Gorges du Verdon

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The Gorges du Verdon have been called the European Grand Canyon, and while this may seem overly ambitious to some, it is a fact that the Verdon river has created what is undoubtedly the largest European canyon. The Verdon derives its name from the French word for green, vert. Indeed, its color ranges from a bluish green to a rich turquoise, depending on the season, the weather, and the time of day. In all other respects, the Verdon is not overly impressive. Its source is near the Col d'Allos at not quite 3000 meters altitude; a mere 175 kilometers (109 miles) later, it flows into the Durance near Vinon-sur-Verdon. After the Gorges du Verdon, the river flows through the artificial Lac de Sainte-Croix. The lake was formed in 1973 when the Sainte-Croix dam was built; the old village of Salles lies at the bottom of the lake at a depth of some 35 meters. The village was completely rebuilt on higher ground, making it the youngest village in all of France. This does not seem to have appeased the inhabitants who had to be driven out of the old village by force.

There are a great many hiking trails in the Gorges du Verdon, and it is quite impossible to see all parts of the canyon in a single day. On Sunday, February 4, 2007, I chose a relatively easy hike called the sentier du pêcheur, or fisherman’s path. It starts from the Route des Gorges at a place called Col de l’Olivier and winds its way down to the bottom of the canyon. It then follows the course of the Verdon for a couple of kilometers before climbing back up. There is only one tricky part where one needs to cross a series of boulders. Cables one can hold onto have been installed as one cannot get a good foothold in that spot. Other than that (and the at times extremely steep path), this is a rather easy excursion. It took me a little over three hours to get back to my car, and that included taking many pictures and stopping to eat my sandwich.

Click on any of the small images below to see a larger version!



The Verdon near Castellane

The fabulous 'Route des Gorges'

The Verdon near Castellane

The fabulous Route des Gorges



My lonely car at the 'Col de l'Olivier'

Something to watch out for!

My lonely car at the Col de l'Olivier

Something to watch out for!



Beginning the descent...

...on the 'Sentier du pêcheur'.

Beginning the descent...

...on the sentier du pêcheur.



Branches

The different parts...

Branches

The different parts...



...of the 'sentier du pêcheur'...

...offer breathtaking views...

...of the sentier du pêcheur...

...offer breathtaking views...



...of the 'Gorges du Verdon'...

...amid changing vegetation.

...of the Gorges du Verdon...

...amid changing vegetation.



A first glimpse of the Verdon from the 'sentier du pêcheur'

And there it is again!

A first glimpse of the Verdon from the sentier du pêcheur

And there it is again!



Still going down...

... through the trees.

Still going down...

... through the trees.



Better not miss a step...

...'cause it's a long way down!

Better not miss a step...

...'cause it's a long way down!



Reaching the bottom

The turquoise color is real, there's nothing wrong with my camera!

Reaching the bottom

The turquoise color is real, there's nothing wrong with my camera!



For a couple of kilometers...

...the path follows the river.

For a couple of kilometers...

...the path follows the river.



The only tricky part of the journey: there are cables to hold on to

The rest is easy

The only tricky part of the journey: there are cables to hold on to

The rest is easy



But already we begin to climb again...

...over roots and rocks.

But already we begin to climb again...

...over roots and rocks.



A last glimpse of the Verdon

The 'Maison du cantonnier'

A last glimpse of the Verdon

The Maison du cantonnier



Climbing higher and higher

Back at the 'Col de l'Olivier'

Climbing higher and higher

Back at the Col de l'Olivier





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This page was last modified on December 8, 2007
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