Take every manner of transport on this 10-day adventure trip. You'll cruise along the coast of Marseille, ride horses up to Sainte-Croix Lake, visit lavender fields, and tackle the Verdon Gorge by foot, river raft, and via cordata climb to take in the wild face of Europe's largest gorge.


  • Get hands-on with history in a Marseille soap atelier
  • Raft through the rapids in the Verdon Gorge
  • Inhale the fragrant aromatic plants of Verdon Regional Nature Park
  • Canyoneer down the depths of the Verdon Gorge

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Marseille Marseille
Day 2 Private Boat Cruise & Photography Workshop Marseille
Day 3 Soap Atelier, Transfer to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Day 4 Ride Horseback to Sainte-Croix Lake Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Day 5 Raft the Verdon River Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Day 6 Verdon Wildlife Photography Session Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Day 7 Visit Lavender Fields in Valensole Plateau & Lake Sainte-Croix du Verdon Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Day 8 Via Cordata & Route des Crêtes Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Day 9 Canyoneering in the Verdon Gorge Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Day 10 Return to Marseille, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Marseille

Aerial view of Marseille
Aerial view of Marseille

Welcome to France! Your journey starts in Marseille, a historic Mediterranean city. With 2,600 years of history, this is France's oldest city, founded on the site of the ancient Greek colony of Massalia around 600 BCE. Explore Marseille's most impressive and historic neighborhoods, like the colorful district of Le Panier. This is the "old Marseille," where the city was founded. It's a working-class enclave on the central port and is the picture of Mediterranean beauty, with old plazas, ancient churches, and brightly colored facades on tenement buildings. You'll also find street art on the walls in the form of colorful frescoes.

Other must-visit areas of Marseille include the waterfront, the hilltop basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, and the Roman monastic foundation of Saint-Victor Abbey. You can also follow a walkway to Fort Saint-Jean, a fortification dominating the port built in 1660 by Louis XIV. Be sure to pay a visit to the fascinating Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MUCEM), which features permanent exhibits devoted to the history of these regional societies from ancient times to the present day. You'll want to end the excursion in Vieux Port, in the heart of the city, where you can finish the day by enjoying a good pastis or beer as the sun goes down.

Day 2: Private Boat Cruise & Photography Workshop

Discover the turquoise water of Malmousque

Spend the morning discovering the hidden gems of Marseille. Just a stone's throw from the tumult of the city center, you'll find one of the world's most beautiful coastal regions. Make your way to the port, then set sail on a private boat tour. Your skipper will navigate to the day's first stop: the Frioul Islands archipelago. With its little port and famous Château d'If, this neighborhood of Marseille includes four small islands with great views of little rocky coves and the ancient castle.

From here, continue your tour to Malmousque to explore hidden rocky inlets and turquoise water—perfect for a dip. Finish your trip at the beautiful Vallon des Auffes, an ancient fishing port located under a massive bridge. You'll have ample time for swimming in these hidden coves, which are difficult to access without a boat. Back on solid ground, enjoy the golden afternoon hour with a local photography guide. Bring your phone or camera with you and explore the colorful streets of Marseille while improving your photography skills with your photographer guide's help. At the end of the day, enjoy dinner in the city center.

Day 3: Soap Atelier, Transfer to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie village
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie village

In the morning, explore a different art form as you learn about the region's emblematic "Savon de Marseille." A master soapmaker will teach you about soap history, the manufacturing process, and historic secrets. After you've been introduced to the making and mixing procedures, you'll create and personalize a soap of your own.

In the afternoon, set out for Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, the gate to the Gorge of Verdon (approximately a 2.5-hour drive away.) It's the largest canyon in Europe, drawing nature lovers from around the world. Verdon is home to the small villages of Bauduen and Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon and the hilltop villages of Aiguines, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (known for its fine porcelain), and Castellane.

There's no shortage of activities in the park, from relaxing on the beaches to canoeing on Sainte-Croix Lake and hiking in the mountains. At the height of the flowering season, the Valensole Plateau is awash with color as the lavender blooms, covering the hillsides in spectacular purple swathes.

Day 4: Ride Horseback to Sainte-Croix Lake

Horse hike
Saddle up and enjoy a full-day ride to Sainte-Croix Lake

Explore the Verdon region on horseback with today's full-day tour. You'll meet up with a local expert in the morning who will prepare the horses for you and you for them. Ride along rivers and forests up to a wild beach that isn't accessible by car to stop for lunch. Picnic on local wine and cheeses along with canapés and desserts, then relax on the beach or take a swim. Once you've finished basking, get back on your horse to keep riding through the wilderness for another hour and a half before you return to the equestrian center.

