The Verdon Gorge
The Lower Verdon Gorges – Quinson
by Judy Churchill
If you haven’t been to the Verdon Gorge then you really haven’t lived. Along with the valley of the marvels, it should be high up on your bucket list of places to see and visit.
It is a true hikers’ paradise and although not exactly on Monaco’s doorstep, it’s only a couple of hours drive away.
I highly recommend making a weekend of it and staying in one of the lovely hotels dotted around the area (the village of Tourtour is one of my favourite places to stay). That way you can do a couple of hikes and have time to visit the beautiful towns such as Moustiers Sainte Marie and in the early summer, take in the spectacular lavender fields along the corniche.
The Verdon Gorge is one of Europe’s most spectacular and beautiful canyons. The name Verdon comes from the turquoise colour of the Verdon river which flows along the 25 km of the gorge. The water is so striking that you can’t take your eyes off it once you catch sight of the first lake and hence swimming and pedal boating, canoeing and kayaking have become very popular sports there. This is the deepest gorge in France and a true natural wonder.
You can reach the Verdon Gorge via the A8 motorway exiting at Le Muy and then follow your satnav to wherever you are staying or hiking from.
There are so many hikes in the gorge and all of the varying levels, that it’s best to start with one that’s not too demanding until you get a feel for the area and can gauge how much you want to challenge yourself. With this in mind, I’m taking you on an average level but the picturesque hike in the Lower Verdun Gorges starting from Quinson. The hike lasts approx. 3 hours with a total distance of 8.33km. There is a vertical gain of 269m and the highest point is at 547m.
The directions for this hike are explained very well on both the Visorando website and the app in English; you can find it on this link https://www.hikideas.com/walk-the-verdon-s-basses-gorges/ . If you are using the app you can follow the satnav link all the way around and there is a free trial period for this function.
Walks in the Verdon can be enjoyed all year round and after your first visit, you will want to return to this turquoise paradise again and again.
When walking, I advise taking hiking sticks, as they will help you on both the ascents and the way down. They also guarantee you get a full body work out. You’ll need a cap (mine is currently a golf cap by Bogner from One Eagle boutique in Monaco). The golf caps have wide brims which protect your face really well. Always take sunglasses (mine are Oakley also from One Eagle Monaco) to keep the sun off your face (the sun is a lot stronger in the mountains, so don’t forget the sunscreen). Remember to take more water than you think you’ll need (at least a litre and a half per person) and enough protein bars for during and after the hike. I always have a high fibre, high protein breakfast before I set off which means that I don’t need to carry a large picnic with me as good protein bars are sufficient (always take a couple of extra ones). Purpose-made hiking boots/shoes and a rucksack are a must and you will need lighter wear for the Spring/Summer season and heavier/warmer for Autumn and Winter. I have a Bogner zip-up, long-sleeved golfing top from One Eagle Monaco which not only enables a full range of movement but is also great for cooler Spring walks as it keeps you at the perfect body temperature. Last but not least, you will need the IGN n° 3443 OT map (AUPS/SALERNES) to mark out your trail before you set off. As mentioned above, don’t forget the hike specific apps such as Visorando, which have both free and purchasable versions and can be very useful guides and even have GPS options https://www.visorando.comhttps://www.visorando.comwhic.
If you have Strava on your phone, you can record your walk on this app and it will give you lots of fascinating statistics at the end as well as totalling up the number of km you do in any given year.
When you’re done, I heartily recommend a foot massage using Young Living Essential Foot Oil (a mix of Rosemary, Peppermint and Lavender) – your feet will thank you later!
Enjoy your hike and don’t forget your camera!
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