Gorges du Verdon

Verdon Gorge, France

The winding road to Gorges du Verdon (Europe’s Grand Canyon) is a bit of a white-knuckle ride. If you want to take in the views, it’s best to pull over at Point Sublime (the right bank after La Palud on the D952), where a gigantic cliff of calcareous rock plunges 2,834 feet to the bottom of the gorge. Once you reach Gorges du Verdon, there are hikes for every athletic ability, but the 8.6-mile Blanc Martel circuit, which takes you to the heart of the canyon, is legendary. Just note that it can take between five and nine hours depending on your skill level, so be prepared with water, sunscreen, hiking shoes, a hat, and an extra pair of socks for the puddles in the two tunnels near the end. If you prefer the water, head to the emerald-green Lake of St. Croix, where you can rent a stand-up paddleboard, canoe, or kayak, or simply spend the day swimming and sunning. No matter how you spend your time at Gorges du Verdon, remember to bring a bag for garbage and leave nothing but footprints.

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