Hiking in the Gorges du Verdon
3 Classic Day Hikes in the Gorges du Verdon
What better way to spend a long weekend than a hike through one of Europe’s most beautiful river canyons, the Gorges du Verdon.
This 3 day hike, is packed full of stunning views and will give you a real sense of being right in the middle of the Gorge. You can rearrange the 3 days to suit your trip but the last day of the hike is the famous Blanc-Martel trail, named after the two explorers and their team who discovered the Gorge in wooden canoes!
There aren’t many canyon walks as spectacular as this anywhere in Europe.
The Blanc-Martel trail is one of the most popular hikes in France, and for good reason. There aren’t many canyon walks as spectacular as this anywhere in Europe. Hiking through ancient oak trees, you can see tiny silhouettes of climbers in the crevices of the massive canyon walls and griffon vultures soaring on thermals. With good climbs and steep descents (although these are short!), the route is varied, wild and beautiful.
You can normally hike this loop from April until mid-November if you are smart about where you sleep. We recommend you hike it in the fall when the colours are mind blowing. If you do it in summer, take plenty of water as the canyon gets very hot.
Leave from the quiet village of Rougon. Parking is free and you can abandon your car here with no worries. A little piece of information about Rougon – it claims to have been responsible for the reintroduction of griffon vultures.
You can get to Rougon from the east by Castellane (Digne – Cannes – Nice) and from the west by Moustiers – Sainte Marie (Marseille – Lyon). If you come from neighboring Var, in the south, go through Comps et Trigance.
Rougon to La Palud-sur-Verdon
The first day’s hike sets the scene – stunning scenery, peaceful and wild. You climb above the tiny village around a rocky point. Then you’ll see the remains of an ancient castle in front. At this point catch a breath to enjoy the views. The area is a vast limestone plateau with lots of ravines and gorges and shallow green water.
The hiking trail signs throughout the Gorges du Verdon have recently been redone, so the trails are all easy to follow. Head west to les Michels et les Chauvets, which is a gîte and restaurant famous for its goats cheese. The path then heads east to the abandoned town of Châteauneuf-lès-Moustiers.
Just before you arrive under the cliff, you’ll see a 16th century chapel nestled in a fortified cave. The story goes that a Templar once took refuge in the chapel when he escaped prison.
Carry on and you’ll be just getting into your stride when you arrive at La Palud by le Col de la Croix.
Start Village of Rougon 1000 m. Finish La Palud-sur-Verdon 930 m.
Climb 600 m. Descent 480 m. Duration 5.5 to 6 hours.
La Palud-sur-Verdon to La Maline
You begin this hike by climbing high above the village of La Palud. Follow the GR4 to Grinhan ravine which leads to the D 952. 100 m along the tarmac and you’re now on the Sentier Bastidon which overlooks the gorge. Cross over the little dried up streams and the trail becomes a narrow passage carved into the vertical cliff.
Follow the river and the trail begins to climb up to the famous Route des Crêtes and it’s here you’ll get some of the most spectacular views of the canyon. The trail runs alongside the road until it becomes so narrow the trail has to give way to the road. Follow the road for 3 km to the chalet du CAF de la Maline, which looks like it’s suspended over the edge of the gorge. It’s an amazing place to spend the night.
Start La Palud-sur-Verdon 930 m. Finish Chalet de la Maline 900 m.
Climb 650 m. Descent 700 m. Duration 5.5 h to 6 hours.
La Maline to Rougon
On the final day, you are hiking in paradise. Dense Mediterranean vegetation and lush gardens suspended in the middle of the vertical limestone cliffs.
The Blanc-Martel trail begins with a long descent and you then more or less follow the river.
At the Imbert gap, you’ll be glad of the steps courtesy of the Touring Club de France. Under the Paroi Rouge (Red Wall), follow the while slabs. Next are the famous tunnels. Go through the opening which brings you down into the beautiful baume de Pigeons. The metal staircase looks like it has disappeared.
In summer the heat is immense and the route is incredibly busy but it isn’t hard to see why it is so popular. Over 30,000 visitors each year hike this trail.
When you arrive in the carpark (couloir Samson) it’s just a final push on a small trail to Rougon which takes about one hour.
If you are shattered you can hail a lift in the carpark!
Start Chalet La Maline 900 m. Finish Parking coloir of Samson 610 m then Rougon 1000 m.
Climb 1000 m. Descent 650 m. Duration 6.5 to 7.5 hours.
Here’s a few recommendations for places to stay near the walking trails in the Gorges du Verdon. La Palud-sur-Verdon, Rougon, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and Trigance are all ideally located with easy access to the hiking trails.
We have found the IGN Institut Géographique National tourism maps to be the best for exploring the area:
Summer shuttle buses (Navettes) – La Maline to Castellane and Point Sublime, +33 (0)4 92 34 22 90
Taxi Verdon, 04120 La Palud-sur-Verdon, +33 (0)6 68 18 13 13
Maison des Gorges du Verdon
Mairie – Le Château
04120 La Palud sur Verdon
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 77 32 02
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 83 61 14
Please leave a comment below if you need specific advice for your hiking trip to the Gorges du Verdon, or if you have any recommendations to help us improve this article. Bonnes vacances !