Beautiful Gorges du Verdon

In the south of France you will find the beautiful, more than 180,000 hectares of regional natural park Verdon. By the many pedal boats and kayaks that you’ll see in the river, it’s not a secret place. But it can be high on your list of destinations. Because it is beautiful here. Even my children agreed and there is often a ‘wow’ rolling out of their mouths. And I can totally understand that, because ‘wow’, Gorges du Verdon is so beautiful!

The region of Gorges du Verdon

The Gorges du Verdon is best known for its Grand Canyon du Verdon. This is a gigantic gorge that is even one of the largest gorges in Europe. Through the 25 kilometer long river Verdon you can see rock walls up to 700 meters high. These have been worn out over the centuries. This amazing natural phenomenon ends in the reservoir ‘Lac de Sainte-Croix’. In the Grand Canyon there are many tourists, but the nature reserve has much more beauty to offer and is worth a longer stay.

Many come from the Côte d’Azur to visit the Grand Canyon du Verdon for a day. During our holiday we stayed at a campsite in the Verdon nature reserve… The campsite was our base and from the campsite we explored what the area has to offer. And I can tell you now, we are not finished yet and therefore there is a good chance that we will return again to Gorges du Verdon.

There are many campsites in the area of Gorges du Verdon. Are you looking for a large campsite with many swimming pools and a complete entertainment programme? If so, you’d better continue your search on the Côte d’Azur and take the Verdon as an excursion. In the Gorges du Verdon area you’ll find mainly small nature campsites. Some directly on the Verdon, others more in the forest with a small swimming pool.

What to do in the Gorges du Verdon

Holidays are for relaxing. That’s right! Yet last summer we did a lot of activities in the Gorges du Verdon, simply because the area invites you to do so. For that reason alone it was very nice that we stayed a bit longer in this area, because no matter how much I like to go out every day, the children sometimes want to stay on the campsite for a day or two. You know, swimming a bit, making friends and just playing.

It may be quite touristy, but skipping a water activity in the Grand Canyon of the Verdon is like cursing in the church. So well we rented a pedal boat at the gate of the Grand Canyon. However, we didn’t choose the right day to do this, as the wind was quite strong, with the result that entering the Canyon was a piece of cake, but leaving the Canyon caused us unnecessarily much muscle pain.

In addition to pedal boats, you can also rent a kayak or an SUP-board. If you’d rather be lazy than tired, I advise you to rent an electric boat.

There are several places where you can rent electric boats, SUP boards and canoes. Motorboats are forbidden in the Verdon.

Renting a pedal boat in the Gorges du Verdon will cost you +- €15 per hour. Renting a kayak also costs about €15,00 per hour. For both, it depends on how many persons pedal boat or kayak you choose.
Renting a SUP will cost you +- €10,00 per hour.
Renting an electric boat will quickly cost you around €45.00 per hour.

Rafting and Canyoning in the Verdon

One of the enjoyable things about the ageing of my children, is that the activities are also becoming more enjoyable. The swimming bands are exchanged for a raft boat and the playground is exchanged for a climbing course through the canyon.

Our goal was rafting. We tried to arrange this via ‘Les Guides’. You could call them for an appointment, but given the size of our group, we thought it would be better to stop by and arrange a tour in person. The office of Les Guides is located in the town of Les Salles, not too far from the Grand Canyon du Verdon. Upon arrival we had our first disappointment: rafting was not possible due to the drought. Flexible as we are we switched from rafting to canyoning.

And what is canyoning? We also wondered… In the end it turned out to be a combination of climbing, abseiling, ziplining, jumping from a rock and swimming in ice cold water. All this in a 3mm wetsuit. After the zipline and the 10 meter high climbing course in Sweden, I thought that my daughter would be experienced enough for the family tour. However, this turned out to be quite a challenge for her and some fears had to be overcome. Tough as she is, she completed the two and a half hour course in the canyon of the Verdon. But when asked: “next year again?”, a convincing “no, really not!” came out. Too bad for me, because with this ‘canyoning’ I could have entertained myself all day long. Next year child 2 but bring along then …

Children can participate in the activities from the age of 8 years and about 30 kg. Provided they have good swimming skills and a little guts. The cost is about €40.00 for half a day (2.5 hours).

