Human settlement in Verdon, the history

The Verdon has a long and rich history of human settlement, from prehistoric times to the present day. The oldest traces of human presence in the valley date back over 300,000 years.

Verdon and the history of prehistoric human settlement

The first men

Nomadic hunter-gatherers first occupied the Verdon valley. They lived in caves and rock shelters, and exploited the region’s natural resources, such as fruit, vegetables, wild animals and flint. Settlement took place primarily in the caves of the “Basses Gorges du Verdon“.

The Palaeolithic

The Paleolithic period, from 300,000 to 10,000 BC, was marked by the evolution of hunting and gathering techniques. Paleolithic man invented carved stone tools such as axes, knives and arrowheads. They also discovered fire, which enabled them to heat their homes, cook food and protect themselves from predators.

The Neolithic

The Neolithic period, from 10,000 BC to 3,000 BC, is an important transition in human history. Neolithic man became sedentary, adopting an agricultural and livestock-raising lifestyle. They invented pottery, weaving and the first agricultural machines.

Verdon and the history of human settlement in Antiquity

The Ligurians

The first known inhabitants of the Verdon valley in antiquity were the Ligures, a Celtic people. Ligures lived in fortified villages and exploited the region’s natural resources. They were also skilled craftsmen, specializing in metallurgy and pottery.

Greeks and Romans

In the 6th century BC, the Greeks founded the colony of Marseille. They came into contact with the Ligurians and established trade relations with them. In the 2nd century BC, the Romans conquered the region and incorporated the Verdon valley into the province of Narbonnaise.


The Roman period was one of major transformation for the Verdon valley. The Romans built roads, bridges and aqueducts. They also introduced new agricultural techniques and crops. The Verdon Valley became a prosperous agricultural region.

Prehistory and Antiquity are fundamental periods in the history of human settlement in the Verdon Valley. They saw the evolution of hunting and gathering techniques, the adoption of a farming and stockbreeding lifestyle, and the arrival of the first known peoples in the region.

Middle Ages and Renaissance

The Middle Ages and Renaissance were particularly important periods in the development of the valley, with the emergence of new social, economic and religious structures.

The Middle Ages (5th-15th centuries)

The domination of lords

The Middle Ages were marked by the domination of lords in the Verdon valley. The de Castellane family was the most powerful, controlling much of the region from its stronghold at Castellane. Other lords, such as the Grimaldi and Villeneuve families, also held fiefdoms in the valley.

Social organization

Medieval society in the Verdon valley was hierarchical. At the top were the lords, followed by knights, peasants and serfs. Peasants made up the majority of the population, working the land for the lord. The serfs were tied to the land and had no freedom.

The rise of villages

During the Middle Ages, numerous villages grew up in the Verdon valley. These villages were often built around a fortified castle or a church. Villages enabled inhabitants to protect themselves from attack and enjoy a communal life.


Christianity was the dominant religion in the Verdon valley during the Middle Ages. Numerous churches and monasteries were built during this period, including the Valmogne abbey in Baudinard-sur-verdon. The clergy played an important role in medieval society, both spiritually and temporally.

The Renaissance (15th-16th centuries)

A period of prosperity

The Renaissance was a period of prosperity for the Verdon valley. Agriculture expanded and new industries appeared, such as wool and silk production. The valley also became an important passageway for travelers and merchants.

The Wars of Religion

The end of the 16th century was marked by the Wars of Religion. The Verdon valley was affected by these conflicts, which pitted Catholics against Protestants. Many villages were destroyed and the population decimated.

The Middle Ages and the Renaissance were periods of great transformation for the Verdon Valley. The region experienced economic and demographic growth, as well as the development of social and religious structures. The Renaissance was also a period of artistic and cultural renewal.

Verdon and the history of human settlement in modern and contemporary times

The Verdon valley has a long and rich history of human settlement, which has continued into modern and contemporary times. This period was marked by profound economic, social and political changes, which transformed the lives of the valley’s inhabitants.

Verdon and the history of human settlement in modern times (16th-17th centuries)

The rise of agriculture

In modern times, agriculture remained the main economic activity in the Verdon valley. The main crops were cereals, vines and olives. Sheep and cattle are also raised.

Village development

The villages of the Verdon Valley expanded during this period. New houses and public buildings were built. The valley’s population also increased.

Daily life

Daily life in the Verdon valley was punctuated by agricultural work and religious festivals. Inhabitants lived in modest homes and ate local produce.

Contemporary times (19th-20th centuries)

The French Revolution

The French Revolution overturned the social and political order in the Verdon valley. Lords were dispossessed of their lands and villages became communes.

The rural exodus

The 19th century was marked by a rural exodus. Many inhabitants left the Verdon valley to settle in the towns. The valley’s population declined sharply, reaching its lowest level in the 1950s-1960s.

The development of tourism

The 20th century saw the rebirth of the Verdon Valley. The development of tourism and leisure activities enabled the region to regain its prosperity. The construction of the Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon dam in 1973 created an artificial lake that became a popular holiday destination.

Verdon and the history of human settlement today

A diversified economy

Today, the economy of the Verdon valley is diversified. Tourism is the main activity, but agriculture and crafts are also present.

A dynamic population

The population of the Verdon Valley is growing. Young people are settling in the region to take advantage of its exceptional living environment and start their own families.