Discover one of the most stunning landscapes in Europe – Gorges du Verdon. Journey through this spectacular canyon and explore its grandeur up close. Provence is hardly a hidden gem but cycling to the Gorges du Verdon is not on the list of most Provence cycling holidays. We think it should be so here’s why…..
Apt to Gorges du Verdon
The cycling which takes you from west to east, and from Apt to Manosque is simply spectacular. As soon as you leave town, you can pick up the old railway line, cycling in complete safety and tranquillity. You can ride for about 10km south before reaching the D48, a stunning road that takes you through lavender fields with the mountains of the Luberon serving as your backdrop. The road is very quiet except for local farm traffic so whilst you always need to be careful, it’s a very quiet stretch of road.
Col du Montfuron to Manosque
Pedal on where you will reach the D900 which is a Provencal main road, but is still quite quiet as you are deep in the countryside. From here, the highlight of the ride is the climb to Col du Montfuron. Obviously it’s no behemoth of a climb but it still takes you 450m above Apt and gives you a great platform to see for miles around. From the windmill at the top of Manosque, Mont Ventoux will be behind you, towering over the Provencal plains, providing a truly incredible sight for any cyclist. The Alps are to the north, Gorge du Verdon to the east and the rich and famous French Riviera to the south. Simply stunning.
Manosque to Gorges du Verdon
The climbing gets tough from here but just when you think France couldn’t get more stunning it does. The ride from Manosque to Aiguines is certainly not easy, covering 1,300m of climbing but that climbing provides unrivalled views along the plateau around Valensole, an absolutely spectacular sight.
After Valensole and past Riez it’s really undulating until you reach the mountains and roll down the most stunning valley and to the famous Gorge to Verdon. Turquoise waters of lake Sainte-Croix spread out in front of you and the dramatic cliffs of the gorge plunge into the still waters below. The gorges is known to travellers as Europe’s Grand Canyon and the spectacular cliff edges and narrow sections really are similar to it’s American big sister.
What to do at Gorges du Verdon
One of the best ways to experience the grandeur of Gorges du Verdon is to paddle along its turquoise waters in a kayak. Whether you are an experienced paddler or a novice, with its gentle waters and stunning views this is an exhilarating experience that everyone should try. With guided tours available for those who don’t feel confident enough alone, you’ll be able to admire the amazing scenery from the point of view of the river and it will provide a nice break from the bike.
Apart from kayaking, Gorges du Verdon is a paradise for the adventurous of all ages. Hike through its trails and admire its wonderful lookout rock spots with breathtaking views of the canyon. With its cliffs full of natural shapes and colours, you’ll feel as if time has stopped while exploring these dramatic landscapes and charming riverbanks. Whether you take them on foot or drive around it, there is plenty to explore in this unique area that Nature gifted to Europe.
Ride to Castellane
The riding close to the Gorges is just stunning and is one stunning view point after another. Follow the road up the the gorge and about half way up the south side, the road dives inland then picks the caynon back up at river level giving stunning views looking up. You eventually reach Castellane which is dominated by a huge rock with a chapel at the top.