Verdon Gorges, the essential road trip

The road trip of the Verdon gorges is particularly appreciated. Indeed, many vehicles travel on these roads in summer. We will see here two courses which complement each other and even form a loop. There is no real order to follow, it is up to you.
On these narrow and winding roads, the traffic is generally quite slow, if not very slow. Everything you need to enjoy the scenery! At least, for the passenger or passengers because the driver will always keep both eyes open on the road. Motorcyclists, campers, cars, cyclists and herds of goats, you can be surprised at every turn.

From Castellane to Aiguines by the D71

Allow around 1 hour 20 minutes by car to cover less than 60 km of road. From Castellane, you take the direction of La Pallud on the D952. Shortly before the Taloire bridge, you already go along the Verdon. At the place of Clue St Jean, the road becomes narrower. A quick feature of the Raft and Kayak routes. You pass two campsites then arrive at the junction of the Pont de Soleil. You have to turn left towards Soleils and La Rive Gauche des Gorges du Verdon (D955). The Soleils bakery is a compulsory stop for gourmets.

You cross Soleils then take a right towards Trigance (D90). The village deserves to be seen. A few bends further, you join the departemental road D71 and take on the right. You then cross a desert plateau. In the distance, the Canjuers military camp. You will soon join the Verdon at the Mescla viewpoint, a compulsory stop! Then the Artuby bridge from where you can bungee jump. The road winds through the forest and then passes through the Fayet tunnel dug in 1950. We then arrive at the Hotel du Grand Canyon, our departure for the Aqua Trekking Day course. Another 15 minutes before arriving at Aiguines. Small village of wood turners. From there you join Moustiers which is also worth the detour.


From Moustiers-Sainte-Marie to Castellane by the D952

Allow around 1 hour by car to cover 45 km of road. You retrace your steps towards Aiguines then take a left at the roundabout towards La Pallud-sur-verdon on the D952. The road rises little by little and offers magnificent views of the largest of the Verdon lakes, Lac Sainte-Croix. This very winding road then crosses the site of Saint Maurin. We arrive a little further at the Col de Olivier from where a few hiking routes depart.

A little further; La Pallud from where the Route des Crêtes leaves, the icing on the cake for this day. You continue towards Castellane and pass by Point Sublime. Above is Rougon and below is the Samson Corridor. You continue and descend on the Verdon which you join at the Carajuan Bridge, park, it’s the beach! You will soon arrive at the Pont de Soleils and the circle is complete. Hoping that this road trip made you have a good day.


Rafting in the Aude Gorges, Pyrénées Orientales

Aude, a varied destination

The Aude is a river located in the Occitanie region. It rises in the Pyrenees Orientales, at 1700 meters above sea level. It flows two hundred kilometers further into the Mediterranean Sea, at the Fleur huts, not far from Narbonne. All along its route, wild parts ideal for fishing will follow one another. But also tumultuous parts, ideal for white water sports. Then quieter parts, ideal for canoeing.

White water sports

Between Axat and Quillan is the Haute Vallée de l’Aude. A must-see destination for whitewater activities such as rafting, hydrospeed (also called whitewater swimming) or canoraft (hot dog). Nearly fourteen kilometers of wild river are adapted to these practices. They are possible from April to September, for everyone from 6 years old.

Une rivière au débit régulé par l’hydro-électricité

Les lacs de montagne (retenue de Puivalador et de Matemale) servent de réservoir aux différentes usines hydro-électriques présentes le long de l’Aude. Ces derniers régulent le débit de la rivière qui reste suffisant même en été pour la pratique du rafting. En effet, ces lacs ont été construits au départ pour augmenter le débit de l’Aude en période de sécheresse car la rivière est aussi utilisée pour l’irrigation et l’alimentation du canal du midi.


Rafting with Oxygen Aventure

From spring, rafting activities on the Aude are possible until the end of September.

Oxygen Aventure is a group of independent instructors whose base is located in Belvianes and Cavirac, near Quillan, at the arrival of the rafting course, along the river. During the rafting descent, it will be possible to descend the gorges of Saint Georges (upstream of Axat) but also the gorges of Pierre Lys (between Saint Martin Lys and Belvianes and Cavirac).


The Funny Helmets.

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.
The Funny Helmets.

Transverdon with MTB. Allos pass to Gréoux-les-bains

The transverdon with MBT

The Transverdon, only for the braves !! 3 – 2 – 1 – GO !! to your bikes !! 260 km, certified by the French Cycling Federation, La Transverdon is one of the 10 largest mountain bike crossings in France!

