Martel expedition 1905 in the Grand Canyon du Verdon

The Martel expedition was led by the French speleologist Édouard-Alfred Martel (1859-1938). He went to Haute Provence in 1905. Sent by the Ministry of Agriculture, he came to study the resurgence of Fontaine l’Evêque (today drowned in the lake of Sainte-Croix). He then turned away by the Grand Canyon du Verdon, in particular by Rougon where a team went up to explore the Grand Canyon. It is Isidore Blanc, guide of the expedition and teacher who brings together a team of villagers. The Martel expedition was launched on August 11, 1905.


Martel expedition day 1

The whole team starts from Rougon to reach the Samson corridor. They embark men and equipment on three frail canvas and wood skiffs. After a first day of laborious navigation, they set up camp at La Baume aux Pigeons. Barely 2 kilometers traveled.


Martel expedition day 2

A boat is destroyed and progress is then made by the shore. They arrive at the beginning of the afternoon at Estellier. At nightfall, they enter the corridor of the Styx, a second boat shatters sending men and equipment into the river. They then set up camp on the Imbut beach. Martel at the end of his strength then wishes to abandon the adventure. It is encouraged by the rest of the team that he manages to regain his motivation. It must be said that this represents a very big day. Going from Stix to Imbut during the night to finish off the most seasoned.

Martel expedition day 3

Not venturing inside the Imbut, the expedition must go around it through the chaos of the same name. Getting these cumbersome boats over the huge blocks forming chaos must have been a heavy task and particularly time-consuming. The camp is established at the end of the day in Les Cavalets.


Day 4

The progression is very slow, chaos of rocks, multiple logs brought by the floods obstruct the passage. Arrived at Pas de Mayreste some men exhausted to the nerves decide to give up. It wasn’t until the end of the day that the rest of the team arrived at Pas du Galetas. Martel who was then part of it, near the Roman bridge of Aiguines (today drowned in the waters of Lake Sainte Croix) the first successful expedition of the Gorges du Verdon.

It was not until 1928 to see Robert de Joly cross the rooms of the Imbut for the first time.


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With the PoteSport app, finish the sport on your own!

We are already in October, the season is over and the equipment put away until spring 2021 .. It is high time to take over the Verdon Xp blog! What are you going to do now that there is no more rafting in the Verdon? Well you will find friends to play sports without us! And how? With PoteSport app !


The Potesport app

How it works? Do you have to fill out a form? put an ad in the newspaper? Not at all! We are in 2021, use your smartphone! Indeed, PoteSport has developed an application to meet other athletes and share with them. Wherever you are and whatever your level, you will quickly find one or more partners to have fun in your favorite sports.

First of all, PoteSport is an application that you download for free! it helps .. Ultra simple ergonomics. Even those who do not understand it will not need a manual. On weekend vacation or even unemployed, you can meet sports partners and make new discoveries all over France.


Description of the Potesport app

Equipped with a chat device, the application allows you to chat live and quickly organize a next training session. Easy! It’s not over! the PoteSport application also allows geolocation. Indeed, it will be pointless to find partners at the other end of France, the application does it for you. In the notification period, PoteSport keeps you informed of everything that is happening around you at the speed of light, a plus! And then there is also a personal and discreet messaging if you have more things to say to you. PoteSport, the Swiss army knife of applications for sports lovers! And it’s freeeee!


In complete safety

Finally, it is important to note that all your personal data is secured and stored in France by the service provider OVH. None of this data will be used for commercial purposes and outside the PoteSport application.

On your sneakers!


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Aqua Trekking – XXL – Verdon Gorges – 2 Days

The Big Must of Verdon! Reserved for the most athletic athletes. An XXL Aqua Trekking in the Gorges du Verdon. Swim in the wildest Grand Canyon du Verdon. Over two days which will take you from the Estellier to the Col de l’Olivier. Following on from the Aquatic Day Hike. After the passage of the Imbut, you will discover the very mysterious Verdon Secret!

Detailed description of the XXL Aqua Trekking

Day 1; We meet at La Colle de l’Olivier on the S952. After trying the equipment, we take the vehicles back to the Chalet de la Maline on the dizzying Route des Crêtes from La Pallud-sur-Verdon. 1 hour walk is necessary to reach the edge of the Verdon. Once equipped at the water’s edge, there are magnificent passages, from the Pont de l’Estellier to the Imbut. Almost 4 hours spent in the water and then 1 hour 30 minutes of walking up. We take the time during the day to enjoy a meal (at the expense of each). Shipped in a waterproof container loaned by Verdon Xp.

