Canoeing in Gorge du Verdon, Provence

After finishing my one month summer french course in Nice, I went on a road trip through the South of France. This was already 5 years ago. Time flies, and my french isn’t getting any better!

We spent some days along the coast side before breaking into the french countryside. It was going to be my first time in the deep Provence. Fields of lavender and villages made of stones – that’s all I could think of.

Yes, I was uneducated and naïve.

The Gorge du Verdon is known as the Grand Canyon of Europe. It runs for around 25 km, between Castellane and Moustiers-Ste-Marie and goes down to over 700 meters depth. There are plenty of viewpoints along the road but the best views can be found when standing on one edge of the gorge. One of the main ones is Les Balcons de la Mescla, on the southern wall. This natural balcony overlooks the point in which the Verdon and Artuby rivers meet.

I never expected such a landscape in Provence.

When staring down hundreds of meters, I was fascinated by the color of the water carried by the Verdon river. From the top, it shines in an inviting deep turquoise-green!

At the western edge Gorge du Verdon, the river flows into lake of Sainte-Croix. From there, we rented a canoe to paddle into the gorge. Once you get to see the river closer, you’ll realize that the water has a somewhat milky appearance. This immediately made me alert: I couldn’t really see what was swimming next to me!

I sat there, in the canoe with the sun shining in my face, watching other people jump into the water and weighting the pros and cons of taking the risk. After a couple of minutes, I putt aside my fears of being trapped by seaweed or bitten by one of those deep sea creatures (river version), and took a plunge into the milky turquoise river!

The fresh water was perfect to cool down from the hot temperature. And once inside, I completely forgot about deep river creatures and seaweed, and enjoyed the afternoon.

30 thoughts on “Canoeing in Gorge du Verdon, Provence

  1. Oh, those photos take me back! I studied abroad in Aix in college, and we went there as well. I can’t wait to get back to Provence!

  2. Lovely set of photos. I’ve read about France’s version of the Grand Canyon – on many occasions – all in glowing terms – but never have I seen the photos until today. I’ll add this trip to my list.

  3. Gorgeous photographs! Your experience reminds me of Cavagrande in Sicily. It’s considered the “Grand Canyon of Sicily”, but they have these natural springs at the bottom you can swim in. I was fearful of the water too, but it was incredibly refreshing after a hike down.

  4. Wow! What incredible photos! I had no idea there was such incredible beauty in France! It is just across the channel, i really must make an effort to visit.

  5. Wow! How freaking gorgeous! I never knew France had THIS kind of beauty! Now I actually *want* to go to France (before, I never really had the urge), but to see THIS! Amazing. Thanks for the share 🙂

  6. Wow, I have never heard of this Gorge before, thanks for filling me in on it! Isn’t it funny how we always look back at our past travels and sometimes cringe at our naivety? My first trip to Europe was in ’06 and I can barely read those blogs now.

  7. SO pretty – I would never expect Provence to look like that either!

    You are giving me so many must-see places to add to my list!


    1. Yes… I find it sometimes sad when people visiting France miss out on smaller places which, in my opinion, have much more charm and adventure than well, the typical St Tropez, Paris or Nice! There’s so much more to see!

  8. Yes! It was pretty cold… but it was so hot outside that it was really the only option left! Besides, in the Canary Islands water isn’t really warm neither… so I’m kind of used to the cold 🙂

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