The Gorges du Verdon Canyon

Go down the Gorges Verdon

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(Verdoun in Occitan Provençal of Mistralian standard ) is a French river which rises at the foot of the Tête de la Sestrière , between the Col d'Allos and the Pic des Trois-Évêchés , and flows into the Durance , near Vinon -on-Verdon ,

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The ecological balance of the river is however strongly affected by the hydroelectric works of the Verdon itself, but also of the Durance. These prevent the return of anadromous species such as salmon or eels, and fragment the populations of other species.

In addition, the control of the flow limits the solid transport and the remodeling of the bed of the floods of small and medium amplitude. The increase in 2012 of the flows reserved downstream of the Chaudanne and Gréoux reservoirs, however, made it possible to improve the dynamism of the aquatic ecosystems of the Verdon.

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The white-footed crayfish, formerly present in all rivers in the watershed, has seen its distribution area sharply reduced following the introduction of exotic species, more competitive, and sometimes healthy carriers of aphanomycosis (or crayfish plague ).

It is nevertheless still present on certain tributaries.

From a vegetal point of view, the riparian forest of Verdon presents very varied facies, between Alpine and Mediterranean influences.

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The pronounced green color of Verdon is due to fluorine and the microalgae it contains. However, in the dam lakes (Sainte-Croix lakes or Quinson reservoir, in particular), its waters have a turquoise color due to the clayey bottoms.

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Gorges du Verdon

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The Verdon valley was inhabited by the Gallic people of the Verguni .

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The Verdon gorges do not attract the attention of travelers until late. The first printed descriptions date from the turn of the 15th, 3rd and 10th centuries, but remain rare (one in 1782, another in 1804). Despite the development of sensitivity to natural beauties and the vogue for romanticism , they only notice a cut and do not linger in the description of a site accessible only by mule tracks . The gorges only become known with the description made by Élisée Reclus in 1879, and the dissemination of tourist guides (Joanne guides in particular from 1877, Tourist guide to Provence, Baedeker guide ) during the Belle Époque .

The gorges are mapped by the Cassini ( 1770s ) and the king's geographers in 1778.

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It is Martel who leads the first expedition to descend from end to end the Verdon canyon (see Martel trail ); this canyon expression is also his. Tourism develops slowly in the years 1880 - 1900 : the road is difficult and dangerous, the infrastructures (hotels, restaurants, roads, paths) rare and not very comfortable. In addition, the main means of transport at the time, the railroad , stopped at Saint-André-les-Alpes , which made it necessary to hire cars to come and see the gorges.

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In the 1890s (and until the 1920s), retention projects making the canyon navigable saw the light of day. The first development dates from 1906: the Touring club de France (TCF) traces a path that leads down into the gorges. The first tourist boom in the gorges dates from the end of the 1920s and the 1930s, under the impetus of the TCF: press campaign from 1928, journeys of discovery, report broadcast in the cinema, visit of British journalists. This promotion was supplemented by new works in 1929 and 1930: improvement of the viability of the road, at the initiative and partly on TCF funds, development of belvederes (of which the Sublime Point is the most remarkable), encouragement to local transport companies to increase the number of services, development of new trails inaugurated in June 1930, finally creation of the Malines refuge in 1936. These efforts attract a few thousand tourists each year.

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The site has become a protected natural site since May 7 , 1990 .

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Climbing in the Gorges du Verdon

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The Gorges du Verdon are a world famous climbing site, which has more than 2,500 climbing routes on good limestone rock, in an often aerial (vertiginous) atmosphere.

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The escalation in grooves starts in summer 1968 with the opening in 4 days of big way Tough (300m, 6b +) by four climbers which Patrick Cordier then Demand (1968, 320 m, 6a) with François Guillot and the frequentation of climbers from Nice and Provence.

But the practice developed especially in the 1980s, with the rise of sport climbing in France and the permanent equipment of many routes.

Climbing in the gorges is publicized in the specialized press and revealed to the general public in documentaries, such as those by Jean-Paul Janssen : Overdon (1980) which presents the climber Patrick Berhault and Opéra vertical (1982) which reveals the climber Patrick Edlinger . The gorges thus became the major sport climbing site in France, and even in Europe, during the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s.

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The frequentation of the site decreases later, with the fashion for other styles of climbing (short routes, cant) and the rise of other sites in France ( Buoux , Ceüse ) and in Europe (Spanish cliffs). In recent years, certain routes have been prohibited to protect the nesting of recently reintroduced vultures.

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Canyoning and Rafting in the Gorges du Verdon

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