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Verdon Canyon: the Grand Canyon of Provence

To the north of the famous beaches of the French Riviera is one of France’s natural wonders, the Grand Canyon of Verdon. The Canyon is located inland, far from the coast, between the villages of Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, about 90 km from Grasse and St. Raphael, 110 km from Cannes. The canyon ends at the Lac de Ste-Croix reservoir.

The Verdon river, which forms the canyon, has its sources between the Col d’Allos and the Pic des Trois-Évêchés (2,819 meters) in the Alpes de Haute Provence. The Verdon has a course of 175 km and is a tributary of the Durance, which in turn flows into the Rhone.

The visit of the Verdon canyon is an excursion not to be missed for those staying on the French Riviera. The Verdon Gorges are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Provence. The most spectacular part of the canyon is above all the one between the towns of Castellane and Pont du Galetas on Lake St. Croix, an artificial lake built after the construction of the dam of the same name (barrage de Sainte-Croix) in 1973.

A SPECTACULAR CANYON

The canyon has vertical walls that reach heights ranging from 250 to 700 meters, a width between 6 meters and 100 meters, at the base, and between 200 meters and 1,500 meters from one side to the other in the upper part of the gorge. The canyon in its most spectacular part extends for a length of around 20 km. This grandiose and wild scenery has been formed over the millennia by the Verdon river which with its emerald green waters makes the gorge even more suggestive.

Among the most particular areas of the Canyon, the so-called Styx du Verdon, named with reference to the Styx of Greek mythology, one of the five rivers in the Underworld, is a sort of mini canyon in the canyon. While the so-called Imbut is a point where the river narrows until it disappears underground. Verdon Canyon is often considered one of the most beautiful canyons in Europe.

For its beauty, the canyon is a destination of great tourist attraction. Two road routes allow you to visit the Verdon Canyon: a first route follows the D952 road which runs along the right bank northwards from Castellane to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. The second road route follows the left bank, southwards, between Aiguines and Castellane along roads D71, D90 and D995. The canyon area is a destination for lovers of hiking, canoeing, paragliding, rafting and bungee jumping.

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