LOCATIONS OF THE SHOOTING
The film-shooting took 30 days. You will discover the shooting locations through our photo collection. Enter the heart of the Verdon canyons, day-by-day.
Find the making-of-the-film and the map «Discover the most beautiful locations of the film» on our on-line shop, at the Ecociné Verdon, and at our partners.
SHOOTING ON THE MARTEL PATH
A one month journey in the Verdon : the beginning of a real epic adventure, along with our large shooting team, composed of 25 amazing people, three rafts and no less than two tons of equipment ! The shooting began in the “couloir Samson”, then we oved to the “Baume aux pigeons”, to the Mescla… And some other classic locations along the path of Blanc-Martel. Just before revealing the secrets of the Verdon, we made a quick stop to the Imbut…
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO IN THE VERDON ?
We are going to shoot a 3D film and we decided to take you with us on the amaing journey, day after day !
THE BAUME AUX PIGEONS
UNDER THE TUNNELS OF THE MARTEL PATH
When you wander through the Martel path tunnels, an opening on the side of the roc gives you access to a lookout area. It offers you an amazing panoramic view over the Baume aux Pigeons. In the past, stairs craved in the rocks permitted to go down directly to the Verdon. Nowadays, you’ll need a guide to lead you down there, unless you’re a confirm mountaineer.
Our actors had to take an inevitable swim of training. Unfortunately for them, the water of the Verdon isn’t very warm !
Every summer in the Baume aux pigeons takes place the most famous aquatic hike of the Verdon: it’s magnificent and nearly everyone can access it. But as magnificent as it can be, we’re far from the wild beauty the secret side of the Verdon has to offer ! Contact us if you’re interested in this kind of journey !
TUNNELS OF MARTEL PATH
THE SAMSON CORRIDOR
Your discovery of the Verdon can’t be fully complete until you’ve visited one of those tunnels. To enter the canyon, you’ll have to cross no less than one kilometer of tunnels. Going this way will permit us to discover the Baume of Pigeons (cf. Day 2) where several kayakers sank through the years.
But there is an alternative to walking: going down the water ! You’ll have to follow the Samson Corridor. This aquatic path got its name from the Giant drawn on the cliff, which you can see from the Sublime lookout point. Neoprene suits and a tight supervisory are essential to visit this side of the canyon at high tide. Otherwise, it is a beautiful and really easily negotiable path for families at low tide.
Which wasn’t the case during our shooting, our heroes being shaken all around the place due to the impressive and dangerous flow.
MARTEL PATH AND LA MESCLA
GETTING TO LA MESCLA ON THE TURQUOISE VERDON
La Mescla (“mix” in Provençal) designes the mix betwen the Verdon and the Artuby, a location to discover following the Martel Path.
Located halfway through the Martel Path and the Maline refuge, La Mescla creates a natural pool of turquoise water. It makes a great location to rest for a while in this 6-7 hours hike. If you want to get to la Mescla, do not forget to take enough drinkable water with you, since you won’t find any on your way. It is recommended to begin the Martel path route by the Maline refuge, it’ll take you 2 hours from there to reach La Mescla.
THE MARTEL PATH BETWEEN LA MESCLA AND LE PRE D’ISSANE
MARTEL CROSSED THIS PART OF THE CANYON IN TWO DAYS
Nowadays it only takes a 6 or 7 hours hike to cross the Martel path and discover the first side of the Canyon (which is about 14km long). The Movie “Verdon Secret” gives a whole new perspective of this path, thanks to drones and 3D cameras. The stairs of the Imbert gap is the first and main technical difficulty of this branch of the Martel path. No less than 80 meters of highly steep steps were built for the hikers to cross the breach. The movie shows how hard the labourers worked under the aegis of the Touring Club the France, year 1928. Those stairs were given a restoration not too long ago, which took about 6 months.
WHAT TO DO FIRST: WATCH THE MOVIE OR CROSS THE MARTEL PATH ?
We don’t have any answer to this obscure question. But one thing is sure: you should do both ! The movie goes way beyond the path, allowing the spectators to discover a whole new point of view they couldn’t have by hiking through it. In every ways, the beautiful photography of the movie (aquatic and aerial) confirms Martel’s words: “You’d have to cross the canyon a hundred times to dare establish you know it.”.
THE INBUT PATH
CAN YOU FIND THE DRONE ?
