The Gorges du Verdon
The largest canyon in Europe, the Gorges du Verdon sits between white rocks and emerald lakes, and is a choice destination for water-sports lovers with activities to suit any tastes. The tour of the Gorges passes by picturesque villages including Aups, a charming village renowned for its blacks truffle market. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is another beautiful village perched in the middle of two majestic rocky cliffs, criss-crossed by a mountain stream. Legend says that the knight of Blacas used a chain to hoist up a star hanging between the two walls of the rock, in order to thank the Virgin and to return home safely from the Crusades.
The star is said to still be watching over the heads of the inhabitants, glistening in the setting sun. Walking through the narrow streets and enjoying the magical atmosphere, you can visit the 15 ceramics workshops that became fashionable during the days of Louis XIV – the sovereign famously decided to replace the pottery and gold with the cheapest ceramics, in order to restore the finances of the court.
If you like walking you can visit the fourteenth-century Chapelle Notre-Dame de Beauvoir. This pretty little church clings to the side of the mountain, and can be reached via a steep path with 14 stations. Although a challenging route, those who reach the top will enjoy a magnificent view that extends to the Lac de Sainte-Croix and the opportunity to see the star of the knight of Blacas from up-close.
On the way back we recommend that you visit Tourtour, the highest village in the Var where you can enjoy a breathtaking view that sweeps from Toulon to Mont Ventoux. The village looks almost like a movie set, with its church on the hill and the Marie and post office in a chateau complete with turrets.