Where should you practice canoeing in the Verdon? The Verdon in all its vastness connects the Southern Alps to the valley of the Middle Durance in the Provence. While most of the territory is covered on foot, another part is discovered by sailing on Verdonian waters. Indeed, a few well-defined portions of the river and the Gorges are home to summer aquatic activities, such as canoeing or kayaking! Canoe rides are mainly concentrated between Castellane and Esparron-de-Verdon, which still represent 80 km of the river!
Canoeing in the Verdon, the most beautiful places to explore the canyon
Canoeing in the Baudinard Gorge:
To start with an easy, beautiful and still relatively uninhabited itinerary, the Baudinard gorges offer a magnificent two to three hour walk. Too bad the water’s a little cold! To book, you will find on this site the reservation on the Canoe sticker in the hidden side of the Verdon.
Located just downstream of Lake St. Croix, these gorges constitute a canyon that is only accessible and visible by water. As for exploration, you can enter a few caves with your boat. Moss walls and small waterfalls provide a very pleasant feeling of freshness in summer.
Access, duration and difficulty of the Baudinard gorges:
To reach the gorges, take the road between Baudinard and Montpezat. The gorges are located just next to the campsite “Les coteaux de la Marine”. A nautical base located in the campsite allows the rental of boats for all at very reasonable prices. Allow 3 hours to explore the gorges with your boat. This hike is suitable for young children as there are no rapids or currents in this part of the Verdon. Finally, for swimming, prefer the low gorges! Indeed, the water temperature here is particularly cold.
The route of the lower gorges:
A little longer, the route of the low gorges between Esparron and Quinson. This route is also a magnificent and unforgettable experience. Reservations can be made on this website with the Perle du Verdon. It will take 4 to 5 hours to walk through the lower gorges. Renting an electric boat can be a good idea if you are with your family with young children. It is easy to swim because the water is much more temperate than at Baudinard.
Access to the lower gorges, duration and difficulty:
The access to the low gorges is easy from Esparron de Verdon or Quinson. We advise you to rent a boat in Esparron and then go up the gorges. Indeed, the return will be easier due to the direction of the current. Again, do not expect rapids on the river. It is an easy and pleasant walk and well adapted to children. Allow at least half a day or even a full day to explore the low gorges.
The Galetas Bridge and the Grand Canyon du Verdon
One of the most beautiful sites is, of course, the Galetas bridge near Moustiers Sainte Marie: it is also the most visited. From the bridge, you enter the gorges with turquoise water and can go up the Verdon river for about 2 km. Further away, a cascade of tuff will come to refresh you in case of strong heat! What a pleasure to sail in this magical place, probably one of the most beautiful sites in France for canoeing!
On the other hand, the Grand Canyon itself is only accessible by kayak: it is a difficult and committed itinerary that requires several years of experience in this sport. To explore the Grand Canyon, see our article on waterfall hikes.
Access, difficulty, and duration of the canoe trip in the Grand Canyon du Verdon:
Access is very easy from the Galétas bridge. From Moustiers Sainte-Marie, take the road towards Les Salles Sur Verdon. Here again, this tour is suitable for children. Allow about two hours to make the round trip to the buoys that limit the area authorized for navigation.
What if I prefer river rafting?
The canoe on the Verdon is rather quiet and suitable for children or for a family trip. For rafting, airboat, hotdog, and thrills, see our article on rafting in the Verdon.
Lakes of Sainte-Croix and Esparron
From the top of its 160 hectares, Lake Esparron offers a splendid landscape ideal for canoeing. Knowing that the use of an internal combustion engine is strictly prohibited on the lake, you will discover a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere. Whether you want to rest in one of the coves of the lake or venture into the Lower Verdon Gorges, there is no better way to paddle in peace.
You can also go to the outlet of the gorges, at the Pont du Galetas, near Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Canoes and kayaks will allow you to go up part of the gorges quite easily and with your family. But take into account the recommendations of the rental companies or your guides! The gorges are indeed a sensitive natural environment that must be respected, but also approached with caution. Indeed, some dangers are waiting for the unconscious, starting with water level variations that sometimes occur and could put you in difficulty.
