Gorges du Verdon

Apr 20th, 2007, 03:28 PM
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Gorges du Verdon

Sorry if this is longwinded but I think I may get better feedback if I explain where Iím coming from. Followers of recent postings on this forum will know my wife & I are planning to drive from Paris to Nice including (among much else) the Gorges du Verdon. This was to be in Sep-Oct, which appealed because weíd be heading into the warmer south as the season cooled off.

It now may happen in Apr-May instead, and Iím thinking we should reverse our direction so as to delay the cooler northern parts until the season warms a bit, and also to have the sun at our backs while driving. But hereís the problem: Iím prone to vertigo, and the new direction would put us on the outer (cliff-edge) side of the Corniche Sublime through the Gorges du Verdon.

It might be helpful if I explained just what is a problem and what isnít. Iím fine on high, hilly, winding roads so long as Iím not forced to the very edge and so long as thereís a visible barrier (trees, shrubs, fence, block wall) of reasonable height (as high as the tyres on my car perhaps?) between me and oblivion. Where I strike problems is when there is no substantial barrier and when Iím forced to the very edge by traffic coming the other way. Hence doing the trip from Moustiers-Ste-Marie to Comte-díArtuby I wasnít worried about, because oncoming traffic would force me to the inner edge rather than the outer edge of the road. But not so in the reverse direction.

Iíve searched for photos, but they are inconclusive. Some show a reasonably wide road with a solid (but low) stone wall barrier. Others (admittedly longer-distance shots with the detail unclear) show a narrow road snaking along a high canyon edge with a hair-raising drops below. Iím sure there are fodorites out there who know the road, and some of whom may even have a similar phobia to mine, who can give me a better guide on this.

Another option Iíve considered is approaching Moustiers via Castellane and branching off on the round-trip Route des Cretes for my ďgorgeĒ experience. I understand this road may be narrower than the Corniche Sublime, but that it is one-way traffic only, which means I can hug the side away from the cliff-edge without having to move for oncoming traffic. Am I right about this? And is the Route des Cretes as good scenically as the Corniche Sublime?

As an aside, searching travel guides for answers to these questions has been illuminating (or not) to say the least. For instance, the Rough Guide to Provence recommends my reverse-direction route and explains why (the sudden ďwowĒ impact of approaching the Canon de la Mescla from the east). This is helpful, even if it doesnít solve my particular dilemma. Rick Steves on the other hand (and I usually find him quite helpful), says the Corniche Sublime (as opposed to the Route des Cretes) ďworks better for mostĒ. What does that mean? Is he talking scenery, or traffic or something else? Itís a staggeringly uninformative, and therefore unhelpful, remark to find in an Information Guide.

Hoping someone can give better descriptions of the two roads to help my decision. I realise that whichever direction I choose Iíll be on the other side of the road in the Gorges du Tarn later (or earlier) in our trip, but Iím assuming this is less vertiginous than the Gorges du Verdon.

twoflower is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 07:05 AM
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The Route des Cretes is the scariest drive we've ever been on. No guard rails or anything when we were there 5-7 years ago. I think it's one-way in summer, so there's no turing around if you're not half way. Can't imagine two-way traffic.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 04:49 PM
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We drove from Nice to St. Remy through the Gorges last October. It was a beautiful drive, but somewhat nerve wracking for me. My husband is an excellent driver and we've driven on a regular basis in some of the most dangerous areas of the world..NYC, London and Paris rush hour traffic, and this drive was a tad to on the edge for me. We followed advice from Stu and and others which was very helpful, but I wouldn't make this drive again. However, the driver feels differently and says is wasn't that bad. To each his/her own. Good luck!
djsteach is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 05:01 PM
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All I can say is the Gorges du Verdon is tame compared to the time I ended up on one of those Michelin dotted-line roads (which I now know mean dangerous!), face to face with one of those extra-wide vehicle convoys!
StCirq is online now  
Apr 21st, 2007, 05:08 PM
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We're in our 70s and loved the ride along the Verdon as we do other places. Th Millau bridge some feared. I'm going across it again this year.
cigalechanta is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 05:09 PM
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Is Route des Cre on the route from Paris to Nice and back? Anyway to avoid?
julzieluv is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 09:45 PM
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Thanks everyone. On the strength of Stu Dudley's remarks (the scariest drive he's ever been on; no guard-rails etc) I'll definitely delete the Route des Cretes as an option. Will risk the Corniche Sublime on the strength of photos I've seen showing a 2-way road with (at least a low) guard-rail. I can only hope it's that wide all the way, and that there's not too much oncoming traffic.
Julzieluv - no, there are many ways of driving Paris-Nice, and the Route des Cretes is only a side-trip off of one of them. Easily avoided if you want - as indeed I will be doing!
twoflower is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 09:55 PM
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Twoflower, I have done the Gorges du Verdon once - also the outer edge - and will never do it again. For us it was just too much. I always envy the people who say how beautiful it is and how they enjoyed it. For us it was a nightmare!
chiarachiara is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 10:18 PM
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Chiarachiara - Oh dear! Should I revert to my original plan of travelling from Moustiers to Comte-Artuby so I'll be on the inner edge of the road? Or do you think that might be just as scary?

