Provence is a wonderful region in the Southeast of France. Known for its warm weather, Marseille and its lovely harbour, the turquoise water of the Mediterranean Sea, great food, lavender fields, olive oil and cute towns. It is also very famous for the Gorges du Verdon, a river canyon that is said to be one of the biggest and most beautiful canyons in Europe.
A lot of people come each year to visit the Gorges, that offer a huge variety of activities: kayaking from one of the nearby lakes, climbing on top of the canyon or hiking to see gorgeous views of the surrounding nature.
Last time I visited I went kayaking and absolutely adored it, but this time I wanted to see the Gorges from above, so I hopped on my car and drove towards a town called Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, my first stop.
Built on the side of a cliff, this lovely town is famous for its proximity with the Gorges du Verdon, but also for pottery, especially faience. Another characteristic of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is the golden star that hangs above the town, suspended between two cliffs. A lot of different legends surround this mysterious star, and no one really knows for sure why, but it has been there for centuries now.
On a nice day it is really nice to wander a bit around the town, venture in every narrow, cobbled street, and maybe up to see the chapel that offers a gorgeous view of the town and surrounding countryside. There are plenty of cute shops and restaurants, and the small river and waterfall that flow in the town, along with the sound of cicadas give it a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere, perfect for a warm summer day.
I had a short walk around, took pictures and admired the views. Right before I took the small road that leads to the town, there was also a big lavender field. As I didn’t have a lot of time that afternoon, I didn’t stop for a snack and after my short visit of the town I headed back to the car in order to reach my actual destination.
The Ridge Road or Route des Crêtes:
This is a 23-km panoramic road that allows you to really see the canyon, slowly carved into the rocks by the river Verdon, forming majestic cliffs and truly breathtaking views. It is located on the right bank of the river and starts from a town called La Palud.
Before reaching that town, the road from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie runs in front of the Sainte-Croix Lake and its turquoise water, amazing cliffs and mountains.
Once you reach the Ridge Road, different viewpoints, clearly marked by signs and parking spots, allow you to admire the amazing landscape and nature without risking your life for a cool picture. So, once I parked my car, I would go out, cross the road and take it all in. The great thing is that each viewpoint is different in its own way, so every time you visit one, you want to see what the next one has to offer.
At the viewpoints, you really are on top of the cliffs, and the heights are unbelievable. On some points you can see the river Verdon deep down into the canyon with its almost green colour. Sometimes you can also see vultures flying around in the canyon, and with the surrounding silence, it almost feels like you’re in a movie.
It’s really hard to precisely describe the feeling that you get when you’re there, but it is an itinerary I would 100% recommend to anyone visiting the South of France. I also feel like there aren’t as many tourists as other places, though Moustiers-Sainte-Marie does have some tourist coaches parked at its entrance. A trip there can also start – or end – with a nice swim in the lake, lavender-field photoshoot or sunset on top of the cliffs!
Have you ever been to the South of France?
Other posts about the South of France:
– Local Adventure #1: Visiting Manosque
– A Day in Avignon
– Local Adventure #3: Lavender & Sunflower fields
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