It is no doubt that South of France is a must destination to visit especially in Summer time. I had been there once and stayed in Nice as well as visit Monaco with my friends. Now, it would be a total different kind of experience since Damar and I wanted to go for camping. We always wanted to go camping to see how we liked it and if so, to repeat it in the future. Both of us love nature so much, so we started from the friendly one. Camp in the Camping Site is a friendly step, note that it is not allowed to wild camp in Europe. Although, we met a few hitch hikers who did such, BUT only for a night.
The nature was jaw dropping and I literally had so many breath taking moment. Gorge du Verdon is located in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. It is a river canyon that is often considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe. The Gorges du Verdon is about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) long and up to 700 meters (2296.59 feet) deep. At the end of the canyon, the Verdon River flows into the man-made lake, the Lac de Sainte-Croix. The gorgeous turquoise-green color river.And oh! not forget to mention, the road trip via Napoleon route was a moment I would never forget.
Where to land?
We chose to fly to Nice, some people also goes to Marseille. More or less it takes around the same duration. We chose Nice because the flight was cheaper (obviously! :P). Why pay more, when it’s not more efficient?
*Please note that the map is only to show the duration, not necessarily the exact same route we took.
We intended to rent a car there in France. However, we had only a narrow option due to no credit card. None of the car rental would rent out their vehicles without a proof of ownership of credit card from the rider which is understandable. It is not a good example, but Damar finally found a way. He found the ‘snapcar‘ version of France, which is called ouicar. Knowing neither of us had no credit card, the owner was still letting us rent. I do think it’s against the rule of the company, but we were really lucky! Luckily also, we got a very cool car with open roof. We rode along the road feeling like a millionaire (just a little!).
So rent a car and arrange before your flight so you have a security once landed in terms of transportation. Public transportation is not recommended and it is quite difficult too to be flexible.
Here you can find some of options of car rental in France.
Road Trip and Route
Prepare yourself mentally and your photograph gear because this road trip would be one of the most beautiful car journey. It is one of the finest, most scenic and exciting mountain drives in the world. There is no other mountain road route of such duration and awesome beauty so rewarding to drive. Damar and I often gasped after making a turn, because what we saw next was more and more beautiful. At over 730M up we could see down into the gorge.
Source: http://www.alsgodinzuidfrankrijk.nl/nl/routes/la_route_napoleon. The Route Napoléon is the route taken by Napoleon in 1815 on his return from Elba.
Our pose on our way
Driving the Verdon Gorge puts the car on the mountainside of the road. Some people wonder whether or not it is safe to drive along side the mountain. From Damar’s perspective, it was not as scary as he thought, because with the narrow roads, there were still barriers on the cliff side. Just make sure that you stay in the road and be extra vigilant with other cars. Sometimes they who come from the opposite way do not want to share the road.
From people’s review, during Summer (end of Jun, Jul, Aug), there are usually traffic jam where cars are in line, so maybe avoid it? That is when the people with manual car is tested with their driving skill 😉 It’s worth every nail-biting moment though.
A MUST PASS ROAD: D71, D952
Skip to 2:00 to see how the view in the road.
Where to camp?
There are literally a lot of camping site options in this area. We went to ‘Camping La Source‘ that rates 28 euro plus 5 euro of electricity. We had no complains, customer service was so good, the sanitary was always controlled hence super duper clean. I would suggest to search a camp in the area of the lake. Our camp site was just 2 minutes (100 m) away from the beach lake. Most of the time it was more quiet than the main lake, so you could have your own quality time with yourself, partner or family.
The camp site had some entertainment options, they had kayak-canoe0-boat rental as well as table tennis. It’s the heaven of water sport and the camping provided your needs. Too bad we did not have chances to use the rental facility due to the time restrain and bad weather.
Tips: Bring your own dishes cleaning tools! And no need to take electricity if you only need it for your phone. You can do this in the reception.
A view 2 mins away from camping site
What to pack?
- During the period of September – October, the weather might be unstable. I did not really this coming because I assumed that South of France will still be relatively warm. During the day, sun was out but being in a shadow would make you chilled. And it could be windy as well which what happened in the 2nd day we were there. In that case always bring extra sweater, socks and some layers!!!!!
- Tent + sleeping bag
- Flip flop – for going to the toilet etc. Don’t bring the fancy expensive one as it would get wet
- Sneakers or mountain shoes
- Lunch or food box
- Reusable bottle
- Plastics for dirty clothes and bin
- Water, food, snacks, rice can be bought in the supermarket there
- Sunblock + swimsuit + sunglasses
- Stove + gas (in our case, we need the cable connector to connect French gas and Dutch stove)
Where to shop?
The campsite backs on to the village of Les Salles sur Verdon which means that campers can make use of the many shops (bakery, supermarket etc. ), restaurants and other service.
You can buy your groceries at 8 à Huit which is 3 minutes driving from the camping site.