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.


Funny Helmets


Rafting and flora of the Verdon observed

To practice a white water activity like rafting on the Verdon is also to discover its flora. In fact, more than 2,000 plant species have been identified in the territory of the PNRV. This represents a third of the number of species that can be found in France. The territory of the Verdon Natural Park represents only a third of a department. That is to say the rich flora which conceals the Verdon! We won’t talk about everything in this modest article. We will focus more specifically on rafting and the flora of the Verdon. In other words, to the flora that we meet while practicing our activities in the Verdon.

The flora in the Grand Canyon, a particular stage

The peculiarities of the microclimate and the reliefs play a huge role in the diversification of environments and species. Upstream of the canyon, there is a classic tiering of flora. First, there is the green oak grove on the edge of the cliffs. Above, there is the white oak, then the beech. Finally, at the top of the slope, there is the beech forest with yew trees.

Once in the canyon, everything reverses! In fact, going down towards the river, the light decreases just like the temperature while the humidity increases. This particular phenomenon leads to an inversion of the vegetation stages. Below the green oak grove encountered on the edge of the canyon, we will therefore find the white oak grove then a beech grove or a maple slope. At the bottom of the canyon, freed from Mediterranean constraints, the yew finds an almost mountain atmosphere.

Protection of the flora that can be found in the Verdon

Knowing how to preserve this flora is a major asset for its protection. This is why we present here some rules of common sense which allow nature to suffer less on our contact.

-A good photo will cross time better than a bouquet that dries in the sun and that sooner or later will end up in the trash.

– Harvest only those plants that can be identified and that can be ensured that they are not protected.

– cut the plants as cleanly as possible using a knife or scissors.


The Funny Helmets

Mount Chiran Astronomical Observatory

The Mount Chiran Astronomical Observatory now belongs to an association that welcomes you for an evening under the stars. The Mont Chiran observatory is located in the Verdon Regional Natural Park at 1905 meters above sea level.

Many of you contact us about the observatory. Unfortunately, we cannot give you more precise information. We are not the observatory! We do rafting!

Go to the Mount Chiran astronomical observatory

A good hour’s walk is necessary to get there. You will find on the observatory website the few hiking trails leading to it. It is also possible to access it in VIP class with the help of a 4×4, on request only. The helicopter and the mule are under study. For now, I can only guarantee that there will be a big price difference between the two. Better to practice walking while waiting.

There is no source at the top of Chiran, we collect rainwater. So remember to take water but bottles of mineral water are also for sale on site. Even in summer, the nights are cool, remember to bring warm clothes to better appreciate the night under the stars.


Evening program

The meal served at the Chiran Astronomical Observatory is like an introduction to observing the sky. It is an aperitif in some ways … Between dishes, we take advantage of the sunset, we also track down the green ray and the anti-twilight ark.

Night settles and then begin the real observations. Between constellations and nocturnal landscapes. We see for example the nearest lighthouses on the edge of the Mediterranean. But also the planets and galaxies. time is also attached to observing the Moon when it is present.

Joseph Mordelet, guardian and astronomer of the Chiran astronomical observatory will be able to fill you with information about this sky which he knows so well.


Astronomical observation and music at the Mount Chiran observatory

Tiphaine Sson, musician artist, complements the astronomer’s comments. Indeed, this seasoned improvisational musician punctuates Joseph’s interventions with improvisations on voice but also on piano and guitar. Sound and light like you’ve never seen before! Grandeur and simplicity. The instruments are available to all those who wish to add their stone to the improvisation.

During the full moon weeks, the light released by the latter prohibits observation of the sky. We take the opportunity to bring in musicians and organize concerts under the observatory’s dome.


The Funny Helmets 

Rafting Nice – Canoe Nice – Adventure for Everyone

Rafting less than two hours away from Nice? Yes it’s possible! It is in the Verdon, in the heart of the Alpes de Haute Provence that we are pleased to welcome you. In Castellane exactly, on our brand new base! Let yourself be carried by the Napoleon road, it will guide you to us. All our activities are supervised by a certified guide. Some are reserved for the more athletic while others are very family oriented. Reservations and Information by email, whatsapp or phone.


Rafting Nice Verdon

The Verdon in complete safety! You descend the Verdon in a large inflatable boat type “zodiac”, operated with a paddle. A qualified guide directs the boat and gives you all the information to follow. An ideal activity for family and friends. During the descent and especially when it is hot, we always take the time to indulge in some “aquatic activities” for those who obviously want it. Jumping and fast swimming, there is something for everyone!

From 8 years and 40 € per person

Several routes are offered;

-The 2h30 classic from Castellane to Pont de Soleils. A very progressive course, both in terms of landscapes and rapids on the river. A route that brings together the essentials of Verdon and avoids the portage of Point Sublime.

-The short descent of 1h30 from Castellane to Chasteuil. Economical for large families! Even if it lasts only 1h30, you still pass the famous rapid of the Porte Saint Jean. We take the time to stop and swim in it. Super fun!