Rafting is logically only possible when the water is high enough. The costs for a 1.5 hour raft trip are €40.00.

Office address:
Les Guides
2 rue Margaridon
83630 Les Salles sur Verdon

But you can also call to participate in one of the activities: +33(0)494842255

The most beautiful car route along the Gorges du Verdon

Gorges du Verdon offers a lot of water activities. But it also has a beautiful car route.
And so we get in the car for one of the most beautiful car routes in the world. This route even deserves a place in National Geographic’s dream ride book. In general we don’t do the kids any fun with a sightseeing trip by car, but this route is quite spectacular. Especially when we pass a bungyjump point. “Are these people seriously going to jump off the bridge?”
For this route you need to have a strong stomach, because of the many hairpin bends you can see some green. Also spray enough deodorant, because the deep rock walls can cause splashing armpits.

Lakes of the Verdon

Lac de Sainte Croix

Don’t only focus at the Grand Canyon of the Verdon, the Verdon has a lot more to offer. Including some beautiful lakes. The largest lake of the Verdon is the reservoir of Sainte-Croix, or ‘Lac de Sainte Croix’. Lac de Sainte Croix has several beaches and picturesque, semi-touristic villages (Les Salles-sur-Verdon, Bauduen, Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon) with a nice boulevard where you can eat an ice cream. Most beaches are quite crowded, especially in the weekend when the local French people enjoy their day off at the lake. At the end of the day we visited a beach near Bauduen, where we enjoyed a bbq picnic (no coal or open fire!).

Lac d’Artignosc

A lot less touristy and therefore a lot quieter was the lake near our campsite and the picturesque village of Artignosc, ‘Lac d’Artignosc’. This lake felt a bit like our own local recreational lake, but with a big rock on the other side and the lack of blue green algae. Also here you can rent a pedal boat, a kayak, an SUP-board, or an electric boat. And again there are many French people on the weekends who put together a picnic on the spot. The disadvantage (for us) is that no dogs are allowed on this stretch. Although most recreational enthusiasts don’t mind, as long as you don’t go swimming with the dog. One friendly French couple even advised us that if anyone would give a damn, we could just say we didn’t understand them. “Je ne comprends pas…”

Lac de Quinson

A little further on, near the village of Quinson, lies the lake ‘Lac de Quinson’. Again, there is the possibility to rent a pedal boat or kayak, which is certainly worth it, as this lake has a mini-canyon.

Lac d’Esparron

Lac d’Esparron is also worth a visit. You have to love the crowds and in my opinion there were a lot of young people here as well (not that I consider myself to be one of the old people now). There is a small supervised bay, given the many toddlers in this bay, I would call it the paddling pond. If you walk a little further over the rocks, you end up at a larger lake with beautiful cliffs and mysterious views.

Gorges du Verdon and its beautiful surroundings certainly belong on your must see list!

Gorges du Verdon on Google maps


Parc & Shows: Puy du Fou in France

In France you’ll find a park full of shows. The park is called Puy du Fou. I experienced the park and I could describe it in one word: spectacular! But since there is much more to tell about it, I will share all my experiences in this review about Puy du Fou.

What is Puy du Fou?

Puy du Fou is not an amusement park with roller coasters. But it is still a great adventure to be in Puy du Fou. The term ‘adventure park’ is probably the most appropriate for this park. Puy du Fou is an experience with lots of spectacular sensations. No less than 19 performances (averaging 30 minutes) in the park and one evening spectacle (of 1 hour and 40 minutes) just outside the park, make your showtime heart beat faster. All shows are about the history of France and has a link to the Vendee region. The region where the park is located. Whenever you think it can’t be crazier, it becomes even more special, even more spectacular. It’s difficult to describe, that’s why I think you should experience Puy du Fou yourself.

