Things to see and do - French Alps
The Gorges du Verdon :
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The Gorges du Verdon
The Gorges du VerdonBy car, 61 km, 1 day
America has its Grand Canyon, and Europe its Gorges du Verdon. While the Verdon is on an Old World scale that can't compete with the gigantic dimensions of the Colorado River, its sheer drops range from 250 to 700 metres, providing spectacularly beautiful vistas. As incredible as it may seem, these gorges were inaccessible and unexplored for a long time - until the 1900s.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
In the Occitan language, mescal signifies "mixture", and these balconies tower 250m above the spot where the waters of the Verdon River mingle with those of its tributary, the Artuby. In this wild, grandiose setting, the river's crystal waters rush past a narrow knife-edged ridge. Note the depth of the north-south facing gorges upstream, which are between 400 and 500m in places. The view is best from the upper belvedere.
The cirque, planted with beech, curves above the Verdon at an altitude of around 700m, and is best admired from the road between Balcons de la Mescla and Moustiers-Ste-Marie, which reaches a height of 1 204m. You can also savour stunning views of the source of the Vaumale and the Lac de Ste Croix, with the Luberon, the Montagne de Lure and Mont Ventoux further away.
This pass marks the end of the gorges and is a perfect spot to stop and admire the seemingly bottomless Grand Canyon for one last time. Upstream the horizon is dotted with bluish peaks, among which the spur of Montagne Ste-Victoire. In the foreground are the Valensole plateau and the Lac de Ste-Croix.
The reservoir, into which the River Verdon flows as it comes out of the gorges, was created in 1975 and covers some 5 436 acres. Its turquoise-coloured waters stretch for over 10km and are ideal for water sports. The lake's shores are lined with Provençal villages and beaches, commanding lovely views of the surrounding countryside, including the Valensole plateau. The best viewpoint is, however, at the Pont de Galetas which spans the Verdon. The entrance to the gorges can be seen on one side, with the lake stretching out on the other.