How to Visit the Gorges du Vernon

Ready for a spectacular vacation? If so, an excursion to the Gorges du Verdon is sure to be on your bucket list. Luckily, there are several ways to make the visit.

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

8 min read

How to Visit the Gorges du Vernon

Verdon Gorge | ©Claude Da Costa

Considered by travelers and locals alike as one of the best things to do in Nice, the Parc Naturel du Verdon is the name given to the protected area where Europe's largest canyon is located. It is located just north of the French Riviera, so the drive is completed in just a few hours.

The mountainous ensemble is famous worldwide for its breathtaking landscapes of green vegetation and limestone mountains; its picturesque villages and its turquoise waters, which will make you think you are in the middle of the Caribbean. This characteristic and impressive color comes mainly from glacial minerals.

1. The best way to get there: excursion to the Gorges du Verdon from Nice.

Verdon Gorge| ©Patrick Nouhailler
Verdon Gorge| ©Patrick Nouhailler

Located in the Natural Park of the Verdon Region, visiting the Gorges from Nice is considered one of the best excursions in Provence.

This is one of the most demanded experiences for tourists visiting the French Riviera, which is why you will find in Nice numerous local companies offering day tours to enjoy the Gorges du Verdon.

In addition to saving planning time, this alternative seems ideal to me due to the many facilities it offers: the presence of an expert guide able to explain to travelers interesting aspects about the area of France you are visiting; private transportation that almost always includes pick-up at your hotel in Nice and, finally, a structured plan focused on knowing the highlights of the area.

What am I going to see on these excursions.

While it is true that the day trip does not allow you to appreciate all the wonders of the Gorges du Verdon, you will find that the local companies in Nice have gone to great lengths to organize a travel itinerary that includes the highlights of the area.

This is a great alternative if you are going, for example, 3 days in Nice and want to take advantage of one of these days to explore Provence.

To make it clearer for you which are the most common stops included, I have made a brief list of them. Of course, depending on the company you choose to hire, certain aspects may be modified.

  • Moustiers-Sainte-Marie Considered the most picturesque village in France since 1981, upon arrival you will find churches and chapels with limestone walls and pastel-colored tiles. If you want to know a bit of the history of the place and its locals, this is a stop you should not ignore.
  • Castellane Located among the Alpes-de-Haute, this is the village where the historic Notre Dame du Roc chapel is located, perched imposingly on a 184-meter-high ravine. In addition, this village serves as the entrance to the famous lavender fields of the northern Gorges de Verdon.
  • Lake Sainte-Croix Many consider it the most beautiful lake in the South of France. This artificial lake was built in the 1970s and contains 761 million cubic meters of water. Its beauty is difficult to explain in words, you simply have to visit it and swim in its waters for a while.

Useful information:

  • Price: The price per traveler can be around 130€ approximately.
  • Duration: Depending on the company you hire and the itinerary, the tour can take from 09 to 12 hours to complete.
  • Recommended if: You are visiting Nice for a short vacation and want to make the most of your stay. I recommend combining this tour with a French Riviera excursion from Nice in order to fully enjoy all the charm and magic of the French Riviera, you will be eager to come back very soon!

Book your excursion to the Gorges du Verdon

2. The most flexible option: Travel by private car from Nice.

Rent a car| ©Dan Gold
Rent a car| ©Dan Gold

The trip from Nice to Gorges de Verdon is much easier than you might imagine. Starting from your location in Nice, you must take the road heading west and continue the road in the direction of Dignes les Bains to Castellane. The journey usually takes approximately 2 hours, 30 minutes to complete.

Traveling by private car from Nice to Verdon can be an excellent plan for all eligible travelers. This method is preferred by local French families who year after year travel from different corners of the country to have a few days of fun in the Gorges du Verdon Natural Park.

How to rent a car in Nice.

If you opt for this option you will probably need to rent a car for you and your companions.

As you will notice once you arrive at your destination, Les Gorges du Vernon are crisscrossed by easily passable roads, so it will be easy to move from one point to another along the route.

Here are some popular alternatives that I recommend you consider for car rental in Nice.

  • Rent A Car: Their offices are located at 23 Av. Jean Moulin.
  • Europcar Nice Cote D'Azur: This rental service is also available at the Nice airport. Their offices are located at Av. Didier Daurat.
  • Alamo Rent A Car: Its offices are located at 34 Av. Auber.

Where to stay in the nearby Gorges du Verdon

If you are traveling on your own by car to the Gorges, the best alternative is to stay overnight. Driving tired and at night to Nice may not be the best option if you don't know the road well.

