Gorges du Verdon

Gorges du Verdon is a balcony road in France

Nicknamed the ‘Grand Canyon of Europe’, Gorges du Verdon is one of the most spectacular sites in the world. Located in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of France, a narrow road was carved out of the cliff high above the green river. It’s one of the most famous French balcony roads.

Can you drive the Gorges du Verdon?

Tucked away in southeastern France, in the heart of Provence, the loop road through the gorges, also known as the Grand Canyon du Verdon, is totally paved running around the rim of the gorge. It’s called D23. It’s qualified as one of the most beautiful roads of Europe. The drive is 22.2 km (13.79 miles) long. Part of it is one-way only.

Is the road through Gorges du Verdon difficult?

It’s a hair-raising drive with a sheer vertical drop of more than 2,300 feet, in many places too narrow for two-way traffic, with craggy rock overhangs, blind curves and hairpin turns, and thrillingly, no guardrail. Locals assure that accidents are rare on this road, but it is not for the faint-hearted. Be warned, though, because this drive is not for the weak-hearted. The guard rails, or guard walls so to say, are only about a foot high and the drops are dizzyingly high. The road features dazzling heights, steep drops, fast and slow curves and viewpoints to impress everyone. So much, that you need to be aware of car drivers focusing more on pointing their cameras out of the window instead of on the road.

How long does it take to drive the Gorges du Verdon?

To drive the road without stopping will take most people between 45 and 60 minutes. If you can, avoid the summer months of late June, July and August when the caravans move like snails in a long queue of vehicles. Generally speaking, it's recommended to set out very early in the morning in summer in order to avoid excessive heat and traffic, and to take the anti-clockwise route if driving on hairpin bends and narrow roads is something that concerns you, as you will be hugging the cliff for much of the route. It’s a journey with wonderful viewpoints and gaping crevices that plunge 700 meters deep. Quite frankly, it's worth every nail-biting moment.

Is Gorges du Verdon worth it?

Nestled within the Verdon Natural Regional Park, the gorges form a border between the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Var. It’s a river canyon that is often considered to be one of Europe's most beautiful. This is a remarkable road trip with frequent parking spots for taking in the views. The drive offers nonstop epic views of the south side of the rift and the blue Verdon river. If you are lucky enough, you can spot the vultures flying high in the skies in this area. Along the road you will pass through, across and, at times, under some towering rock formations. The Verdon takes its name from the green of its water, caused by glacial deposits near its source.

 

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