A day-hike in the Gorges du Verdon

In September 2011, we rented a house in Provence where we did several great day-hikes, including one down into the Gorges du Verdon and back up to the rim. We started from Point Sublime, which is at the junction of the GR4 and GR49 trails (which offer inspiration for future through-hikes). It was a very hot and sunny day in mid-September. It felt like full-blown summertime, but in the shade it was pleasantly cool and fall made its presence known through the bright red and fiery orange leaves on some trees. This late in the season we didn’t have to fight the crowds. In fact, we met very few people on the trail.

point_sublime


Here we are at Point Sublime, the starting point and return of our day trip down into the Verdon Gorge and back up.

Right from the very start, the scenery is awesome. Through the eons, the Verdon River has carved its way down into the limestone mass to create a deep canyon that winds its way for some 25 km through these ancient coral reefs.

the_gorge


Peering down into the Couloir Samson of the Verdon Gorge from the rim at Point Sublime, grappling with the stark contrast between its sunlit faces and darker depths. The canyon runs several hundreds of meters deep (quite impressive by European standards).

The trail was very easy to follow and made for an easy walk. We stopped occasionally to take a good look at …

vultures


Wow! Look at those big ones!

…what exactly? Vultures! Le Vautour Fauve (Gyps fulvus; ‘Griffon vulture’ in English) to be more precise. These giants of the air were soaring the thermals high above us. With a wing-span of up to 2.8 m wide they are truly impressive!

vautour


Welcome back mighty giants! Nice to see you!

From the trail we had great views of the gorge and the turquoise river, while we worked our way downwards along the switchbacks. Our hiking poles were useful in relieving some stress on the knees.

On the way down.


On the way down.

Once we had made it all the way down, it sure felt good to cool off in the river, then stretch out on the pebble beach, rest our feet and knees, and replenish our energy stores before the return hike up to the rim.

swimming


M testing the strength of the Verdon’s current before swimming across.

Lunch was served up. On the menu: levain (sourdough bread), saucisson (salami), fresh fruits, water and coffee. What else could you ask for? A piece of chocolate? OK, I guess we had one or two of those too.

lunch


Goodness.

The hike back up to the rim wasn’t too tiring, but we did work up a thirst in the afternoon heat. Little M got to ride on dad’s shoulders for a very short while, when it looked like the end point was miles and miles away along a steep and never-ending dusty trail that wasn’t any fun at all. But, what do you know: Point Sublime appeared magically beyond the next outcrop, and we could soon quench our thirst with the water we had stashed at the finish line. High spirits soon returned and we savored the last views of the gorge and surrounding mountains in the golden, late-afternoon sun, before taking off back home. 

On the way back to our rented house in Tourettes, we stopped for some additional refreshments at a cafe in a quaint old village (plenty of those in this part of the world).

cafe


Deux express, s’il vous plait.

refreshments


…and some sirop de peche blanche, spiked with sparkling mineral water!

A longer trip through this area is definitely on our wish list for the future. Here’s some inspiration!

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7 thoughts on “A day-hike in the Gorges du Verdon

    • Hej Yvonne,

      As far as I remember, it took us about 3 hours roundtrip, not counting the break at the bottom. I’m not sure about the distance, perhaps 10 km or so, it’s all down-down-down and up-up-up. Highly recommended!

  1. Hello! Do you recall where you hired your guide? I am looking to hire a guide for a day hike in the Verdon Gorge next month.

      • Thanks for your reply! Do you recall how easy/difficult was it to navigate without a guide? My preference was for a guide, but perhaps we don’t need one? Thank again 🙂

      • It’s very easy to navigate: well maintained trails that are fairly well marked. I would not recommend hiring a guide for this particular day hike. Good luck and enjoy!

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