Where is Puy du Fou?

As I said, Puy du Fou is located in the Vendee region. Vendee is a region in the west of central France. It is just under a 9 hour drive from Amsterdam. The nearest airport is Nantes. A flight from Schiphol Amsterdam takes about an hour and a half.

Because I visited the park for one weekend, I went by plane. At the airport of Nantes I picked up a rental car. From the airport of Nantes and with that it is another hour’s drive to Puy du Fou.

After an hour of driving I arrive at Puy du Fou. I spend the night in one of the Puy du Fou hotels: La Citadelle. I can park my car next to the town wall. As soon as I walk through the town gate to check in, I immediately end up in the Middle Ages. Everything is in style, even the toilet reminds me of centuries ago. Luckily I can flush the toilet normally.

La Citadelle is one of the five official hotels of Puy du Fou. Besides this castle, Puy du Fou also has an inn from the 18th century. A tent camp from the Renaissance. You can spend the night in a hut on poles, which comes from the early Middle Ages. Or you can spend the night in Roman style. All five of these official Puy du Fou hotels are within walking distance of the special hotel entrance to the park.

Puy du Fou: spectaculaire shows!

In Puy du Fou you will find mostly shows. Many of these can be called spectacular shows. Because the setting, the stunts, well, actually the whole experience is one big spectacle. I visited 13 attractions in two full days. That’s a lot of shows and I can’t recommend this program when you visit the park with children. The advantage is that I can now share my experiences about most of the different shows.

Show: ‘Le mystère de la Pérouse’

This attraction / show is new in 2018 and is slightly different from the other shows in Puy du Fou. When entering a ship from the year 1785, I think we’re in a line for the next show. But it soon becomes clear to me that we are on board of the ship. And that is the start of the show. In this show you are on a voyage of discovery over unknown seas. A few actors who are completely in their role play so convincingly that the story soon becomes clear. Even though it is spoken in French and there is no translation possible at this attraction. The ship takes us on wild seas. The moving scenery and the sound effects really disorient you. So much for disorienting you, you’d almost get seasick from it. The attraction ‘Le mystère de la Pérouse’ is certainly not a show where you sit still and watch. This is what they mean by an ‘show experience’.

Birdshow: Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantômes

We are looking for a place on a large grandstand, this is where we are going to experience Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantômes. This is a show, or rather a spectacle with birds. I’ve seen a bird show before, also in France at an old castle. Where a falconer let his owl and falcon fly back and forth and the audience said ‘oooooh’. You can perhaps imagine that I did not have too high expectations at ‘the bird show’. Also in Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantômes a story was told. This could be followed by a translation, but I had to get used to listening via a crackling box. Fortunately I later discovered the app by Puy du Fou, which made the translation sound a lot better. Anyway, I don’t think the story stole the show either. No, that honour really goes to the more than 200 birds such as falcons, owls and vultures, which fly right above your head. And when you think you’ve seen all the birds after half an hour, the final comes. Where all the birds, including pelicans, storks and marabous, cover the sky.

Theatre show: Mousquetaire de Richelieu

We go from one adventure to another. A completely different adventure, though. Because while I’m still recovering from all the flying birds’ violence, we’re going to experience a performance in a monumental 17th century theatre. Mousquetaire de Richelieu, also the Musketeers. Fine, let’s have a quiet look at a performance, thats what I think. But after having already had two shows, I should have known better. Mousquetaire de Richelieu, is full of action. Logical, because you know, the Musketeers. Different fencing duels, equestrian arts and an unexpected setting make this show a true spectacle as well.

Small show: Le Secret de la Lance

We are now going to watch a small show, according to our personal guide. Le Secret de la Lance tells the story of Marguerite, a young woman who is left alone in a castle, while the knights leave for Orléans. She has only one task: to unravel the secret of a lance with magical properties in order to protect the enchanted walls of the castle.
It will rest on your shoulders…
Of course, I’m not gonna tell you if she’s gonna be able to do it. I can tell you that this performance is far from small. Okay, the decor might start small, but now I’m starting to discover that at Puy du Fou, nothing is what it seems.