Day 2; 1h30 walk then we go into the water at the Imbut. Then, we explore the most secret part of the Grand Canyon. No access path possible since the two cliffs fall directly into the Verdon. We end at the Col de l’Olivier.


Night and meal

The main idea was to bivouac in the canyon, at the edge of the water, like real adventurers. Only here, everywhere inside the PNRV, it is forbidden to bivouac in the gorges and at the edge of the lakes. It is therefore imperative to leave the canyon at the end of the first day. To return there on the morning of the second day.

3 solutions proposed for accommodation (evening meal + night + breakfast + picnic the next day) – Not included in the service, to be paid directly;
-Hotel du Grand Canyon from 165 € for 2 people
-Chalet de la Maline from € 60 per person
-The client has their own solution

Prerequisites for the XXL Aqua Trekking

Be in excellent physical shape and very comfortable in the water. Swim shorts + Light T-shirt + Mid-mountain shoes in good condition + 1 bottle of water per person + picnic of day 1.

Tariff and Reservation

For further information on the XXL Aqua Trekking course, go directly to THE Aqua Trekking PAGE on our site.

Verdon and its marvelous lavender landscapes

The Verdon is surrounded by lavender landscapes. It has existed for more than 2000 years on the shores of the Mediterranean. In France, it is cultivated only in the south-east. In the three departments of the Alpes de Haute Provence, the Drôme and the Vaucluse. It normally flowers from mid-June to mid-July on the Valensole plateau but can last until mid-August in the Dignois and Haut-Verdon regions.



It was already praised for its medicinal properties in Antiquity. Lavender essence was also used to maintain the body. His first name; “Lavandula” is then synonymous with body care and cleansing. This plant which particularly appeals to the aristocracy will gradually become popular thanks to cosmetics. It distilled in quantity from the 16th century and gave birth to luxury perfumery from the 19th century.


Lavender and lavandin

“True” or “fine” lavender is more noble than lavandin. It grows between 500 and 1000 meters above sea level and has a long branch with a single flower spike. The fine lavender essential oil from Haute Provence has been classified AOC since 1981.

Lavandin is a hybrid of fine lavender and aspic lavender. The result is a branched branch with three ears larger than fine lavender. Lavandin therefore has a higher yield but has a lighter fragrance than fine lavender. It is harvested every year from the second half of July. A more productive process that allowed the era to meet the high demand from perfumers in Grasse.


Lavender landscape; The Valensole plateau and its blue golden sea

The clay-limestone plateau of Valensole is an ideal place for the cultivation of lavender. It also combines other advantages such as altitude and climate. The Valensole plateau is considered to be the largest lavandin production center in France. Come admire these expanses of lavender which undulate like little oceans. Local bees gather mainly blue flowers and thus make lavender honey. A product widely used on the shelf.


lavender landscapes gave rise to lavender festivals. They have sometimes existed for several centuries. This is where all the players in the lavender world met once a year. These festivals therefore had as much an economic as a social interest. They still exist today, not to be missed if you are in the region. Old stills, essential oils, honey … the world of lavender is yours!

The Lavender Corso in Digne. A party that lasts 5 days and has existed since 1939.

Lavender festival in Barême at the end of July

The lavender fair at the end of August in Digne


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Saint Maurin, the regional nature reserve

The regional natural reserve of Saint Maurin

The reserve measures over 25 hectares. It overlooks the right bank of the Verdon, just a few kilometers from the second largest artificial lake in France; Sainte Croix. A site formed on the slopes of several terraces of natural meadows and tuff deposits. Finally, many resurgences emerge from the cliff in spring or in rainy weather. From departmental 952, you can see an imposing fall. You will find there ready the only place for automobile, such as a garage cut in the rock. Another solution is to park your vehicle at the Col de l’Olivier. Then come on foot via the fishermen’s path.


The Riches of Saint Maurin

Geological riches (tuffs, resurgences …), flora (priority habitats of community interest) but also fauna (insect, avifauna, bat), allow an interesting educational approach both overhanging and below the road. Water, plants and animals; A perfect ecosystem for humans. With its dominant position, the site also presents an important defensive asset.


