The Verdon Gorges are one of the top places to visit in the regional natural park in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the top of the Var . Every year, they attract climbing professionals , because they have 2,500 routes, some of which are very difficult. They are also visited by many tourists in summer because of the breathtaking beauty of the place. It is possible to navigate by electric motor boat, canoe or pedalo from Sainte-Croix lake . Here is how to stroll on the Verdon and admire these superb gorges while navigating quietly over the water.
The Gorges du Verdon were dug by the river of the same name between the lac de Sainte-Croix and the town of Castellane . They are a natural border between the Var and the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. These gorges are narrow and deep (250 m to 700 m deep). The Verdon traced this course to the Tertiary era during the construction of the Alps. At the time of Gaul, the Verdon valley was inhabited by the Vergunni , but the gorges attract attention only in the 16th century. It was in 1879 that André Reclus made a complete description of it and the gorges began to attract people during the Belle Époque . Five dams were built on the Verdon between 1929 and 1975 creating the Sainte-Croix lake and the annihilation of Salles-sur-Verdon in 1973.
The most remarkable viewpoints of the Gorges du Verdon are the Styx du Verdon which is a very steep place in the river resembling a small canyon and the Imbut which is also a narrow passage where the Verdon disappears underground under a gigantic rocky chaos. Imbut in Provençal Occitan means funnel .
To arrive in the Gorges du Verdon, there are two road routes. The first is via the D952 between Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and the other goes from Aiguines to Castellane on the left bank by the:D71, D90 and D955 . Afterwards, the best way to visit the Gorges du Verdon from below is to navigate directly on the river in a pedal boat. Here is all the information that will allow you to visit this remarkable site in this original way.
To visit the Gorges du Verdon by pedal boat, you must go to one of the pedal boat rental companies present on the shores of Lake Sainte-Croix. Know that in the off season between May and June or September and October, you will have no difficulty renting a pedal boat at the last moment. On the other hand, in high season, you must reserve your equipment a few days in advance in order to be sure to have it for the day of your visit. The nautical bases are well located along the lake and many car parks are arranged to leave your vehicle there. Be aware that the Sainte-Croix lake is very large and it is better to favor the nautical bases, very close to the entrance to the gorges to have less to pedal.
You can rent a pedalo as a couple, with friends or family, as their capacity is 2.4 or 6 people . Once you set off on a pedal boat, you are free to go wherever you want. Be aware that some pedal boats have a toboggan and are very suitable for children to dive in although the water of the Verdon is always a little cool as well as that of the lake which never exceeds 26° in the middle of summer. Take advantage of your rental to take a picnic on board and some business, as there are many small beaches along the river where you can stop .
From Lac de Sainte-Croix, you can enter directly into the mouth of the Grand Canyon of the Verdon. You will be amazed by the turquoise color of the water . You will meet other people in pedal boats, but do not worry, the river is wide enough to pass you. Also note that in this area, motor boats are prohibited except boats with an electric motor. You will therefore be peaceful throughout your journey.
The price of a pedal boat depends on the season, the number of people and the duration. Here are some approximate prices to give you an idea. For a pedal boat for 4 people , the price for the first half hour is around €10. It then becomes degressive. For one hour, count 17 €, 28 € for 2 hours, 45 € for a 4 h 30 pass and 66 € for the day from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from the Sainte-Croix lake and wherever you go in high season. In low season the prices are the same, but the rental hardly exceeds 3 hours at 35 €.
The Gorges du Verdon reveal even more surprises, as there are also the bass-gorges which are also worth exploring on a pedal boat. Less known than the first, they are also exceptional and much wilder. You can leave from Lac de Quinson or Lac d’Esparron to practice them. You can rent a pedal boat for the morning from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or for the day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Your reservation can be made online on several rental sites and in summer, it is advisable to book a few days in advance to make sure you have a place. Package rates do not apply in high season with some rental companies in July and August. The best is to look at the prices on their site or to call them for this precise information.
Whether you do the lower gorges or the great gorges of the Verdon on a pedal boat , in any case, you will enjoy the enchanting landscapes and the exceptional panoramas what these places have in store for you. Remember to reserve a day of good weather, although some rental companies agree to postpone it to the next day if you encounter such a problem. Also remember to always have something to drink with you so you don't get dehydrated, because the pedal boat is tiring for several hours and in the gorges, the sun can be quite strong .