Absolutely mythical and unavoidable trail of the Gorges du Verdon, the Martel trail (or Blanc-Martel trail) is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful hikes in France (with the GR20, the Valley of Wonders, the creeks or the Mont Blanc Tour). So these are all the reasons why you should hike the Martel trail.
The “Martel trail” is a cocktail of tunnels, aerial ladders, views plunging into the void or vertical cliffs that dominate you.
It is also the departure point to the chalet of La Maline with its alpine refuge atmosphere, this turquoise water at La Mescla, and finally the arrival at the bar at the Auberge du Point Sublime.
After having visited it so many times, I will not be able to say if it is the greatest pleasure to be surrounded by this breathtaking nature or if it is to let friends discover it and later recall the memories of this extraordinary hike.
Martel trail journey time and Tips
Solid hiking shoes, or trail shoes, light backpack, two liters of water per person required in the summer.
Allow 6 to 7 hours for a family or group trip.
For children accustomed to hiking from 7 years old, it is a mountain trail.
The trail has been re-equipped in recent years and since then, most of the sensitive passages have been well protected.
You have to keep in mind that they are a limited number of loopholes and to take care of this path.
History of the Martel Trail
This trail was equipped by the Touring Club of France from 1926 to 1928.
It uses the tunnels of an old hydraulic project in its upstream part, crossed to a vertical breach by 80 meters of metal stairs and then goes up to the cottage of the Maline. The original trail was located under the roof and the TCF is nowhere near the road.
Edouard Alfred Martel traveled the entire Grand Canyon Verdon in 1905 with Isidore Blanc, a teacher in Rougon.
Several Paluards and Rougonese accompanied him in this adventure. In fact, some of the descendants of these explorers still live here.
To learn more, the movie Verdon Secret tells the story in 3D and on a giant screen every day in Greoux Les Bains.
The Martel is most often visited from the Maline cottage: indeed, the exit of the gorges is much easier after 5 or 6 hours of walking at the sublime point.
It is composed of 5 main sections:
– The descent from the cottage of the Maline to the Verdon
– The Issane meadow ( le pré d’Issane)
– La Mescla and the Imbert breach
– The Staircase
– Tunnels of the Samson corridor
The descent from Maline (about 45 minutes / one hour)
This first part has the advantage of starting with a nice descent and puts a particular strain on the knees.
I advise you to leave around 8:00 am in order to arrive with the sun at Verdon.
A fairly steep staircase leads to the steepest rocky passage.
Just before the stairs, you can admire the Estellié footbridge: this modern footbridge was rebuilt after the gigantic flood of 1978.
( see the path of the Imbut)
The Issane Meadow (2h30 to 3h00)
Then begins a long walk along the Verdon river that will allow you to admire several wineries.
The trail then crosses a characteristic stone path and then begins a steep ascent.
He then splits into two parts with a sign indicating “La Mescla”
The Mescla (3h30)
“Mescla” means the mixture in Provençal and refers to the mixture of the waters of the Verdon and the Artuby.
The Artuby gorges are less known because they are closed to the public at the Canjuers military camp.
On an excursion, however, you can admire the bridge from which bungee jumping is practiced!
To do the Martel without going to the Mescla would be a bit like going to Egypt without seeing the pyramids!
You would miss one of the most beautiful places in the Verdon.
To learn more about the Mescla, see the summary of the movie Verdon Secret .
The scales of the Imbert breach (4h30)
The Imbert breach is a 150-meter-high cliff with a cliff face that extends towards the Verdon and a natural barrier that must be crossed.
Upstream, the fairly steep path zigzag up to the top of the breach.
An 80-meter metal staircase has been installed in a rocky fault and allows passage.
We can not imagine how that metal staircase got there in 1928!
After descending the stairs, the trail continues its journey towards the cliffs of Escalès, a paradise for free climbing.
Samson Corridor Tunnels (6:00 am)
After an hour and a half of walking, you will reach the belvedere of the Trescaïre towers.
Do not confuse this viewpoint with the viewpoint located 400 meters higher on the ridge road.
It allows you to admire from the bottom of the gorges the cliff which dominates you from its 400 meters. Shortly after the lookout, you reach the first tunnel.
Further on, the second tunnel is almost a kilometer long and a flashlight will be useful.
After about 400 meters, the tunnel opens onto a window that lets you see the Verdon: the view is amazing on a gigantic balm: the Pigeon balm.
Further on, the path joins the road after the exit of the tunnels.
Once you reach the road, the path continues to reach the sublime point.
Where to take a shuttle to reach the Maline chalet?
I advise you to leave your car in the morning early at the sublime point and to have yourself taken by taxi to the Maline chalet.
Indeed, this solution will be waiting for you when you arrive at the sublime point.
At the Sublime point, the shaded terrace of the hostel “l’auberge du point Sublime” awaits you: settle in while waiting for the shuttle bus that will take you back to the cottage of the Maline.
To call the shuttle: TAXI VERDON (06 68 18 18 13 13)
Allow about 30 minutes to reach the Maline cottage.
To book a guide to the Martel Trail, visit our activity pages .