Canoeing the Verdon: go boating with young children
If you are traveling with a family and young children, you can refer to our article about boat rental in the Verdon. You will find the most beautiful routes and practical information to rent a boat.
For a longer aquatic exploration of the Gorges du Verdon, the presence of a guide will be very useful. The aim here is to explore the Grand Canyon of Verdon, swim in the Styx and swim into the chaos of the Imbut blocks. See the activity tabs on this site or what to do with children from 7 to 13 years old to book a water hike.
In the Lower Gorges, we advise you to go to Esparron de Verdon to reconcile sailing and swimming. From these two villages, access to the Cours du Verdon, which is quieter, is very easy. Here too, canoe and kayak rental companies will give you all the information you need for a few hours of family relaxation.
However, booking is still the best way to have a boat, especially in summer. You can check availability and rental prices here.
The most beautiful beaches
The lakes and gorges of the Verdon offer a wide choice of beaches and swimming spots. Below is a small selection of beaches for all tastes:
On Lake Esparron:
We highly recommend the island of Le Barbu, near Lake Esparron. It is a small peninsula, opposite the village of Esparron de Verdon, accessible by canoe. This paradisiacal place will offer you wild beaches, green meadows, as well as small peaceful creeks.
Still, on Lake Esparron, the beach of Saint-Julien is pleasant and especially known to the locals. We go there from Gréoux Les Bains. After crossing the Verdon on a small bridge, turn left onto a road for about 5 km.
Going to Esparron de Verdon’s beach requires walking about 400 to 500 meters to a small “calanque” (creek): do not expect a sandy beach. Indeed, the rocky shores of the lake plunge directly into translucent, turquoise water!
On Lake Sainte-Croix:
The lakes of Sainte-Croix have many beaches. With kids, the beach of Sainte-Croix is particularly pleasant. It offers space, shade or sunshine and shallow water over a distance of about 30 meters.
La Cadeno beach is famous for its sailing school. To access it, locate the roundabout located after Moustiers in the direction of Les Salles sur Verdon. This roundabout marks the crossing with La Palud Sur Verdon’s road. Then follow the direction of the rooms and drive 3 km on the D952. Then take a track on the right under a portico clearly visible from the main road.
Further along the same road, La plage de Galetas is located near the eponymous bridge over the Verdon between Moustiers Sainte-Marie and Les Salles sur Verdon. Very busy in season, this beach is the starting point for one of the most beautiful canoe trips (see our photo).
Continuing, between the Galetas Bridge and Les Salles Sur Verdon, many beaches are easily accessible from the main road by car paths that lead to parking areas.
In Bauduen, you will discover a small beach located just under the village. Moreover, it is possible to rent electric boats for half a day or a day to cross the lake and go up in the Gorges.
If you are with your family with young children, you are looking for shady beaches with shallow water on the lakeside. We advise you to walk along the lake and cross Bauduen towards the west. Park in a car park at the end of the village and continue on foot for 300 meters. Small shady beaches are waiting for you.
On the lake of Artignosc:
Between the St. Croix Dam and Quinson, you will discover three small lakes. The first two lakes are very pretty and wild but swimming over there is not allowed. Between Saint-Laurent and Artignosc, you will find an ideal beach for young children with the nautical base of Artignosc. The interest of this site is the shallow water depth. In addition, its layout makes it, along with the beach of Sainte-Croix, one of the most suitable places for families. This section of the Verdon located downstream of the Baudinard gorges is wilder and worth a visit. Indeed, the waters of the Verdon are very calm and cross a nature full of its aquatic fauna and flora. Canoe rides are available and you can select some of them in the activities with young children pages of this guide.
To find out more about beaches and boat rentals in the Verdon
We offer you many other bathing sites in an article in our blog dedicated exclusively to beaches. For boat rental, please refer to our article which informs you about the most beautiful courses and rental conditions.