down in the bottom of a gorge, which, again, similar to the calanques, is completely shadowed except for a couple hours in the middle of the afternoon. Needless to say, we did not get in the river or the lake, but thoroughly enjoyed the hike.
The gorge is also located in the midst of the Alps as well as the district of Provence. From where we were staying in the Cote d’Azur between Monaco and Italy in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, it was a 4 hour drive. Well, for me driving it was a 4 hour drive, although I was told that it would only have taken 3 hours had my road trip buddy been driving! The road is so severely curvy and narrow though that I did not feel comfortable driving so fast and passing people! Plus it was a beautiful drive through the canyon and the Alps!
After the hike we got to drive through Provence. It was a beautiful drive through the lavender fields. Unfortunately, given the time of year, all the lavender had already been harvested. I was really tempted to hop out of the car and recreate those lavender fields pics that instagram is littered with, with the girls in dresses and hats and the lavender standing tall around them with the mountains in the background? (don’t pretend you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about!) — except mine would have me in my hiking clothes without any lavender!
En route we were able to stop in Moustiers Sainte Marie, a historic commune set between the cliffs that is known for it’s pottery trade, especially faience. There is also a stream that runs through the center of town, providing water-power for the villagers. This is ranked as one of the cutest towns in Provence and given all the small alleys, cobble stoned walkways, and colorful buildings, I couldn’t agree more! It also has sweeping landscape views over wineries and olive groves. There are loads of adorable towns in this region of France, so stop early and often for any excuse you can come up with.