Excursion 8: Valensol, Moustiers-St. Marie and Grand Canyon de Verdon - Excursion by car with a 2 hours walk down into the largest Canyon in Europe.

It is 1.5 hours' drive to the small town of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, just west of Valensole (see Excursion 7) or a slightly faster drive through Greoux-les-Bains (exit 17 on the motorway), a really big town when it comes to Thermal spas. Take your morning coffee in Moustiers and walk around in this little touristy town between the rocks. Just a few minutes drive further along the main road (D 957), the river Verdon flows into the great lake Lac de Sainte-Croix, which is great for swimming, kayaking etc.

Grand Canyon du Verdon, Europe's largest canyon as far as I know, start here by the bridge over the river Verdon. To get an idea of the size of this Canyon, take the road to Aiguines (D19) and continue on road D71 along the south side of the canyon. It takes time, especially in July/August, due to traffic, but there are great views from this road. And you don't have to drive far before turning back.

If you have time to see the Canyon from below, the easiest option is to drive on to what is called Cavaliers (also a restaurant). On the local map for Gorges du Verdon (3442 OT), you can see that the GR 99 trail crosses the road D71 approx. 500 meters before a car park. Here is the restaurant des Cavaliers. It is very steep down into the Canyon. You will need a minimum of good running shoes. You have to reckon with at least 1.5 hours up and down. There are nice places to swim near the point you descend to in the Canyon. 

In order to vary the return trip to Cucuron, you could drive down to Aups and drive westwards from here, over Regusse, Montmeyan, la Values, Ginasservis, Vinon, St-Paul, Mirabeau and Pertuis (no motorway). This rout is also normally a little faster than the route you came on this morning because of the traffic through towns like Moustiers and Greoux-les-Bains in the afternoons.


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