The route begins at the sources of Verdon, met at the Allos Pass at 2247 m altitude. A particularly Alpine, sporty and demanding route that crosses the mountains and joins the lakes of altitude. Thereafter, starting from Saint-André, with the entry in the Natural Park of the Verdon, one joins Castellane, Chasteuil, Rougon, Moustier Sainte-Marie and Gréoux-les-bains by remounting old forgotten roads. A second part more Mediterranean or it will always be good to refresh yourself in the beautiful lakes of Verdon if you start from the month of June.

A course divided into 15 sections

The course is divided into 15 sections plus an annex (from Barcelonette to the Col d’Allos and one at the arrival of Gréoux les Bains to Manosque). Perfectly identifiable, these sections are linked in the order you want, it is also easy to find accommodation on the course.

Here’s how we linked 15 sections of the transverdon in 5 days. First three days in the fall, followed by two more in June of the following year:

Day 1 / Allos Pass – Colmars les Alpes (sections 1 and 2) We start by crossing a magnificent forest of larches, the day will be tough for both the driver and the machine.

Day 2 / Colmars the Alps – Thorame Basse (sections 3, 4 and 5) The most difficult day I think, we find ourselves pushing the bike on very steep slopes … Black runs in winter .. The arrival at Lake Lignin is sublime.

Day 3 / Thorame Basse – Castellane (sections 6, 7 and 8) It goes down! Not quite … Beautiful views of Lake Castillon from Blaron. Personally very tired after these three days, I am very happy to put the transverdon in pause until next June

Day 4 / Castellane – Moustiers Sainte-Marie (sections 9, 10 and 11)
We resume the course in June with the first beautiful days so much so that the heat made us suffer a little.

Day 5 / Moustiers Sainte-Marie – Gréoux-les-Bains (sections 12, 13, 14 and 15) With much less height difference than in the first sections, the course of 4 sections is still very long

It is strongly recommended to train beforehand on the course of Castellane can be ..


 The Funny Helmets

In the Verdon, climate changes between 2017 and 2018?

Climatic changes

“Climatic changes”. Words that we hear a lot these days unfortunately .. Between 2017 and 2018, we could note some climatic changes in the Verdon. Would this valley distant from the industrial world be affected by such whims of nature?

2018, rainy summer in the Verdon

This year, with a generous winter in snowfall, until the end of May, we could see the snow-capped mountains. Especially from Castellane to the Rafting embarkation. Suffice to say that the water reserves were already well assured. Thereafter, the cool temperatures and the heavy rains of spring allowed a gradual melting. This ensured a constant level in the Verdon for Canoe and Rafting.

Note that it rained then it rained … Number of sessions we did under the deluge. It’s always part of the adventure and then, wet for wet.

We were asked a lot for the activity Aqua Trekking during this period. However, the first trips were made this year, only from the second week of July. An exceptional fact when you know that last year for example, they had started in May.

Indeed, it had already rained more than normal in May-June. So we thought it would calm down in summer .. Not at all! In July and August, a thunderstorm hit the valley every two or three days. Note in passing that when this happens, communications on mobile phones are interrupted until the next morning. What complicates things a little when you have a number that starts with 06!

The days of water were therefore linked almost continuously. Remember that “water day” on the Verdon means that the dam is open. It then delivers a sufficient volume of water to allow to descend with small and large boats. Three, sometimes four days of water a week! With a flow approaching thirteen cubic meters per second. What changes enormously from the ten cubic meters per second delivered generally in summer.

2017, dry summer in the Verdon

On the other hand, we remember that in 2017, the winter was very poor in snow and there was not a drop of water in July and August. We only took advantage of five days of water in July and August, as the inflows upstream from Lake Castillon were weak. We did Aqua Trekking a lot, the water was almost warm. The guides used to paddling turned into sirens of the Verdon!

For more than 20 years that I’m near the Verdon, 2017 remains the driest summer I’ve ever known and 2018, the rainiest … Two extremes in two years.


2022, in the Verdon, drought amplified by the media

For the first time in the Verdon since rafting exists, it was not possible to raft… Indeed, after a winter without snow and particularly mild, the precipitations were not there either. So, for the first time, the dams could not reach the summer objective, no release was programmed. This means that no release days for rafting could take place. However, it was possible to go rafting every day!

The media then murdered the Verdon! An unprecedented Verdon bashing has hit our region. Sensationalist, false and unverified information diverted the summer clientele to other places. 2022 was the ideal summer to enjoy the Verdon!


The Funny Helmets.