I’ve been wanting to visit the Gorges du Verdon for years. Located a couple hours north of the French Riviera and east of the Provence region, the Gorges du Verdon is the perfect add-on to any South of France trip. We visited mid-July and opted to stay nearby in Cotignac, a medieval French town with centuries-old cave buildings and local markets.
The Gorges du Verdon (also known as the ‘Verdon Gorge’ in English) is especially famous for its turquoise color, and it does not disappoint! The bright blue hue comes from glacial minerals, and is so striking in person. It’s best seen from the lookout and on the water. This guide to the Gorges du Verdon covers the best viewpoints, renting a boat, and where to stay to make the most of your trip here.
When to Visit the Gorges du Verdon
Summer — June through August — is the best time to visit. The weather is constantly sunny and the boat rentals will be open. For less crowds, go in shoulder season (May or September). Just be aware that the rentals may be closed.
Where to Stay near the Gorges du Verdon
There are a number of destinations in the South of France that allow for a day trip to the Gorges du Verdon. Most are a couple hours drive away, so you might alternatively prefer to stay in a nearby town for a few days (like we did). Cotignac is the perfect town to stay overnight: it’s walkable and has delicious restaurants, and it’s 35 minutes away by car from the Gorges du Verdon. Here are some other nearby destinations you can day trip from:
- Nice — One of the larger cities in France, Nice is located on the French Riviera. It’s close to smaller, picturesque towns like Menton and Villefrance-Sur-Mer. Around 2 hours, 20 minutes from the Gorges du Verdon. View hotels in Nice.
- Cannes — Made famous by the international film festival, Cannes is known for high-end shopping, architecture, and it’s beautiful location on the French Riviera. Around 2 hours from the Gorges du Verdon. View hotels in Cannes.
- Gordes, Lourmarin & Oppède — this region offers no shortage of picturesque towns to stay in, many of them perched on the surrounding hilltops and with nearby lavender fields. Of the three, my top choice is Lourmarin. I found the town to be the most picturesque and our hotel, Le Galinier de Lourmarin, was my favorite of the trip – so charming and set in beautiful french gardens. All three towns are about 2.5 hours from the Gorges du Verdon, depending on which one you stay in. View hotels in Gordes, Lourmarin, and Oppède.
- Valensole — this region of southern France is home to the most photographed lavender field. The town itself is small. Around 1 hour, 10 minutes from the Gorges du Verdon. View hotels in Valensole.
- Cotignac (pictured below) — the closest town to the Verdon area. Cotignac is a beautiful medieval town with a number of cafés, shops and outdoor markets. It’s around 35 minutes from the Gorges du Verdon. We stayed in this 2 bedroom Airbnb, a couple minutes’ walk from Cotignac’s restaurant area. If you’re new to Airbnb, here is our link for $40 off your first stay. View hotels in Cotignac.
Cotignac, our pick for where to stay near the Gorges du Verdon. View all hotels in Cotignac.
How to get to the Gorges du Verdon Lookout
The most photographed spot at the Gorges du Verdon is from the Pont du Galetas bridge, which overlooks the gorges and all the boats entering the Verdon River. By car, you can easily park at the nearby parking lot and walk onto the bridge to capture a photo of the stunning water and boats below.
You may also want to drive around the Verdon area for other views of the landscape and water. We particularly loved the lookout I marked as ‘High Viewpoint’ in our Google Map below, where these photos are taken from:
Where to Swim at the Gorges du Verdon
While boating, there are a number of small beaches along the river that allow for swimming. You may be told with a motor boat not to dock, so be sure to confirm beforehand that it’s not an issue if you plan to jump in.
Otherwise, there are plenty of beaches in the area to swim. We loved the Plage de Chabassol, nearby the boat rentals but far enough away from the main crowds. Note that the beaches have small rocks and pebbles, not sand.
Renting a Boat at the Gorges du Verdon
There are boat rentals on both sides of the Pont du Galetas bridge, but more options on the right (south) side, as noted in our map below. You can choose to rent a paddleboat, kayak, or motorboat. We visited in the afternoon during peak season in mid-July, and ended up renting a boat from the farthest boat rental from the bridge. The cost for our motorboat was 70 euro for 2 hours. We loved being on the water and easily could’ve spent a few more hours cruising. It’s truly the best way to experience the Gorges du Verdon and surrounding landscapes!
Our Gorges du Verdon Map
Double click below to zoom in and see the spots pictured in this guide. Point A is the famous lookout over the Gorges du Verdon — don’t miss this view, you’ll want a photo here!
- Bring food & drinks beforehand: We brought snacks from the local market in Cotignac, and many people also bring drinks (including beer and wine) to sip while they cruise around.
- Plan in advance for boat rentals: go early in the day. Arriving before 10am will give you a better chance of securing a boat for the day. You can also call ahead to reserve your boat — but you’ll have better luck if you speak some French.
- Wear a hat, sunscreen, etc: summer is typically very hot in this region (think high 90’s Fahrenheit).
One of my favorite parts of the Verdon area was seeing families and locals alike enjoy the water and sunshine. You get the feeling here that many people visit every summer! I hope this guide convinced you to add the Gorges du Verdon region to your itinerary.
If you’re heading to France, don’t miss our Complete Paris Travel Guide.