-Chasteuil-Point Sublime, 2h30. A course that makes you discover the first kilometers of the Grand Canyon. More sporty and absolutely formidable course. Navigating the canyon will leave you with unforgettable memories. Be careful, once you get to the bottom, you will have to bring the equipment back up, including rafting to the parking lot for the last 500 meters of Chemin Blanc-Martel.

-Castellane-Point Sublime. The complete Verdon! A descent that brings together all the aspects of the routes mentioned above. It is declined in two modes. The 3h30 mode, or the descent in a row with a few pauses. Day mode, i.e. the descent cut in half with a good lunch break in the middle. We do not offer “Castellane-Point Sublime” in July and August.


Canoe Nice Verdon

An activity for the most athletic! Indeed, it is up to you to manage your single or two-seater boat. A guide also accompanies you, but from his own boat. He will have taken care beforehand to give you all the maneuvering and safety instructions.

From 12 years and 50 €

The proposed routes depend on the water levels given by the Chaudanne dam;

-When the dam is open, we exclusively do the “classic” route from Castellane to Pont de Soleils for a period of 2h30 on the water, or about 14 km.

-When the dam is closed, we start from Pont de Soleils and end at Point Sublime. A very easy course technically which cannot be done in July-August because the reserved flow is too low in this season.


Aqua Trekking Nice Verdon

By low water level (when the dam is closed), we go for a “swim” in the Grand Canyon of Verdon. An activity that is done with a neoprene suit, a helmet and a suitable life jacket that allows very good mobility in the water. We offer several routes; Super Easy, from 6 years (45 €), Full day, from 14 years (75 €) and XXL on 2 days, from 16 years (150 €).

The two half-day routes are located at the Belvédère du Couloir Samson. From upstream to downstream;

-Pont de Tusset route; Very easy and very sunny. Usually reserved for the youngest, it nevertheless has a very nice jump that you can do again at will.

-The Samson corridor; the classic. Formidable narrowings, points of view inaccessible from the bank.



The Days and XXL routes are the most beautiful activities that we can offer in the Verdon.

– Routes that start much lower downstream. At the Chalet de la Maline from the right bank or at the Hotel du Grand Canyon on the left bank.


Rafting Nice-verdon – Canoe Nice-verdon, call the +33 6 62 48 12 70. Come many, we are waiting for you!

Canyoning Verdon Gorges, the Mainmorte ravine

We are actually talking about Canyoning Gorges du Verdon since the Mainmorte Canyon ends directly in the Grand Canyon du Verdon. It is reached from the spectacular Route des Crêtes in La Pallud-sur-Verdon. Taken by our friends Sébastien, canyon guide we made this adventure in … 2001, maybe 2002 .. The memory remains indelible almost 20 years later.

Access walk and first part

Most of the canyoning courses Gorges du Verdon generally require a good approach. The Mainmorte Canyon is a departure from the rule since after parking our vehicle we walked barely a quarter of an hour before putting down the first rappel. A dry and mineral environment, no chance to come across a drop of water in the middle of summer. We chain two or three small abseils and a small zip line. On the latter, I remember putting my hand on a huge cockroach, I then uttered a cry that frightened everyone.


Last part; the big rappels

After the “cockroach” zip line came the first big rappel. Seb put the rope down and we went down those 20 meters of abseiling one behind the other. We landed on the arrival of the latter, the perfect place for picnic as you can see in the photo. After the meal comes dessert! The famous 40-meter rappel that ends in a spider’s thread above the Verdon. From hanging in the air, we end up in the river. For this purpose, it is advisable to know the level of the river before committing to this recall. Going down while the Verdon rumbles could be very uncomfortable on arrival.


The rise of Mainmorte canyoning

Usually, the “canyoning” colleagues who propose this route then run to the Imbut, the funnel in Provence. The passage is absolutely worth the detour if you have never been there. It is a huge scree area in which the Verdon has found its way over the millennia. The imbut is also the highlight of the Aquatic Day Hike that we offer. To return to the canyoning of Mainmorte, the ascent is then made by the Chemin du Maugué. A fairly dizzying route on the right bank. For our part, Seb decided to innovate and come back up with a voice called “Les crêtes”. Climbing somehow … I remember having a little drooling and this void … always very present.

In conclusion; An exceptional day.

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.

Rafting Provence, Canoe Provence and Aqua Trekking

Rafting Provence? Canoe Provence? With Verdon Xp & The Funny Helmets! Descend the Verdon, one of the most beautiful rivers in the region. The Verdon crosses one of the most famous canyons in Europe, 20 km long. Transparent waters heavily loaded with limestone which, under the Provence sun take on this exotic emerald color. The frame is set.

In this Alpine region, several rivers such as the Var, the Tinée or the Vésubie allow navigation. Rather seasonally, when the flow of the rivers takes advantage of the snowmelt or a few rains. The Verdon with its many dams givesthe possibility of allowing the sailing even at the height of summer.

