ESY-018455516 - © - CSP_phbcz
Plateau Valensole, Provence: lavender field
Verdon Gorge, France
Y9Q-1903393 - © - Chris Hellier
Close-up of church steeple on stone bricks at sunset, with clock and flags, in Gréoux-les-Bains.
5-day roadtrip from Castellane to Sainte-Croix du Verdon
This 5-day circuit in Haute-Provence offers total immersion into the heart of nature, from the Durance to the gorges of Verdon.
A high-altitude itinerary punctuated with visits, water sports and the chance to explore spectacular sites that will appeal to the whole family.
Setting off from the charming village of Castellane to reach Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon 5 days later, in the heart of the gorges.
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Whether you arrive via the route of Napoléon or Haut Verdon, you will be captivated by the spectacular setting: the difference in scale is striking between the town and its Rock, a cyclopean cliff that dominates at 184m.
You feel an irresistible urge to walk through its doorways and stroll through its narrow lanes dotted with plots and fountains, that bear witness to the Provence of old. An ideal base to explore the gorges du Verdon and enjoy so many sports.
Take a seat on the terrace of Place Marcel Sauvaire, visit the old town to find the Maison of Nature and Heritage and, finally, head for Digne-les-Bains.
MyTripTailor Tip: For the children: the Museum of Sirens and Fossils, the Citromuseum or the leisure centre at Lac de Castillon.
Guarding the gates of the Pre-Alps, Digne-les-Bains owes its name to the hot springs that line its valley. A spa town and prefecture of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, it remains busy throughout the year.
Enjoy a morning walk through the town and after lunch visit the Lavender Museum and the Cordeliers Botanical Garden. Located in the grounds of a college, the former convent of the Cordeliers, you will find a medieval garden, composed of simple flowerbeds, aromatic and culinary plants and a kitchen garden. A little corner of paradise!
At the end of the day head to Gréoux-les-Bains.
MyTripTailor Tip: If time pemits, visit Notre-Dame-du-Bourg Cathedral and its archaeological crypt.
Jean Giono saw the « romantic oasis of Verdon » in Gréoux, located in the heart of Provence.
Now very busy, particularly with curists, the ancient thermal and climatic city, chosen from the 1st century by the Romans for the therapeutic strengths of its waters, constantly cultivates colours and scents, from the turquoise mirror of Lac d’Esparron to its lavender fields.
Take a morning stroll through the old village. Its characteristic houses nestled at the foot of the castle’s south side.
Climb to the Château des Templiers with its mighty square keep. It hosts exhibitions in the guards hall and in summer its courtyard provides the setting for numerous festivals. Next, explore the andrones, the lanes that lurk beneath the houses. On the other side of Rue Grande, the main shopping street, is the church of N.-D.-des-Ormeaux, Romanesque but reworked over the centuries.
Enjoy the end of the day on the terrace before arriving in Riez, your next stop.
MyTripTailor Tip: allow one hour for your walk through the town and one more to go to St-Julien-le-Montagnier and admire the view.
You wake in Riez, a Gallic village, then Roman colony; the place has preserved its old picturesque streets where strolls have become a way of life.
It’s located in the Verdon Regional Nature Park and surrounding it, extends the Valensole plateau and the Lac de Ste-Croix. The famous gorges are not too far away either.
Be sure to go and see the Roman columns and the baptistery and, if you have time, head to the St-Maxime hill (2kms northeast). From the pine shaded terrace, you will discover a sublime panorama of Riez, the plateau of Valensole, the Pre-Alps of Castellane, the Haut Var, the Luberon and the Mountain of Lure!
After this, it’s time to head for Saint-André-les-Alpes.
MyTripTailor Tip: guided tours of the historic city are organized during the main season.
The tourist crosroads at the confluence of the Issole and Verdon, St-André-les-Alpes, entry point in Haut Verdon, appears in a small basin.
The Grand-Rue shopping area has colourful facades whilst Place de la Fontaine offers shade. The small town is dotted with nine panels that allow you to discover St-André clothier past, that enjoyed its finest hour during the 19th Century. Today, it’s a site of international notoriety for hosting numerous paragliding competitions.
By the middle of the day, it’s time to head to Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon, your last stop.
Once perched, the village is now at the water’s edge… You can enjoy numerous water sports on site and if your schedule allows you should go to see the St. Croix dam.
MyTripTailor Tip: there is the chance to pedal boat or canoe at Plan beach, not far from Saint-André.
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