Plan your trip to France
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Raft the Verdon River

Rafting on the Verdon river
Rafting on the Verdon river

Drive to the ancient city of Castellane for your morning adrenaline rush. Start by rafting through the Verdon Gorge, the best way to grasp the canyon's scale. Paddle your raft for 2.5 hours of fast-flowing water, with sections of rapids spanning more than 8 miles (14 km).

Slow down your pace in the afternoon as you break for lunch and an exploration of the village of Castellane. The town is dominated by the Roc, a giant limestone rock that towers nearby. Wander the streets surrounded by the colorful facades characteristic of Haute-Provence villages and visit the three key monuments of the St. Victor Church, the clock tower, and the Pentagonal Tower. Then follow the Roc path toward the chapel and take in the views over the rooftops with the Verdon Valley in the distance.

You'll return to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie in the evening.

Day 6: Verdon Wildlife Photography Session

Vulture flying through the gorge
A vulture flying through the gorge

Enjoy the natural spirit and landscapes of the Verdon region with the help of a professional photographer on today's bespoke photography course. Your professional photographer guide frequently organizes photoshoots to share their passions for photography and nature. Follow them around the edge of the Verdon canyon to get expert insight into capturing the birds and other wildlife of the region for roughly 4-5 hours to ensure you get the perfect photo souvenir. From golden hour to specific locations, today's tour is fully customizable.

Day 7: Visit Lavender Fields in Valensole Plateau & Lake Sainte-Croix du Verdon

Lavender fields of Valensole
Lavender fields of Valensole

After breakfast, you'll drive to the Plateau de Valensole (Valensole Plateau), the most famous area in France, to see the lavender bloom. Each year, starting in June and peaking in early July, the fields in this part of Provence come alive with vivid displays of purple that stretch all along the countryside. As a pleasant contrast, many of these lavender fields sit alongside vast expanses of golden wheat.

You can also discover other aromatic plants in the heart of the Verdon Regional Nature Park. Some people cultivate and harvest Damask roses and other aromatic plants on a plateau overlooking the Grand Canyon, which they pick by hand and distill on the spot to transform them into essential oils, floral waters, and lotions. Depending on the time of year, you'll learn firsthand about the distillation process with your specific botanical.

You'll also visit the banks of Lake Sainte-Croix du Verdon, adjacent to the gorge. Sail, swim, windsurf, canoe, or kayak on the emerald green water of this 8-mile-long lake (14 km). If you aren't feeling aquatic, visit the lakeside village of Sainte-Croix du Verdon, which is filled with old houses, public squares, and viewing points that look out over the tranquil waters below.

Day 8: Via Cordata & Route des Crêtes

Enjoy the thrills of the via cordata
Enjoy the thrills of the via cordata

Start on a high note with a climbing experience on the mountain rocks. You'll follow a via cordata, a mix between climbing and walking with a rope attaching you to the route, along the "Fox Hole" section of the landscape. Follow passages along the wall with abseils, a zipline, a pendular jump, and a monkey bridge to take in nature from a new vantage point.

After your climb, discover the villages of La Palud Sur Verdon and Rougon with a drive above the canyon. La Palud was once a potters' village and is now home to a wealth of local products, including trout, crayfish, lavender honey, truffles, ham, and country bread. It's also the starting point for a scenic drive along the Route des Crêtes, 14 miles (23 km) of canyon views. Go through Point Sublime overlook, with one of the best views of the gorge, then to the village of Rougon. The little village offers a view of Point Sublime from its castle ruins, where you can see how it earned its name.

Day 9: Canyoneering in the Verdon Gorge

The Verdon River allows for some excellent canyoneering and water-sports activities
The Verdon River allows for some excellent canyoneering and watersports activities

Return to the Verdon Gorge today to descend into the 31 miles (50 km) of the canyon. You'll follow the Route des Crêtes, keeping an eye out for the impressive views and wildlife, such as fawn and monk vultures. Once in the canyon, you'll embark on a roughly five-hour canyoneering session down a tributary of the Verdon River in a narrow gorge with dramatic rock formations. You'll follow the tributary through cliff jumps, natural waterslides, swim breaks, and a 32-foot (10 m) abseiling descent along a rock face on this adrenaline adventure.

Those traveling with children or just in the mood for something more sedate can opt for an aquatic hike instead, which will see you floating through some gentle rapids with optional jumps and hiking along the river banks.

Day 10: Return to Marseille, Depart

Goodbye, Provence!
Goodbye, Provence!

After breakfast, depending on your schedule, you'll make your way to the airport in Marseille to catch a direct flight or head to the nearest TGV station to board a high-speed train to Paris or Nice. This concludes your grand Provençal adventure. Au revoir!

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Map of Provençal Alps Adventure: Marseille & Verdon - 10 Days
Map of Provençal Alps Adventure: Marseille & Verdon - 10 Days