Water show: Les Orgues de Feu

In the evening, ‘Les Orgues de Feu’ is on the programme. A show on the water, with real people coming out of the water, says our guide. You can imagine a very surprised look around my face. People out of the water, how? But I can’t unlock the secrets of Puy du Fou with our guide. You’ll see it tonight’, is what I have to do with. The weather gods make us feel the ultimate experience of a water show by letting the water crash on us during the show. But it won’t spoil the fun, because my attention is focused on what happens on the water. It is now dark and soon it becomes clear to me why this show has to be seen in the dark. Costumes whit lights that sway fabulously over the water, with real people in them! It is a spectacular sight. When a grand piano with a man comes out of the water, I’m totally amazed! How do they do that?
The fountains and the water organ complete the performance, making ‘Les Orgues de Feu’ a great way to end the day in Puy du Fou.

A walk through a trench: Les Amoureux de Verdun

After a night’s sleep in our luxurious room in the hotel La Citadelle, we have another day in Puy du Fou.

The first show on our program today is a fierce one. A love story is told by means of the love letters of a soldier. A story that you see, feel and experience when you walk through a trench in the winter of 1916. It is the evening before Christmas and the war is in full swing. The shooting, the soldiers, the explosions and their consequences in the dark trench may be a little too intense for small children. The actors take their roles very seriously. It’s highly recommended! And for the children there are several exits during the trip through Les Amoureux de Verdun, if it gets too scary.

Great show: Les Vikings

After this depressing (the story doesn’t end well) beginning of the day, I’m ready for something light-hearted. Savage, wild and rough Vikings, yes that makes me happy. With about 3000 more people we go to one of the main performances of Puy du Fou, Les Vikings. The sun is shining, the scenery is fantastic again and we are going to watch Vikings. Moreover, I have now installed the app for the better translation.

The story starts quit peacefully in Fort de l’An Mil. The people are cheerful and the and the decor looks great. A couple gets married. Some boys are knighted. And suddenly the rough Vikings from the north are there. Then another spectacle starts with fire, stunts, complete ships that float upstairs and there are horses. The violence is really coming at you and I don’t know where to look. This is one of those shows where you can go three times and see something different every time.

After this show lunch is on the program. Which is great, because I really need to recover from this.

Spinning show: Le Dernier Panache

After lunch we get to see something complete different. Not a single performance in Puy du Fou falls under the heading of standard theatre show and also this one does not. Le Dernier Panache is a show inside with a audience revolving around the stage. Through different scenes we get to see a piece of history from the Vendee again. This time it’s the French Revolution with a French naval officer in the leading role. Whether children can actually follow this story, I wonder. In any case, it is spectacular to see.

In a Colosseum: Le Signe du Triomphe

And then there’s really the greatest spectacle. Whether it’s because of the gigantic Colosseum, or because we make our debut as actresses, I don’t know. But Le Signe du Triomphe is grand, it’s wild and most of all, it’s spectacular.

So we play in this show, but we’re not the only one chosen. About 40 people are picked from the audience and asked to participate in the show. Playing along is not difficult. You are brought behind the scenes for a short explanation and of course a costume party.
There are two groups. The Romans and the Gauls. I belong to the Gauls and to get directly into the role, we yell at the Romans loudly BOE when they past (still behind the scenes). It’s a bit uncomfortable, but our leader clearly has more experience and helps us well on our way. Before I know it I’m in in the Colosseum, yelling at the Romans with about twenty other players. And that while the ‘normal’ audience still comes in and goes looking for a place.

