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Gréoux les Bains, France, the Verdon: 1 park, 7 landscapes

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Straddling the departments of Alpes de Haute-Provence and Var, it extends over 45 municipalities. This Natural Park is renowned for its Gorges, the deepest in Europe (up to 700m deep). It thus receives more than a million visitors per year!

carte_parc_verdon v2.JPG
Haut Var
Basses Gorges

- The Valensole plateau

Known worldwide for its cultivation of lavandin (hybridization between fine lavender and aspic lavender), it brings together around twenty municipalities (including Gréoux les Bains). Valensole is its "capital". Its economy is essentially oriented towards agriculture and tourism.

In addition to lavandin, there are also almond trees, truffle oaks, olive trees and apple trees (in the South). The cultivation of wheat has also greatly developed in recent decades.

Several hiking routes are accessible, on foot, by bike, by quad, or even on horseback.

More information on Wikipedia and the Valensole website (in french).

- The Basses Gorges


Less impressive than those of the grand canyon but no less interesting, these Gorges have been inhabited since prehistoric times. There are many testimonies from this period, such as caves in particular, in the town of Quinson (where the largest museum in Europe devoted to prehistory is located) .

 

Bas Verdon has many lakes: Esparron, Saint Laurent, Montpezat, Quinson,… The 2 main towns in this area are Esparron-de-Verdon and Quinson, from which various hiking trails and water sports are offered.

You can also enjoy a commented walk on the lake aboard "La Perle du Verdon".

Bordered by maquis of holm oaks and kermes oaks, its waters connect the lake of Esparron de Verdon to that of Sainte Croix for about 9 kms.

For amateurs, its waters are home to almost all the species of fish inhabiting the fresh waters of the South of France (brown trout, pike, pike perch, perch and other bleaks and roaches). This makes it a recognized fishing "spot" (subject to respecting the rules ...).

More peaceful than those of the Gorges, they also allow the practice of "calm" nautical activities such as paddle, canoe, pedal boat or electric boat.

These can be done from the beach of St Julien (west of Lake Esparron, easily accessible from Gréoux les Bains), or more to the east at the village of Esparron.

Finally, from Quinson, a hiking trail accessible to all also allows you to follow the Basses Gorges (allow about 5 hours).

- The hills of Haut Var

Relatively still away from tourism, these hills alternate with landscapes of forests and cultivated clearings (olive trees, vines, truffle oaks ...) . There are also some windmills (in Régusse) and water (in Vinon sur Verdon) previously used for making flour.

In Sillans, a hike allows you to access another curiosity: a set of waterfalls.

- The lake of Ste Croix and its surroundings

11 km long and 5 km wide, this lake is the 3td in France by area. It was built from a dam built in 1974.

It has become a summer tourism center due to the many water activities on offer (including sailing). Most of their installations are located in villages with direct access to the lake (Bauduen, Les Salles sur Verdon and Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon).

It is also used for scooping Canadairs during fires in the region.

 

You can also tour the lake by car (even if the route is sometimes away).

This can be the opportunity to discover other nearby villages:

Aiguines : clinging to the hillside, this village offers you a breathtaking view of the lake, the Valensole plateau and the first foothills of the Alps. Starting point for hikes to Les Salles sur Verdon or the summit of Grand Margès, Aiguines also offers you to indulge in climbing or paragliding.

Aups : further south, this village - classified among the Cities of Character of the Var - will delight lovers of old stones and the Provençal hinterland.

Bauduen : in addition to its typically Provençal appearance (fountains, washhouse and other picturesque passages), this village offers a beach very (too ?!) popular for swimming and water activities.

Les Salles sur Verdon : another privileged point of view from which to admire the lake and the first foothills of the Alps, this village offers particularly well-appointed banks below with small beaches shaded by holm oaks, nautical activities, and even a slipway municipal council to launch your own boat.

Moustiers Ste Marie : classified among the "most beautiful villages of France", its production of high quality earthenware, recognized throughout the world, adds to its prestige. Disappeared for 2 centuries, this tradition was reborn in 1927 when an enthusiast decided to relaunch this craft. Be careful, however, to the multitude of inexpensive products but not "Made in Moustiers" ...

Another feature that makes Moustiers famous is its star, stretched between 2 mountains above the village (symbol, according to legend, of a wish made by a knight during the Crusades).

Particularly touristy, be vigilant when you go to visit this village (especially in summer, avoid market days ...).

A special and personal mention for the restaurant La Bonne Auberge (part of the "Maitres Restaurateurs") for its local and particularly tasty cuisine (all for a reasonable price).

Ste Croix du Verdon : another place offering a magnificent view of the lake, the Haut Var hills and the first foothills of the Alps. The banks also benefit from large, well-equipped beaches and nautical activities (including a sailing school)

Montpezat : Made up of two small villages a few kilometers apart, the town of Montagnac-Montpezat is located west of Lake Sainte-Croix , and at the southern end of the Valensole plateau . Less touristy than the outskirts of Valensole, but also well supplied with lavandin fields, you can enjoy them in peace.

More information on the lake of Ste Croix on Wikipedia and here.

- Gorges du Verdon

To the east of Lake Sainte-Croix, is the Pont de Galetas which marks the start of the Gorges du Verdon canyon which stretches over 21 km.

By car, 2 roads allow you to discover them. In both cases, count half a day ("photo" breaks included!). By either of these routes, you can admire its Gorges, 250m wide and up to 700m deep, from multiple lookouts.

The most impressive route is that of the left bank, in the south therefore, aptly nicknamed "the Corniche Sublime". To the west, it leaves from Aiguines by the D71 to the Balcons de la Mescla (approximately 25 km).

By the right bank, you take the "Route du Nord" from Moustiers Ste Marie following the D952, until La Palud-sur-Verdon (approximately 20 kms).
You can continue by following the loop made by the D23 (also called "Route des Crêtes", approximately 20 additional kms). Note that this road is one-way, so you can also take it by electric bike in complete safety ...

By continuing your journey on the D952 to the village of Rougon, you will benefit from an exceptional panorama.

Hikers can take advantage of several routes, the best known of which are the Sentier Blanc-Martel, Cadières de Brandis, Sentier des Siréniens, among others.

Lovers of (more) strong sensations can also indulge in:
- climbing, with more than 900 accessible routes
- paragliding, flying among vultures and other golden eagles
- white water sports (canyoning, rafting, canoeing)

- Lakes & Mountains Verdon

The north-east of the park gives a glimpse of the Pre-Alps, with its Montdenier (1750 m), Chiran (1905 m) and Mourre de Chanier (1930 m) massifs. You can also discover 2 reservoirs, those of Castillon and Chaudanne.

- The Artuby

Located at the eastern end of the Gorges du Verdon into which it flows, this river stretches for 53 km from the Alpes Maritimes (and crossing an 18 km canyon) to the Pont de l'Artuby where the Bungee jumping.

Artuby also designates a territory made up of valleys partitioned by often high rocky reliefs. It gives pride of place to the forest, which feeds most of the activities, as well as to sheep farming. From the summer pastures to the bottom of the valleys, transhumance thus punctuates the seasons.

More general information on the Verdon Regional Natural Park:

- Verdon Park

- Verdon Tourism

- https://www.tourisme-alpes-haute-provence.com/plein-les-yeux/

- http://www.provence-tourisme.fr/tourisme-en-provence-1/verdon/
- https://www.lacs-gorges-verdon.fr/

Valensole
Ste Croix
Gorges
Lacs-Montagnes
Artuby
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