A centuries-old human settlement

In the middle of the Gorges du Verdon, Saint Maurin offers a refreshing and welcoming atmosphere where people came to settle a long time ago. Indeed, the occupation of these places could date back to the 5th century with a religious installation based at the Abbey of LERINS. Later, Saint Maurin appears in the 9th century in acts of the Abbey of St VICTOR. Finally, the troglodyte arrangements of several caves are still visible. They confirm the use of this site until recent times and participate in the magic already present.


Visit The Saint Maurin reserve

Being accompanied by a professional will help you appreciate the riches of this very secret site.
The guides or guides in the middle mountains who operate on the site are approved by the Maison des Gorges du Verdon. Also, they must be declared to the PNRV.
Since October 2009, the Saint Maurin site has been classified as a Regional Nature Reserve and co-managed by the municipality of La Palud sur Verdon and the C.E.E.P (Conservatoire, Etudes des Ecosystèmes de Provence)
Access to the public is free but regulated: Pedestrian traffic is only authorized on marked trails, picking, swimming, bivouac and fire are strictly prohibited.





Rougon village and Isidore Blanc, the stage manager

The village of Rougon, perched on its rocky outcrop, was the place where Isidore Blanc taught at the beginning of the 20th century.

Rougon Village

Coming from Castellane, the village of Rougon is located about ten kilometers before La Pallud, on the D952. An Eagle’s nest perched at an altitude of 930 m. Allow approximately 5 km to drive above Point Sublime, the majestic gate of the Grand Canyon. Be careful, some portions do not allow two vehicles to pass each other.

Rougon heritage

The village appears in a writing in 814. However, the stone remains which dominate the village attest to the human presence for several centuries before. Even millennia.

Today, Rougon is no longer a passage, the road that leads there is no way out. Formerly, a Roman road relayed Moustiers-Sainte-Marie to Castellane via Chasteuil. Indeed, the Romans preferred to build in height, which gave more safety to the users.

The castle spur, a listed site, dominates the village. No one can say if a castle was ever built there. Maybe just a watchtower. A legend tells that a lord of Rougon undertook work to actually build a castle there. With each progress of the work, lightning invited itself, wiping out the last walls. The work was finally abandoned.

The St Christophe chapel which is located at the entrance of the village was restored with great taste and attention in 2010. This chapel, whose origins date back to the 12th-13th century, was already rebuilt between the 16th and 17th centuries.

Rougon population

Some 110 inhabitants currently populate the village. A population which never exceeded 600 souls even in the golden age of the village, in the middle of the 18th century. The rural exoduses which occurred after each world war were fateful in the village. Indeed, the population went from 331 inhabitants in 1906 to 180 inhabitants came years later. Then from 93 inhabitants in 1946 to 41 inhabitants in 1968. The population emigrated mainly to the cities of Provence (Nice, Cannes, Fréjus, Toulon, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence …) to find a better life. Thus many Provencal descendants of Rougonais today populate the remains of their ancestors during the summer period and weekends.

Rougon shops

There is a crêperie-stopover; The Bee Wall which offers a magnificent view from its terrace. There is also a grocery store-bar-restaurant; La Terrasse at the entrance to the village is open all year round. From this small square where you can also play pétanque, you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Samson Corridor. As for the town hall, it also acts as a Post Office. Stroll through the alleys of the village, you will meet the resident artists. Sculptors, potters and painters.


Isidore Blanc

“The manager of the Gorges” as he liked to call himself. A teacher in Rougon in the 1900s, this man was one of the first explorers of the Gorges. Martel having heard of him, invited him to go and see to organize the famous 1905 expedition which crossed the whole of the Gorges. Later, he was appointed official delegate of the Touring Club de France and participated very actively in the tourism development of the Verdon. For example, we owe him the first arrangements such as that of point Sublime as we still know it today. He also worked a lot at the opening of the Blanc-Martel road which runs the 15 km of canyon that connects Point-Sublime to the Maline chalet.

The Touring Club de France was the main financier of tourism development in the Verdon in the years 1920-1930. A plaque affixed by the TCF at the end of the Baou footbridge down to the Samson corridor pays homage to Isidore Blanc. A man in multiple hats who died in a sidecar accident in 1933, on his birthday.

