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Gorges du Verdon

Nicknamed the ‘Grand Canyon of Europe’, the Gorges Du Verdon is one of the most spectacular sites in the world and one of the most famous French balcony roads. Located in south-eastern France, a narrow road was carved out of the cliff high above the green river. It’s a hair-raising drive: 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.

The gorges, also called the Grand Canyon du Verdon, is a river canyon that is often considered to be one of Europe's most beautiful, forming a border between the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Var. It’s Europe’s answer to the Grand Canyon. It’s a spectacular canyon that forms a border between the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Var. Up to 700m deep, the 21-km-long canyon varies in width between 6 and 100 m at the bottom and 200 to 1500m at its rim. It’s qualified as one of the most beautiful roads of Europe. Dazzling heights, steep drops, fast and slow curves and viewpoints 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… 
The road along the gorges is called D23. This road has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. It’s a narrow, twisting road with 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. Be warned, though, because this drive is not for the weak-hearted among us. The guard rails, or guard walls so to say, are only about a foot high and the drops are dizzyingly high.
Along the road you will pass through, across and, at times, under some towering rock formations. There are sheer drops virtually along the entire route and enough hairpins to make a whirling dervish dizzy. The Verdon takes its name from the green of its water, caused by glacial deposits near its source. This loop road is steep and narrow, with vertiginous drops (and often without barriers). Part of it is one-way only. Locals assure us that accidents are rare on this road, but it is not for the faint-hearted.

This road tests the skill, and courage, of any driver. It’s definitely not for anyone suffering from vertigo or a fear of landslides.  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 runs as a single track road along the mountainside for some distance with nowhere to pass another vehicle. Here one says a prayer that nobody is coming towards you until the road widens some kilometres further.
There is little room for error on this road. It's normal for your palms to sweat looking at those photos, imagine what it must have been like before the barriers. The Gorge du Verdon is France's answer to the Grand Canyon. The drive is not for the faint hearted. It’s a journey with wonderful viewpoints and gaping crevices that plunge 700 meters deep. It’s a drive of hairpin bends with the odd stopping place. Quite frankly, it's worth every nail-biting moment. There are not many roads like this in Europe, if you can handle the height and the prospect of a very long freefall this road absolutely has to be on the list of any road connoisseur.
This road is one of the most famous balcony roads in the country. A balcony road is a hair-raising lane cut into the sides of sheer cliffs. It’s a kind of road not for those who fear heights. There is little room for error on these roads. Drive with care as this is a mountain road with hairpin curves and narrow unlit tunnels. When you take this road as picturesque as it is narrow, with its many suprising meanders, drive carefully, and above all don't miss the parking spaces that have been provided.

 

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