Fortunately, lodging options abound in the surrounding area and many visitors prefer to stay within the park itself. Here are some alternatives.

  • Hotel and Spa Gorges du Verdon: Directly located on the Route des Crêtes, this is the best located hotel in the area. It also offers the traveler the best views you can imagine and a restaurant of local home cooking rated as one of the best in the area.
  • Grand Canyon Hotel du Verdon: Located in Aiguines, this hotel was built 300 meters above the Gorges. Consequently, you can enjoy views of the canyon gateway and the bay.
  • Auberge du Lac: The perfect alternative for those who want to make the most of the amusements of Lake Sainte Croix. The place offers a wide selection of incredible activities, including kayaking in Sainte-Croix.

Useful information:

  • Price: Renting a mini car in Nice costs around 30€ per day. Fuel costs should also be taken into account.
  • Duration: If you are traveling on your own, I recommend you to reserve at least 2 days of your itinerary, so you can enjoy 100% the place without rushing.
  • Recommended if: You have visited the South of France before and are in some way familiar with it. It is a great alternative if you are traveling with locals who know their way around.

3. The least convenient option: Traveling by bus from Nice.

On the route to the Gorges de Verdon| ©Aquiles
On the route to the Gorges de Verdon| ©Aquiles

Another common mode of transportation that allows you to get to the Gorges de Verdon is through the companies that offer bus transportation services connecting Nice with the surrounding towns.

Many of these buses depart from the airport, as Nice Côte d'Azur International Airport is the most important airport in the region.

Although the bus is a good way to visit other destinations in Nice, for example a trip to St. Tropez, when it comes to the Gorges de Verdon it is a long and complicated trip for which you will have to reserve several days of your itinerary.

Nice - Gorges de Verdon bus route

If you decide to make the trip by bus, this is the route I recommend you follow.

The first step is to arrange your transfer to the airport. In Nice options abound, but the bus that connects the fastest way to the center of Nice and to the airport terminal 1 is the no. 12 Lignes D'azur.

Arriving at the airport terminal, you should take the shuttle to Castellane. Operated by the company Zou! bus line 31 departs twice a day, at 07h and at 14h in the afternoon.

Finally, the bus will take you to Place Marcel Sauvaire, from here the only way to get to Verdon Gorge is by private transport. The cab ride takes 40 minutes to complete. It is best to look for an accommodation option in the village of Castellane.

Useful Information:

  • Price: You will have to take 2 buses for at least 10€ each. However, the last leg by cab can exceed 100€.
  • Duration: The bus ride to the Gorges takes about 4 hours and 30 minutes. You should reserve half a day just for the journey.
  • Recommended yes: This alternative has many disadvantages and very few advantages. It is not an alternative that I recommend to any of my traveler friends.

Tips for the route Gorges du Verdon- Nice

In the Gorges du Verdon| ©Olivier Duquesne
In the Gorges du Verdon| ©Olivier Duquesne

Visiting this idyllic mountain destination will be one of the best experiences of your life. To ensure that your trip lives up to your expectations, pay attention to these simple but practical tips based on experience.

Rent the boats in advance...

On your trip to the Gorges du Verdon you will have the opportunity to rent a boat to navigate the lake or go kayaking. However, unless you are traveling on an organized excursion, advance reservations are mandatory.

Demand is high and if you arrive later than 10 am in the morning, you may not be able to rent boats for that particular day.

Protect yourself from the sun

Sunburn is very common for travelers visiting the area. No matter what time of year you travel, bring sunscreen (which should be applied frequently), sunglasses and your favorite hat or cap.

Bring snacks and drinks for the road...

Before leaving Nice prepare enough snacks and drinks for the whole group. Both the tours and the boat rides tend to make everyone hungry and you may be a long way from a snack stand afterwards.

When to visit the Gorges du Verdon from Nice

Day trip to the Gorges du Verdon| ©Sergei Gussev
Day trip to the Gorges du Verdon| ©Sergei Gussev

The Gorges de Verdon is a living nature destination worth visiting at times when the weather is pleasant enough to be outdoors. As this is the south of France, the specific recommendation is as follows.

The best time to visit Gorges du Verdon is May-June or September-October, just before it gets colder. During these months the weather is extremely pleasant, allowing you to hike and spend hours of fun in nature.

In addition, during these months all activities such as canoeing, swimming and hiking are already available, since the season officially starts in April.

A large number of travelers prefer to visit the Gorges du Verdon in July and August, coinciding with the summer in Nice. This is the peak tourist season and you will also find many activities, but the flow of tourists can be overwhelming and booking activities in advance becomes mandatory to get a place.