The only reason I considered doing it in the other direction was because our whole trip takes in UK and France, and my wife would rather leave the English-speaking part for the end (it's always worked well for us before) which meant starting at Nice and travelling north.
twoflower is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2007, 04:07 AM
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Hi, I drove from St. Remy to Cannes via the Gorges du Verdon two years ago in early May. Although my hotelier recommended against it as a thunderstorm was forecast I had planned to go and decided to continue on anyways. Bad decision. It was raining lightly when we started and then turned into hail and freezing rain unfortunately half way through so we couldn't turn around. Very scary as many others were driving fast as if it was a beautiful day and I was crawling along! All to say, I wouldn't drive this route again unless the forecast was for clear weather. Also, although it was beautiful, I did not personally find it spectacular and it was a very long drive and stressful drive because of the weather. I hope you get a beautiful day for your drive. Have fun!

CanadaDi is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2007, 05:57 AM
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No Twoflower - do not listen to me! Maybe you will find it better. There is at least a low (very low) built wall at the outer edge. I would feel safer on the inner side of the road.
chiarachiara is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2007, 06:29 AM
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I always rent as small a car as possible, even when it huffs and puffs its way up hills. I feel completely safe in a small car on roads like the route des Crêtes. When I have to drive a larger car at oncoming trucks, I find it much scarier.
kerouac is online now  
Apr 23rd, 2007, 06:39 AM
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We drove the Route de Crete last year. There are a number of "outlooks" and places you can turn around or park to get out and take in the view. It was two lanes both of good size. We felt quite safe and it was spectacular. It was less unerving than driving from the Dordogne to the Ardeche - that was scarry!
jengoestofrance is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2007, 10:19 PM
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Quite a range of views here - some even find the Route des Cretes OK. I guess I'll just have to give it a go and hope it works out OK. A couple of comments in this thread (Dordogne to Ardeche, the bridge at Millau) prompt me to ask are there any other parts of the trip I should worry about? The Dordogne, the Lot region around Conques and Estaing, the Gorges du Tarn, for example?
twoflower is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 06:43 AM
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I've traveled over all those routes, and only a zig-zag/switcback section of the Gorges du Tarn going from La Malene is a scary as the Route des Cretes. You can enjoy the Gorges du Tarn & not travel on this switchback section.

Just to make sure everyone knows what the Routes des Cretes is, you can circle the entire Gorges du Verdun and not travel on the section that's called the Route du Cretes. When we were there, the Route was one-way (clockwise) with no guard rails. Pt Sublime is not on the Route du Cretes.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Apr 27th, 2007, 08:28 AM
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Ah my mistake!

There is also a Route de Crete that is in Cassis!

That's the Route de Crete that we drove!

jengoestofrance is offline  
Apr 28th, 2007, 08:22 PM
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If I recall, we were on the outer edge. My husband drove and I think what 'got' him was the drivers from the other direction wanted the middle of the road.
Actually the scariest drive to me was along the Lot river to St. Cirque La Popie because the cliffs (or whatever they were) overhung so much of the road.
hopingtotravel is offline  

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