We finished our breakfast and were now ready to explore. The gorge is known as one of the premiere hiking places in Provence. We selected a hiking trail to complete later in the afternoon but first decided to drive the loop around the gorge.
From Riez we drove in the direction of Moustiers-Ste.-Marie. The village, one of the most photographed in the region, seats on a steep hill below a rocky cliff. The town center is only accessible by foot, and several parking areas surround it. During peak tourism season, the village can be over crowded, and difficult to access.
We continued our drive towards the town of Aiguines, and followed the south side of the Canyon all the way to Trigance. The best views of the gorge are between road D71 and D23. The narrow winding road follow the canyon. It is extremely difficult to stop on this side of the circuit to take the view. Most of the stopping areas are small with room for two or three cars only. Luckily we were not there during prime tourism season, so we were able to enjoy the drive. We found a little Auberge on the road with a terrace overlooking the Canyon. The food was nothing special, but the view was worth the stop. We then cross on the north side of the Canyon towards La Palud sur Verdon. From there we took the D23 loop to return to the gorge. For part of the way, the road hangs precariously to the side of the canyon. There are a number of dramatic viewing spots, however it must be taken in a clockwise direction, as a section in the middle is a one-way road. With less traffic on this loop, stopping was easier than on the other part of the circuit. From La Palud, it was then an easy drive back to Moutiers. The D952 road offers more spectacular views of the gorge and down to the Azure waters of the Lac de Saints Croix.
Hiking was another objective for this day and there are plenty of opportunities and trails around the gorges du Verdon to do so, varying in difficulties. Since we had spent most of the day on the road, we found ourselves with less time than expected. However, we still had enough time to take a hike to the “Belvedere de Treguier”, a three-mile tour round trip from Moutiers. The trail can be found on the top of the village by the Chapelle Saints-Anne. It first follows the cemetery wall, and after a few intersections, the trail begins. It follows the rocky cliff and large fields of olive trees. The first part of the trail is easy, but gets more difficult the closer we got to the top. After a 30 minutes walk we arrived to the peak of the Belvedere de Treguier. The access to the high point is technical and not recommended if you are afraid of heights or do not have the proper footing, but the view of the Lac de Saints Croix and the Ravin D’Angouire is magnificent.
When we got back to town, we still had time to kill before dinner, so we took the hike to Notre dame de Beauvoir, and was worth the 20 minutes trek up the stairs. The church is nestled high above the town. The steepness and awkward cobblestone steps can make this hike challenging, but again, the views are stunning from the top.
We finish the day with a quiet stroll through the village and dined at one of the recommended restaurant from our host at the Hotel des Colonnes in Riez.
Another successful day!