Rafting Provence – Rafting Verdon

Come and taste the joys of our “Rafting Provence – Rafting Verdon” activity! You are 6 to 8 people in the raft. Equipped with a simple paddle, you will brave the rapids of the Emerald River. Don’t worry, it’s not your job to steer the ship. Indeed, a certified guide will embark with you and give you all the instructions. Ideal for family or friends. During the descent, we do not fail to make a few stops. The descent is thus embellished with several “aquatic activities” such as jumps or swimming in a rapid. Only for volunteers of course!

From 8 years old (40) €

Course 1h30 (40 €) – 2h30 (50 €) – 2h30 Point Sublime (55 €) – 3h30 (65 €) – day (70 €)


rafting sur le verdon avec verdon-xp


Canoe Provence – Canoe Verdon

The “Canoe Provence – Canoe Verdon” activity is aimed at the most athletic.
Indeed, this activity will be perfect for those who are afraid of getting bored in the Rafting activity. You are in control of your boat, equipped with a double paddle. Alone or in pairs, you face the tumults of the Verdon!

These are inflatable boats waiting for you. Indeed, the Verdon is a medium mountain river which presents more difficulties than a river where one generally uses plastic canoes. A certified guide will accompany you on the river after giving you all the necessary explanations.

Consult our “Canoe-Kayak” page. You will learn there why it may be easier to start with a single-seater. Even for beginners or beginners.

From 12 years (50€)



airboat kayaking verdon xp simple et double

Rafting Provence Impossible? Come and test the Aqua Trekking!

When the Chaudanne dam is closed, we go on an adventure in the Grand Canyon du Verdon. In low water flow, we swim in the river equipped with neoprene suits, helmets and life jackets. In a way, you are your own boat, even inside your wetsuit which will absorb the caresses made to the stones. For those who are apprehensive, no worries, jumps are never compulsory. Indeed, on a canyoning course, the jumps and abseils are imposed by the logic of the progression. However in Aquatic Trekking, we make a detour to find these jumps which remain an option.

Half-day Aqua Trekking

Accessible to everyone from 6 years old (40 €). Very easy and very easy to access route, little walking.

“Le Pont de Tusset” est le parcours adapté aux 6-8 ans. Un parcours très ouvert donc très ensoleillé. Les plus grands en ont aussi pour leur compte avec le superbe saut de la Salpêtrière. Un saut de plus de 6 mètres de haut que l’on peut refaire autant de fois que l’on veut.

Juste en aval se trouve le parcours classique demi-journée, ‘Le Couloir Samson”. Il renferme de formidables étroitures et des rapides un peu plus sportifs. Le retour se fait par les derniers tunnels du sentier Blanc-Martel.

Aqua Trekking Day

Reserved for the most athletic from 14 years (70 €). Sports course plus 2h walk with elevation gain.

The meeting point is in the parking lot of the Hotel du Grand Canyon, on the left bank, on the D71. It is undoubtedly the most beautiful adventure that we can offer in the Verdon. You need to be comfortable in the water and able to hike in the mountains for a day.


XXL Aquatic Hike over 2 days

Always reserved for the most athletic from 16 years old (150 €). Two-day sports course.

Two days of Aquatic hike to discover the cream of the Grand Canyon. The second day is a continuation of the first. That is to say from the Imbut to the Col de Oliviers. You can also choose to take a day off in the middle and make the trip over three days.


rando aqua journee avec verdon xp, imbut




Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and the legends of the star

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, one of the most beautiful villages in France

There is evidence of the presence of man since prehistoric times. The village in the lines we know today, was founded in the 5th century by some monks. At the crossroads of the Gorges du Verdon, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is today perceived as one of the most beautiful villages in France. To this, add the charm of Provence, its lavender, olive trees … and the setting is heavenly. From the village, you can also access some adventure trails. Standing at the foot of imposing cliffs, you can visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie in the sandstone of its few alleys overflowing with merchants and history.

The village made its reputation in particular thanks to earthenware in the 17th and 18th centuries. A tradition that is still perpetuated today since the village still has a dozen workshops. But also many stores in summer.

The legends of the star

The star of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie hangs on a chain 135 meters long. Stretched between two cliffs about sixty meters above the village. Over the centuries, we forgot the origin and the meaning of this star. This gave rise to some tales and legends.

Among the legends of the star, the most widely distributed being that of the Chevalier de Blacas. Blacasset, grandson of the great Blacas de Blacas the troubadour warrior. A French nobility family which had its stronghold around Aups. He went to the crusades and was taken prisoner by the enemy. Blacasset then swore to hang a sixteen-pointed star, a symbol of his family above Moustiers if he saw his country again. The current star, covered with gold leaf, has only ten branches. Indeed, we learn from the village registers that it has already fallen a dozen times over the past centuries. This legend is in fact a pure fiction of the poet Frederic Mistral and does not reflect any historical link.

Another legend reports that young lovers from enemy families committed suicide in these places so as not to be allowed to love each other. The two grief-stricken families put the chain down and reconciled.

We are talking about the Three Kings but also the Templars who left a clue to find the treasure they were going to hide in the mountains … There are close to twenty legends today around the chain of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie .

Come see it and invent your own!

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.