The Inbut path (or Vidal path) is one of the toughest crossings of the Verdon. It’s also one of the wildest and it requires a great appreciation of mountain hiking. All the informations about the different paths and their level of difficulty can be found on the Verdon hiking paths map.
THE FIRST EXPLORTION OF VERDON BY CANOE
MARTEL AND BLANC MADE IT THROUGH THE FIRST DESCENT
August 1905. Alfred Martel and Isidore Blanc, along with a whole team of explorers, achieved the very first descent of the canyon by canoe. For the sake of the movie, we reproduced the characters, and even the canoes themselves (which weren’t the same by Martel’s time). In line with Jules Vernes’s adventures, Martel also immortalized many of his masterstrokes in books and memoirs. “La France ignorée”, released in 1928, narrates his whole Verdon journey, along with the dangers of the canyon and the discoveries he made. The Berton, the Osgood along with plans we found back thanks to the Martel association enabled us to reconstitute the canoes the most accurately we could. Jean-Marc Blanche, architect of La Palud-sur-Verdon, built the replicas used in the shooting of the movie.
VERDON CANYON : IT ALL STARTS WITH A MEETING
BAUCHET BEACH UPSTREAM FROM THE STYX
In the movie “Verdon Secret”,young Hidalgo decides to follow Martel’s pace and recreate his journey, 100 years later. He builds his canoe himself, a perfect replica of the one used by is hero. The meeting takes place on this little beach located about 3 hours from the Imbut path. For the lovers of the Gorges du Verdon, you can discover more of this place by following this link.
BAUCHET BEACH BY THE VERDON
SHOOTING UPSTREAM FROM THE STYX
Many of the scenes from the movie were filmed on beautiful beaches alongside the Verdon, and we can’t mention them without talking about Bauchet Beach. You can swim there peacefully and safely, but it’s not the case for all the site. Bathing in the Verdon is highly regulates, since many of the locations are dangerous. There are nevertheless splendid beaches and cricks where bathing is allowed.
(During the shooting, one of our machinists hurt his ankle and got a minor sprain walking on this pebble beach. We had to evacuate him by helicopter, since the site is pretty craggy.)
The day after that, our drone gave up on us after dust hurled by the helicopter got stuck in the mechanism. Our gear is more confortable in studios and drone driver behind their computers. François Bertrand then decided to change the shooting planning and moved directly to the storm scene.
Get warn. Hiking on the Verdon isn’t entirely safe, since the water levels depend on several dams upstream. You need to check with professionals before planning to hike or go down the Verdon by canoe. Sometimes, the beautiful turquoise water turns into an ugly flood of mud and drives the fords impracticable. Even downstream, where the Martel path meets the Saint-Croix lake, the water rises fast and covers easily the pebble beaches. Thanks to EDF and the convention we had with them, we were able to shoot several overflooding scenes for the movie. You can find infos about the security on the site via the map we mentioned above.
TEN KAYAKERS TO SUPERVISE THE SHOOTING
This amazing shooting wouldn’t have been possible without William Michel, guide and kayaker, who gathered a whole team of experimented people to help us. In 2014, we were all ready to start the shooting of the film. But we had to cancel due to the poor quantity of water in the Verdon. It was impossible for us to navigate our rafts, since we needed at least 10m3/sec of water.
Our making-of (only available in French at the moment) was nominated for the Barcelonette mountains film, since it’s a perfect representation of the dangers in this type of shootings.
STYX LESSER CANYON
ONE OF THE HARDEST PASTWAYS OF THE VERDON
As named by Alfred Martel himself, the Styx pathway is one of the most impressive ones, due to the rapids and the cave that sucks the Verdon up. It’s also a goal for an unforgettable hike through the canyon (only to be crossed with professionals). You can’t raft there or use any pedalo, rapids are too dangerous and there are cliffs everywhere. For many people, it’s an achievement to get to the Styx by foot, it represents a whole amazing journey of few hours. And yet… It’s just one of the incredible sites to Verdon has to offer.
The Imbut path will lead you to the Styx and its secondary canyon, along with the dark and yet impressive cave. This lass hides a deep cavity in the cliff, in which Martel’s boat was sucked up. If you like to exercice, you can cross this part of the Verdon by water, supervised by competent guides.