The redevelopment of Point-Sublime will be completed in 2021. Visitors will be able to discover in the reception area, a permanent exhibition on the manager of the Gorges. Isidore Blanc will remain the key and emblematic character of the village for a long time to come.

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Days of rafting and water levels on the Verdon

Rafting days and water levels on the verdon? You mean there are days for rafting and days without rafting on the Verdon? Is the river closed or is it? No, the flow is regulated by a dam.

Operation of the dam outside July-August

It is the Chaudanne dam which has this role, it regulates the flow from the Verdon from Castellane to Lake Sainte Croix. In the spring, EDF provides us with its information on water flows the day before for the next day. Saturday-Sunday in May and June are not normally turbined (dam closed). Indeed, this measure serves to secure the most abundant attendance of weekends. Over this period, you will therefore need to be patient. During the week, the next day’s activity cannot be confirmed until the evening before. For fans of rafting and canoeing, it is always possible to go sailing on Haut Verdon for an additional hour’s drive from Castellane.

Operation of the dam in July-August

In summer, this is somewhat different … Indeed, EDF assures us two days of releases per week in the months of July and August, which lets a little see coming … These days are Tuesday and Friday for rafting and canoeing. The remaining five days are open to the Aqua Treking activity, day and half day.

Now, from year to year, there can be big changes as evidenced by an article published this fall on the blog. Indeed, the accumulated snow reserves during the winter play an extremely important role. In fact, with a lot of snow, there is more days of water in summer. Heavy snowfall and cool weather in the spring play a large part in increasing the number of turbined days in summer.

Reserved flow

The days of “closure” correspond to what is called the “reserved debit”. In fact, EDF ensures the survival of the river by maintaining a minimum flow on closing days. The reserved flow is 3 cubic meters seconds all year round but increases to 1.5 cubic meters seconds from June 15 to September 1.

So, “Rafting days and water levels on the verdon” have no more secrets for you.
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Regional Natural Park of Verdon, the Guardian of the Temple

Regional Natural Park of Verdon

Created on March 3, 1997. Like any Regional Natural Park, it ensures that the economic development of its territory is harmonized with the conservation and enhancement of its natural heritage. Thus, they differ from the National Natural Parks which are territories protected from human activity.

In addition, surrounded by culminating landscapes at an altitude of more than 1,800 meters, the Parc du Verdon was created around the watershed of the river: the Verdon. It includes 7 landscapes; The Valensole plateau, Artuby, Lakes and Mountains, Lake of Sainte Croix, The Gorges of Verdon, The Low Gorges of Verdon and The hills of Haut Var.

Finally, in addition to the 46 member municipalities, the departmental councils of Hautes Alpes and Var. As well as the regional council of Provence Alpes Cotes d’Azur. Together, they constitute the Joint Syndicate. Each participant of the Joint Syndicate is represented by a delegate who sits on the Syndical Committee. It is the decision-making body of the Park. To put its decisions into action, the Parc du Verdon knew how to equip itself with a team. It is made up of thirty-eight agents with multiple and varied skills.

The Park Charter

The Verdon Regional Natural Park is based on a charter formalizing its project and defining its main directions. It is structured in 4 varied chapters;

-Transmission of heritage – The man at the heart of the project – Sustainable development of resources – Experimentation with new relationships between municipalities

The Park and Tourism

The economy of the region evolving towards an increasingly dominant tourist activity, the Verdon Regional Natural Park also relies on professional guides from Verdon to inform their large clientele about the fragility of the natural heritage discovered during whitewater activities for example.
Regional Natural Park of Verdon welcomes you to the Park House;

Domaine de Valx in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.
Monday to Friday, 9 am to 12:30 pm and 2 pm to 5:30 pm
Such. : 04 92 74 68 00 | Fax: 04 92 74 68 01


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Sirenians of the Col des Leques, 40 millions years ago

The Sirenians

The Sirenians of the Col des Lèques existed 40 million years ago. You have probably had the pleasure to read our previous article. So you certainly know the pass that leads to Castellane from Dignes; the Col des Lèques. Just after the camping des Sirènes on the right (coming from Castellane), you will find a parking lot. Leave your vehicle there, here begins the path. It will lead you to the site of the Sirenes, set up by the Geological Natural Reserve of Haute Provence. Count about thirty minutes of walking to discover the region 40 million years ago!

