D952, Gorges du Verdon, France
The Gorges du Verdon, also known as the Grand Canyon du Verdon, is a river that has worn itself into the impressive mountain land of the French Provence over thousands and thousands of years. It belongs to one of the deepest rifts in Europe and the steep rock faces reach heights of up to 800 yards.
Northwest of the Verdon lies the beautiful, medieval village of Moustiers Sainte Marie, where we start our drive along the north side of the river. The D952 as it’s called, does not start here, but more to the west in Saint Paul les Durance.
From Moustiers onward signs will lead you to the Gorges du Verdon. The D952 starts to twist and turn right away, and coming out of the woods you will spot the beautiful blue lake of Saint Croix on your right-hand side, into which the Verdon flows.
Many astonishing views, hairpins and fast corners await, and after a while you will arrive in the small village of La Palude sur Verdon, which is located halfway along the rift on the northern part. From there, an entertaining extra loop can be taken, called the Route des Cretes, also known as the D23.
It’s a narrow, twisting road with nonstop epic views of the south side of the rift and the blue Verdon river. If you are lucky enough, you can spot the vultures flying high in the skies in this area. Be warned, though, because this drive is not for the weak-hearted among us.
The guard rails, or guard walls so to say, are only about a foot high and the drops are dizzyingly high. Rock debris that falls down the mountain can be found around any corner, so keep a keen eye out for that. The D23 takes you back to the village of La Palude, and from there the journey down the D952 can be continued.
The route goes all the way up to Castellane, but we take the D955, which leads south to the small village of Trigance, and from there on to Comps sur Artuby, and Draguignan, bringing you closer to the Mediterranean Sea.
You will not be disappointed if you go for this option, as about an hour’s drive later you will arrive in the beautiful town of Saint Tropez from this area. It’s pure driving heaven.