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24 September 2015 / leggypeggy

Paddling through the Verdon Gorge

Lac de Montmeyan Quinson

Lac de Montmeyan Quinson with Pont (bridge) de Quinson on the far left. We paddled under the bridge to enter the gorge

kayak on Lac de Montmeyan Quinson

Libby and Daniel setting out on Lac de Montmeyan Quinson. This lake is very shallow so gives you a false sense of security for the deep gorge

Guess I’ll need to call this my sporting holiday—so far we’ve bicycled more than 250 kilometres, walked many kilometres day after day, climbed hundreds of stairs and hillsides, and now paddled for half a day in kayaks. Puff, puff, puff!

Daniel, our son-in-law, has been keen to visit Les Gorges du Verdon, also known as the Grand Canyon du Verdon, ever since he bicycled in the area about eight years ago.

Given that we’re spending a week in the southeast of France, not far from the French Riviera, a trip to the nearby Verdon River shot to the top of our to-do list.

Daniel tracked down a likely place to hire kayaks and off we went. There were options to hire for one hour, two hours, half a day or a full day. We arrived late morning, so a half day was the best option—although a couple of hours later I might have settled for the one or two-hour option.

Walkways on Les Gorges du Verdon

Plenty of walkways have been added for hikers

The gorge is spectacular and considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful. It wasn’t known outside France until 1906. The gorge is 25 kilometres long and 250 to 700 metres deep. Glad I didn’t know that until after I returned to shore.

In addition to kayaks, visitors can hire canoes, pedal boats and electric boats, Plus there are many hiking trails (we saw many groups of walkers), as well as more than 1500 rock climbing routes. In addition to the sports available where we were, there’s rafting, paragliding, fishing and canyoning.

Colour in Les Gorges du Verdon

The gorge’s strong blue–green colour comes through

The gorge is named after the Verdon River, which in turn is named after the blue–green colour of the water. The colour is said to be caused by glacial sources and minerals of rock flour suspended in the water.

Five dams were erected along the river between 1929 and 1975, and these help to provide hydro-electricity.

We started from Lac (lake) de Montmeyan Quinson and were aiming to cover the 9 kilometres to Lac d’Esparron, but really needed a whole day to cover that distance and return. I’m guessing we got about halfway before we stopped for our lunch of homemade sandwiches, and then headed back.

Grotte de Gaspard de Besse

The Grotte de Gaspard de Besse from a distance

Closer to Grotte de Gaspard de Besse

Up close the wall of the cave is easier to see

Some of the sights we saw, besides the great scenery, were the Pont (bridge) de Quinson and three caves—the Grotte de Gaspard de Besse (also called Grotte Murée or the Walled Cave), the Grotte Sainte Maxime (no photo) and the Grotte de la carte au trésor.

Gaspard de Besse was a notorious robber, who was loved by some because he gave to the poor. It earned him the nickname of ‘Robin Hood of Provence’. He did operate throughout the region, including in the gorges, so it’s likely he used the cave (grotte) that bears his name. He was executed at age 24 after being accused by foreigners he robbed. The locals were not pleased.

According to legend, Gaspard’s most daring caper happened during a festival at Castle Fontblanche. Dressed and introduced as a gentleman, he charmed the nobles and wealthy guests while robbing them of their valuables.

Grotte de la carte au trésor

The grotte de la carte au trésor. Note the blue–green water

Kayaking on Les Gorges du Verdon

Setting out on Les Gorges du Verdon

33 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. GP Cox / Sep 24 2015 3:58 am

    Simply beautiful!

    Like

  2. MyMemoirs / Sep 24 2015 4:44 am

    oh. omg this a LOVELY WEBSITE =) I love the pictures!

    Like

  3. Dora Buonfino / Sep 24 2015 5:17 am

    Il tuo blog mi piace molto. Mi piacciono sia le foto che gli articoli! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Midwestern Plant Girl / Sep 24 2015 5:44 am

    Kayaking would be on my to do list here, very beautiful! The grottos and green/blue water really gives this a neat look.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Unconfirmed Bachelorette / Sep 24 2015 6:44 am

    Beautiful images! Interesting about the French Robin Hood.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 24 2015 4:05 pm

      I thought so too. And I’d never heard of him before.

      Like

  6. Yvonne / Sep 24 2015 5:08 pm

    What a splendid adventure you’ve had. You must be fit as a fiddle! (Hmm, why is a fiddle fit?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 24 2015 5:29 pm

      Good question. And the best thing about all the exercise is that I don’t think I’ve gained weight. Egads, I hope I haven’t gained weight.

      Like

  7. afterthelasttime / Sep 25 2015 12:29 am

    Beautiful, Peggy! Keep up your fun adventures pedaling & paddling your way about!
    I know it’s far away but this would be a great week to visit the Vatican as Pope Francis is out of town so i suspect the crowds are lighter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2015 2:43 am

      Great suggestion, but we already have the rest of our time planned.

      Like

  8. Andrew Pattie / Sep 25 2015 2:11 am

    Wonderful pictures! Weren’t you worried about the water and your camera?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2015 2:27 am

      Good point Andrew. I always carry a dry sac that the camera fits into, and I only take the camera out to take a pic.

      Like

  9. hennesthecook / Sep 27 2015 11:05 pm

    I loVe this pic 😊lg🐘

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Curious to the Max / Sep 28 2015 8:43 am

    Spectacular!! I’m catching up on all your blog posts so I’m huffing and puffing as if I were paddling with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 28 2015 4:41 pm

      At least someone is huffing and puffin besides me. 🙂

      Like

  11. dmill96 / Oct 4 2015 9:34 am

    Haven’t had the opportunity to check our your posts recently, but thanks for the great views and virtual visit. It’s fantastic you get to get so much out of travel, I’m green with envy. But if I can’t go myself then at least I’m glad someone else is and shares it with me.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Oct 4 2015 5:37 pm

      I’m glad to be your scout. And I appreciate the virtual company.

      Like

  12. vladmazek / Jun 13 2016 6:23 am

    I was curious if you remember where you rented the kayak – even general area/town along the way. I’m heading up there on vacation in two weeks and am finding all sorts of extreme kayaking stuff in Verdon Gorge, nothing quite as pleasant as what is in your pictures 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 13 2016 8:38 am

      We hired the kayaks at the edge of Lac de Montmeyan Quinson. A few days later, we hired paddle boats in another part of the gorge. I think once you’re there, you’ll see places advertised—and not just for extreme sports. Good luck.

      Like

  13. sipofwellness / Aug 17 2017 7:14 am

    Good article .. amazing … so nice

    Liked by 1 person

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