The Sirenians of the Col des Lèques are marine mammals also called sea cows but also manatees dugongs. Indeed, they are herbivores that feed on algae and aquatic plants. They live mainly near the coasts in warm regions. The fossils present on the site thus come from a very ancient relative of the current dugongs and manatees.


A deposit of sirenians unique in the world

This deposit is one of the oldest and most abundant in the world. Who would have thought that in addition to its many attractions, the Verdon region would also be the world capital of the Sirenians? Indeed, unlike other Sirenian deposits which generally present only a few dimensions, this one is much richer. He was able to bring to light skulls, lower jaws, forearms… Numerous bones which are very seldom present of accustomed. If the Sirenians were so well preserved, it is because they were buried very quickly. It is undoubtedly a storm or a hurricane which is the cause. A meteorological event that may have caused a collapse or a landslide covering this poor manatee population. The region has certainly known a tropical climate in the past, 40 million years ago.

Finally, the Sirenians are buried in marls and yellowish greasy limestones dating from more than 35 million years ago. The latter rest on Jurassic limestones dating from 145 million years ago! 110 million years separate them and are not represented by any rock?


Site formation

Indeed, after a first phase of erosion (from -145 million years to -35 million years), the sea returns and the primitive valleys are covered with water. The site was in fact at that time a kind of marine creek. The layers of mud and sand that were once deposited there became the yellowish rocks of today that contain the Sirenians.

A detail remains to be clarified; how is it that the site which shows fossilized marine mammals is today at an altitude of more than 1000 meters? Indeed, the uplift of the Alps began more than 30 million years ago. This enormous uplift gradually raised in altitude all that was in its periphery. It is this phenomenon that created the so-called “pre-Alpine” massifs such as the Vercors, the Chartreuse, the Diois-Baronnies, the Monts de Vaucluse-Luberon, the Préalpes de Digne and others. The Verdon massif is called “Préalpes de Castellane”.
In this respect, it is interesting to note that the Alps continue to rise by one millimeter per year in some places.

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The pass of Lèques, departure of mountain bike circuits

The pass of Lèques. We have chosen to present you today some mountain bike tours starting from this magnificent pass. The pass of Lèques culminates at 1146 meters of altitude, it dominates Castellane on the N85 leading to Digne-les-Bains. It is also the starting point for a cultural excursion, that of the Sirenians.


The ascent to the pass of Lèques

Two choices are offered to you;

The most courageous will go up from Castellane by riding their bike. They will face a difference in altitude of 428 meters over a distance of 9 kilometers. Enough to warm up the calves. It is not recommended to do this itinerary at 2pm in the middle of summer or you will end up dried out like a prune.

The others will organize a shuttle system to arrive at the top of the pass without getting too tired. Once there, you can always enjoy the view on the valley. You can also have a drink on the terrace of the Sirenes campsite, it is also possible to eat there before the activity. Remember to reserve if you want to eat there in the evening.

Then comes the time of the adventure, are the bikes ready? Helmets on the head, patches or a spare inner tube are packed in the backpack.


The descent from the pass of Lèques

We mount our bike and we leave on the left (coming from Castellane). Then we cross the hotel complex and its ground of tenis to the abandonment. One continues always on this track in direction of the telephone relay. To note that for the most lazy, we can also continue by car on this track. The economy made in legs is paid then in shock absorber of car.

After two kilometers of track, a first junction leaves on the left between two iron bars. This track brings you back to the beginning of the ascent of the pass of Lèques. We will pay attention to the trees that have fallen in the middle before arriving at a farm. A very wild route, which is apparently not used by any four-wheeled vehicle. The farm seems to have remained a prisoner of the past centuries.

Another route; From the track coming from the pass, continue for another two kilometers after the first junction described above. This time you reach a track that takes you through a valley and back to Brayale. From there, you can go down to Castellane in the direction of the road of the gorges. An excellent route!


Villars Brandis

Finally, if you continue this track from the pass in the direction of Cadières de Brandis, you have this time the possibility to go down to Villars Brandis. For my part, I appreciated less this route. Indeed, it imposes some portages (always a little frustrating to have to carry your bike to go down, especially when you sweated a lot before to go up). Moreover, you will meet three patous (imposing Pyrenean shepherds), which is always a bit stressful. According to a friend who lives there, they are as adorable as cuddly toys. Well, you have to let them approach to realize it.

Have a nice trip!

The Funny Helmets.