Planning a trip to the Verdon Gorge with a motorhome, campervan or camping car? It's one of the most incredible places to visit in France, but you need to be very careful which route you take! Here's everything you need to know.
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The Gorges du Verdon, France
First things first- the Gorges du Verdon is the French term for Verdon Gorge. Don't be expecting signs to ‘Verdon Gorge'- it will always be ‘Gorges du Verdon'.
The Gorges du Verdon is the ‘Grand Canyon of Europe' and it's one of the most spectacular places we've ever visited during all our years of motorhoming in France.
Driving the Gorges du Verdon
The gorge runs from west-east and there are two roads which go along it- the Northern road and the Southern road.
The south side of the gorge is two way, and this is the road recommended to larger vehicles, like motorhomes.
The north side is mostly one way- from East to West- but it is apparently much tougher for motorhomes due to overhanging rocks. The northern road is two-way near the west, but not for long.
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Gorges du Verdon Driving Map and Route planner
Here's the map of the route we took from the motorhome aire at Moustiers-Sainte-Marie to Castellane. This route is the south side of the gorge (step-by-step driving directions are below.
Verges du Gordon Road Trip facts
Length of road: 70km for south side route from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie to Castellane
Estimated time to drive: According to Google Maps, 1h and 38 minutes. But that's optimistic, especially if it's busy. I'd allow at least 2 hours- and that's without stopping for photos or lunch.
Number of bends: Many, especially on the way up near Aiguilles. Along the top is fairly straightforward.
Suitable for: all vehicles (except ones which don't like high mountain passes!), including motorhomes, buses, motorbikes, cars and campervans. It's not recommended for caravans or vehicles with trailers due to the sharp bends. Having said that, we are a 6.7m motorhome with a trailer and we were fine.
Ok for inexperienced/ nervous drivers? I'd recommend going very early in the morning, before the traffic starts.
Open all year? Not necessarily. As I write this in February 2021, the south side is open (due to low snowfall in the area), but the north side is closed.
Watch the video of driving the Gorges du Verdon with a motorhome
If you'd like to see the video of us driving the Verdon Gorge in our motorhome, here you go:
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How to get to the Verdon Gorge
The Verdon Gorge is located in the South of France, not far from Nimes, St Tropez or Nice. It's easy enough to find if you're driving and it's pretty well signposted. We popped it into our motorhome sat-nav and the route was quite straightforward.
We were coming from Pont du Gard and Nimes (to the west), so this is the route we took (and the one I recommend with a motorhome or large campervan.)
1- Leave the A51 at Cadarache and head towards Gréoux-les-Bains.
2- From here, we wanted to turn onto the D315 and do the little windy road, but there had been heavy rains and the road was closed due to rockfalls, so we continued on the main road to the overnight motorhome aire at Moustiers- Ste-Marie. We stayed overnight here for 6€. Weather improved luckily!
Driving the south road Gorges du Verdon with a camping car or motorhome (step-by-step)
1- Next morning, start EARLY. This is not a drive you want to do when it's busy. Leave the aire and head SE.
2- VERY IMPORTANT- do NOT turn left at the roundabout onto the D952 (it becomes one way and it's almost impossible to turn a motorhome around). Continue on the D957 (straight over the roundabout).
3- Stop at the Pont du Galetas photo spot. Due to the bad weather, the water was mud- coloured when we were there, but it's supposed to look like this:
4- From here, continue over the bridge (still heading south) and turn left onto the D19 towards Aiguines. You'll start climbing upwards almost immediately- enjoy the views as you get higher and higher. Go through several small villages and Aiguines. Just after the village, turn left onto the D71- this is the Gorge Road ‘proper'- the southern side.
5- You'll be pleased to know, it's now pretty much impossible to get lost. There are some tight hairpin corners, but it's not too bad with a motorhome. The road starts with no real views but I promise it gets better!
6- Eventually, you'll get pretty much to the top of the pass and you'll get your first glimpse of the gorge. This is one of those times that the person on the right side of the vehicle loses out (if you're in a right-hand-drive motorhome, you'll be by the wall, which probably helps to drive. Just keep an eye out for low overhangs and rock falls- we had several to navigate around. This is still a 2-way road, so expect the odd bus or other motorhome coming the other way- you might want to use your horn on particularly sharp hidden bends.
7- There are a couple of places where you can pull in and take photos. These are NOT overnight camping spots (there is no wild camping allowed in the Verdon Gorge national park) but you can pull in for a quick photo or two.
READ MORE: How we go wild camping with a motorhome in France
Don't block the road- if you have a larger motorhome or if you're towing, you might not be able to fit into many of them.
Gorges du Verdon Hotel
8- There is a Hotel (the Hotel Grand Canyon du Verdon) right on the edge of the gorge which has a huge parking area and also a cafe and facilities (when they're open.) This is where we parked up to get some drone shots and get closer to the gorge. It had taken us about 2 hours from the bridge by the aire to here (because we stopped a lot for photos!)
VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT: Keep a tight hold on kids/ dogs/ wayward wives (like me ?) There is no barrier. At all. There's a warning sign, which is easy to walk past, and then the next thing is a huge drop. Please be careful. As someone who loves getting too close to the edge, I gave my husband a heart attack- as you can see in the video!)
9- Continue down the D71. When you cross the big bridge, pull into the car park just up on the left. From there, walk down to the viewing platform- it's spectacular (that's in the video too)
10- And then the gorge drive is pretty much over. There are plenty of campsites nearby to stay (see below for where we went)
How long does it take to drive down the Gorges du Verdon?
All in all, it took us about 3 hours to drive down the southern side in our motorhome. That includes photo stops and a quick bacon sandwich! That doesn't include the extra half hour to get to our campsite.
How scary is it to drive?
If you're a fairly confident driver and are used to driving in mountains with sharp bends, you'll be absolutely fine. If you've never driven a motorhome or large vehicle before- this could be a challenge. Go slowly and take out as much extra motorhome insurance as you can- just in case you scrape something!
Gorges du Verdon Camping
There are plenty of campsites for motorhomes, camping cars, caravans and campers near to the Verdon Gorge.
Want to find good places to stay overnight with your camper?
Sometimes, it's helpful to see places people have already stayed overnight in their van. Places that you know are good.
So, we've put together a list (with map) of 250+ places around the UK & Europe we've stayed at overnight with our motorhome.
We chose to stay at an aire called Castellane. It was a nice enough site, although I wouldn't call it an aire as it had a reception and owners who lived on site. The owner's dogs were a bit of a pain as they wouldn't leave our dog alone, but the fresh bread we ordered for the morning was delicious. We liked it so much we stayed for 2 nights.
Don't miss the chance to walk to the nearby lake- the colour of the water is incredible and it's a great place for the dogs to run and swim.
Other routes around the Gorges du Verdon
We loved driving the road next to the gorge, but if you want a road with incredible photo opportunities, take the D955 up past the Lac du Castillon. This is where the photo below was taken and the entire route was incredible (although, full disclosure, this is also the place where we discovered our motorhome was on fire… literally!) Read more about our motorhome fire here.