It is called the Floating. You put a neoprene suit on, along with a backpack full of air and you let yourself being dragged down the river, feet first. Roger Verdeggen invented this practice, who also was the first to organize a whole descent of the Gorges, year 1970. By the time, this kind of expedition was a two-day long journey with a bivouac organized in l’Estellié. Nowadays, you can try it from two hours to a whole day but rare are the people who dare make the whole descent.
THE BLOCKS CHAOS OF THE IMBUT
THE HIKING OF IMBUT
Unmissable hike of the Verdon, the blocks chaos of the Imbut shows the end of the Imbut path. The Verdon goes underground to reappear no less than 300km downstream !
Planning a hike in the Imbut requires some preliminary expertise. First of all, the easiest descent takes place on the knights cliff, next to the Verdon Grand Canyon hotel, on the left bank. The path in well indicated and had been fully restored in 2018. Some crossings are still impressive but don’t require any specific gear. This hike enables the discovery of the Styx and ends at the blocks chaos of the Imbut. The blocks can be crossed with a quick and easy climb and leads to the Baou Béni (cf.pictures).
For the first time, a 3D film reveals the inside of those blocks ! Magnificent and impressive, you discover in 3D a cathedral craved by the Verdon itself and know by a little few ! Supervised by professionals, you can visit this cathedral by Floating and swimming.
CREW CAMP AT THE BAOU BÉNI CLOSE TO THE IMBUT
THE BAOU BÉNI
The Imbut path ends at this place, the Baou Béni. From this spot, the Verdon becomes impracticable, unless you’re a kayaker or an expert in climbing. Beyond, the Verdon Secret reveals itself, a path of 10km long to join the old Mayreste footbridge: turquoise water and big emotions are expected from here.
INTO THE RIDGE OF THE LOOKOUT POINT: THE ANCIENT BUXUS PICKER’S PATHS
AN ODD HIKE IN THE VERDON
All the climbing scenes from the movie had been filmed in this ridge. This spot is well known of the climbers, less of the hikers. This dizzying path was crossed centuries ago by the buxus pickers, wo used to go down the Gorges looking for box trees in order to manufacture pétanque balls.
That is indeed a path that used to be traveled through centuries ago that crosses this enormous cliff. The pickers’s ateliers were built on-site in order to make the firt transofrmations of the wood. It enabled them to reduce de quantity of wood to transport through the Gorges.
You can discover the wooktuner’s hard work thanks to the dedicaded museum located in Aiguines.
SEA OF CLOUDS ABOVE THE GORGES
LA PALUD SUR VERDON: LOOKOUT POINT OF THE DENT D’AIRE
When the temperature difference between day and night reach its paroxysm, a really singular kind of sea appears: the Sea of Clouds. It usually happens at the end of the year, mid November to December. This phenomenon is actually 100% scientific: the water of the Sainte-Croix lake stays hot and when it’ brought face to face with the cold air of the night; it engages a whole condensation process. The temperature of air in La-Palud-sur-Verdon gets warmer than the one above the lake. And, during the night, a huge fog emerges and go up the Gorges, creating tthis splendid and famous sea of clouds. The lookout point of La Carelle and the one from la Dent d’Aires are the best spots to witness this phenomenon.
It’s in the Fall, in the morning, that you’ll be able to attend this wonderful sight that could be part of a fairy tale movie.
La Dent d’Aires is also a fabulous spot the observe the Griffon Vultures flights and appears to be the location of the last sequences from our movie.
ONE OF OUR RAFT OVERTURN, IT WAS FULL OF GEARS
Despite the huge supervision surrounding our shooting, one of our raft overtuned in the rapids. It cut all of our contacts with the outside and let us on our own to keep on shooting the scenes. We take a long time to talk about it in the “Making of” of the movie.
Behind the Baou Béni, the Verdon crosses about 10km of wild and dangerous land to join the Mayreste footbridge. Unfortunately, no paths allow to explore this section of the Verdon (yet, maybe).
Many pathways created beautfiful memories on the kayakers’ minds, thanks to the incredible views and feelings the Verdon has to offer. The Emerald vault, the Main Morte canyon or the one from the Ferney are good exemples of wonderful and pretty unknown sites. Kayakers are many to talk about the Molosses rapids, the Cavalets or even the Curtain pathway, which are incredible spots for adventurers and lovers of risks. If you want to discover another secondary canyon, we highly recommend the Marble Hallway.