Maybe it was the gathering gray clouds. Or perhaps it was the road, climbing up to 3,300 feet, rock and scree along the side, with no railing in places between the pavement and a sheer drop hundreds of feet downward toward the Gorges du Verdon below.
Yes, it’s an adrenalin rush. And yes, it’s dramatic. But I’m somewhat hesitant to recommend this drive along the canyon rim. At least, that is, unless you plan to stay awhile, to hike one of the canyon’s rugged trails (one sign suggested leaving seven hours for about 10.5 miles) or to raft through the gorge below.
The Gorges du Verdon surely doesn’t lack for wild beauty. We saw a Griffon Vulture perched on a rock below us. The river is a penetrating green, and it has cut the cliffs in places over the centuries so sharply that it flows 2,000 feet below the canyon rim.
In all, the canyon stretches for about 30 miles and is considered the deepest in Europe.
Still, I guess in the end I prefer to go someplace and explore on foot as we did Fort du Buoux, for example. To me, just driving through falls somewhat short, even with pulloffs at which one can stop to ooo and ahhh. I want to earn my reward, and somehow driving, as exhausting as it can be, doesn’t quite count.
So, yes. Explore this rugged canyon and the miles of specially designated G4 trails in the region around it. But if you drive either the northern rim, as we did, and stop at Point Sublime, or you drive the southern rim and stop elsewhere, don’t try to race up here from more populated Provence in a day. You’ll leave with some pretty impressive pictures. But, if you’re like me, you won’t leave with a real sense of where you’ve been or what it feels like to walk in the wilds here.
In the slow lane, I figure, travel should be more than a postcard snapshot. I left wanting more.