Because I play along with this story, I can’t turn on the translation and I just have to imitate what my Gallic leader does. But because I play along with that story, I can’t turn on the translation and I just have to imitate what my Gallic leader does. It soon becomes clear to me that love is back in the game. A kind of Romeo and Juliet, but with a Roman guy and a Gallic girl. Why other Gallic prisoners are involved is not clear to me. Anyway, they have to win the circus games in front of the Roman governor, according to the description. What I see, shouted in between my BOE, is an unequal fight between the Romans and the Gallic prisoners. A horse race which is directed very well with of course a lot of stunts.

And as if it wasn’t crazy enough, a tiger, a lion and three lionesses enter the arena. Of course we end up with a ‘they live happily ever after’ and my voice sounds like a false crow. But what a pleasure we had and that combined with another spectacular show. Le Signe du Triomphe is one of my favourites of Puy du Fou.

The evening show: La Cinescenie

When you think you’ve had it all and you can’t be more spectacular. Then you haven’t seen La Cinescenie yet. The evening performance of Puy du Fou, for which you have to buy separate tickets, is world famous. Twice a week 14,000 people come to watch this ‘mindblowing’ show of almost two hours with an open mouth. The stage covers an area of 23 hectares. The number of actors playing along is 2,400, not counting horses, cows, sheep, and so on. Fireworks, 3D video projections, overwhelming decors and lots of special effects.

Can you imagine it? I really had no idea before we went to see the evening show La Cinescenie. And once in the grandstand, watching the gigantic view, all I could do was ask myself, “How? During the performance, everything becomes clear to me. La Cinescenie is a performance that cannot be explained, but you really have to experience it yourself. Because something so great and overwhelming is really hard to describe.

Puy du Fou, the tips and info

Tickets: Actually, I would advise you to book an overnight stay in one of the hotels at Puy du Fou. Simply because this way you can quietly discover the park. And what one day doesn’t succeed, the next day maybe succeeds. In Puy du Fou you can have a great time for two days. When booking an overnight stay, make sure you also book your entrance tickets. These are not standard for a hotel stay.

Puy du Fou app: When visiting Puy du Fou, put the Puy du Fou app on your phone! With this app, you’ll be up to date at all times. When does the next show start? You can see on the map where you are in the park and that is very handy, because the park does not promote your sense of direction. And the translation via the app is also much easier to understand than through the crackling translation box.

Travelling whit a dog: When we go on holiday, we always take the dog with us. However, dogs are not allowed in the Puy du Fou park. This is because of the wild animals in the park. Assistance and guide dogs are welcome, but you have to mention this in advance. However, taking a dog with you does not have to stand in the way of your visit to Puy du Fou. Puy du Fou has a dog boarding house where your dog is taken care of all day (for a fee). Here, too, it is advisable to make a reservation in advance.

Behind the scenes at the falconers: It is possible to get a tour behind the scenes with the falconers. Here you can see the daily care of the more than 530 birds in the Puy du Fou. Including the experience of a very high cuteness of the newborn birds. This tour takes about 90 minutes.

The opening hours of Puy du Fou: The opening hours of the park can be different every day. For this purpose, Puy du Fou has made a calendar that clearly shows which day and which opening hours it has. On Friday and Saturday there is also the show Cinéscénie. Check out the Puy du Fou calendar. Or download the app, where you can immediately see whether the park is open or closed.

Eating and Drinking in Puy du Fou: The food and drink in Puy du Fou is totally the French way. Tasty and extensive. There are several restaurants in the park. There are also a number of fast food restaurants, although these are pretty concealed. My recommendations for good food and drink are:

  • L’Echansonnerie
  • Les Deux Couronnes
  • La Mijoterie du Roy Henry
  • L’Ecuyer Tranchant
  • Le Bistrot

Dressed up to Puy du Fou: A good tip to know is that for artistic reasons it is expressly forbidden to come to Puy du Fou in costume. So no bachelorette parties!

Tip: Put on closed shoes! All paths are covered with fine gravel. And when it rains, put on old closed shoes, which will damage your shoes.

Address Puy du Fou and map: Puy de Fou is easy to reach by car. You can even park for free at all the parking lots of the Puy du Fou.

The address of Puy du Fou is:
85590 Les Epesses
France