Gorge du Verdon and Other Canyons

We decided it was time to finally check out what everyone had been telling us, or what we’d been reading about, the Gorge du Verdon. And as it was late October and all the leaves would be turning color, we rented a care for the weekend ad made a reservation at a small chalet nearby. We left Nice on the A8 and got off at the Grasse exit and started heading northwest on D6185. This took us through Grasse and onto the “Route du Napoleon” on D6185, which was a scenic drive that climbed up to the small village of Castellane and one of the entries to the Verdon Gorge. Before heading in, however we had lunch in the village (not bad, Coq au Vin and a terrine).

Gorge du Verdon
Gorge du Verdon

Afterwards we entered the Gorge on D952, which was the beginning of an amazing scenic tour of a windy road with plenty of panoramic viewpoints while the colors of the hills were amazing as the leaves were turning yellow, orange and red. We exited the Gorge at Moustiers, which is one of the loveliest little villages we’ve been to and wished we’d decided to overnight here rather than back near Castellane. Next time. A stream runs through the middle of this hillside village with the homes, shops and restaurants hugging its banks. You can climb up to the church on the cliff above (15 minutes) or make a one-hour hike up and around the village. We didn’t but if I’d had the time, I would’ve. Next time.  We headed back and found our chalet accommodations (nothing really worth mentioning by name  but it was lakefront). The next day I blew up my inflatable paddle board and enjoyed a couple tours of Lake Castellane. We headed back to Nice via N202, north of Castellane and this turned out to be a great choice; we probably should’ve come this way. On a hunch, we decided to make a detour on D902 as it went through Valberg as we wanted to check it out for the next ski season. Well, this took us through the Dalius Gorge, which was simply amazing. We actually enjoyed it more than the Verdon. So many tunnels and narrow roads along steep cliffsides (if you have a thing about heights, this may not be for you). What an amazing project of road construction this was. We made it to Guillaumes, did a quick visit but decided we’d rather do lunch in Valberg on D28. Then began an amazing climb all the way up to Valberg, and wow, what a road.

Valberg was nice but we didn’t see anything particularly interesting for lunch, and as we were still a little full from breakfast we decided to keep going, heading south again on D28 and entering a third gorge, and another spectacular one, the Gorge du Cians. This was even more impressive than Daluis. The gorge is so narrow, barely enough room for the road, sometimes just enough, it seems, for one lane with rocks hanging over the road and numerous tunnels. Rich red slate rock covers the mountainside creating a very impressive and colorful backdrop with the Cians river running through. I really wanted to turn around and drive it again, but we were hungry by this stage.

As you exit the gorge and meet up with D6202, there’s a restaurant on the left just as you get onto the highway called Le Mirapel. Lovely terrace and great homemade cuisine by a husband and wife team. We had wild boar with gnocchi and a eggplant terrine with mozzarella and red peppers along with a pichet of the local red – (also wonderful). Dessert was a plum crumble with vanilla ice cream. Just lovely.

The ride back along D6202 was also very nice, but hard to match what we had just gone through. We both agreed it was the best drive we’ve ever done, and we’ve done a lot of them. Came back home and tried to find more information about these two gorges but came up empty. Plenty of pictures but little about the gorges themselves. We are already to go back and scout them out a little more, to see if there are trails and access to the lower part of the gorge. Will let you know…

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