One of the most beautiful canyons in the Verdon: “La Fernée slot canyon”
Canyoning in the Verdon: today, Luc offered to guide me in one of the most beautiful canyons of the Verdon: La Fernée slot canyon.
This canyon, located not far from Moustiers Sainte-Marie, begins with a series of abseils. After this first vertiginous episode, the rest is totally aquatic in the “Verdon Secret”. To sum up, I will say that it is a cocktail of vertigo and turquoise water that you will not ever forget!
What are the difficulties of this canyon?
La Fernée slot Canyon is primarily aimed at a sports audience aged 12 to 60 with a practice of abseiling. If you like swimming in turquoise water and you are not afraid of rappels, you will enjoy yourself!
Indeed, this canyon does not present any major difficulty. However, it will offer you a good dose of adventure!
Finally, do not forget that the final lift from Mayreste to “La Colle de l’Olivier” will take you an hour… So if you are ready for 6 hours of adventure in one of the most beautiful landscapes of the Verdon, don’t hesitate! This canyon is for you. Discover canyoning in the Verdon…
Access to the slot canyon
Access to the fernée slot canyon is close to the Mayreste lookout. For those who don’t know it, it is the first hairpin turn on La Palud road from Moustiers once you pass the roadmaster’s house. Doesn’t that still speak to you? Perhaps you know the farm of Mayreste? This farmhouse, clearly visible from the road below, was the scene of a famous film shoot. The film “Les spécialistes” with Bernard Giraudeau and Gérard Lanvin… But let’s get back to our canyon! After parking your vehicle in Mayreste, you take the Bastidon trail and follow it for thirty minutes. There you are, you’re almost there…
The arrival in La Fernée slot canyon and the first abseil
That day, we accompanied a group of friends from the Jura region. As you will see from the photos, the Jura man is not easily impressed. The first abseil allows us to gradually enter the atmosphere. At La Fernée, we start quietly and work our way up. The second abseil is a little more technical… Finally, the last two abseils bring us above the void with arrival in turquoise water for the last reminder! Luc ensures the safety of the customers and that leaves me free to take a series of photos. It must be said that the final abseil is particularly photogenic. At the very bottom, the pebble beach extends its arms to us. After a well-deserved first swim, we take advantage of the beach for a lunch break in this magical place.
The arrival in the “Secret Verdon”: a unique experience of canyoning.
So here we are in the legendary and mythical “Verdon Secret“. This is an opportunity for a break. If you have a good command of canyoning techniques, this does not mean that you will be able to free yourself from a guide. Indeed, mastering the canyon is one thing, knowing how to progress in the rapids of the Verdon is another. Let us recall here that if the exploration of the Verdon Canyon dates back to 1905 with the epic of Alfred Martel, the practice of the canyon is much more recent. Roger Verdeggen was the first to dare to take his customers across the Verdon in the 1970s. At the time, he was going away for three days with two bivouacs! In other words, our adventure today must be put into perspective…
Swimming in the Secret Verdon: an unforgettable experience
So here we are again in the water. The route that separates the canyons from the fernée of the Cabrielle canyon is the first part of our aquatic adventure. Depending on the water level, this part of the Verdon allows the passage of a siphon.
The passage of the siphon
Have you ever crossed a siphon in apnea? Our guide shows us the passage: it is a huge flat-bottomed rock that obstructs the river. The water rushes under the rock to come out one meter further (at least we hope so). With my equipment and especially my backpack which serves as afloat, I find myself stuck under the rock. Underwater, hands in the air against the rock, I push myself downstream until I find the exit. I must admit that these few seconds underwater seem quite long. Finally, I emerge on the other side of the rock with some relief.
The secondary canyon of the marble corridor
After passing through the Cabrielle siphon (which is not mandatory and can easily be bypassed), we are at the entrance of the marble corridor. The Verdon rushes into a secondary canyon under a huge arch. For me, it is one of the most beautiful passages of the Verdon, which is not under-reiterated in the Styx.
On the left bank, erosion has cut the rock into all kinds of shapes. Sunlight penetrates under the porch and illuminates the rock, which appears to be alive due to the reflections of the water. This show is really magical but pushed by the current in the marble corridor, we don’t enjoy it long enough.
Arrival at the old footbridge of Mayreste
We have already arrived at the old footbridge of Mayreste, which marks the end of the Secret Verdon. I really like this place. Indeed, I have often thought about this trail that once linked Mayreste to Aiguines. This footbridge destroyed by a flood in the 70ties must have been very beautiful. Looking closely at the footbridge access trail, we realize that a whole section of the cliff must have collapsed there. Rebuilding the footbridge or a simple rope bridge would make it possible to rehabilitate this old trail. Try to imagine the layout of the old path going up to Aiguines through the rocky bars… And even more, imagine the former boxwood cutters walking this trail with their loads. But that’s another story!
The ascent to the belvedere of Mayreste
Our adventure ends with the ascent to the Route de la Palud. We take a very old mule track for about 45 minutes. The trail rises very quickly and the second part is challenging after the energy expended during the day. When we reach the small meadow by the roadside, we smile again. We leave the Fernée Canyon with the feeling of returning to the civilized world!
We all have in mind these images of turquoise water, rocks with magical shapes and also this picnic on this beach of La Fernée which seems inaccessible.
Canyoneering La Fernée is an adventure, perhaps “a little” adventure for some but surely unforgettable for all!
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Do you want to live this adventure? You may check here the available dates for this canyon and book.
You can also consult our articles on the canyon of Saint-Auban, the canyon of the Baou at La Palud sur Verdon . Find all the canyons of the Verdon in our article presenting the different canyons and the aquatic hike.