Tracks and Trails / Trail Running / Scheduled Departures / UPDATED: Trans Verdon Run

UPDATED: Trans Verdon Run

verdon gorge

Verdon Trails

Experience running amongst the stunning landscape carved by the Verdon River which has created what is known as the 'Grand Canyon of Europe'. On this multi-day journey we run from the foothills of Haute Provence through the Verdon National Park and some of the most dramatic scenery in France as we make our way along the Verdon Gorge.

The Run

  • NEW: 6 Day Itinerary
  • Run between 16-23km per day
  • Discover the largest canyon in Europe
  • Through lavender fields and olive groves
  • Enjoy the wine and food of Provence
  • Traverse the famous GR4, Napoleon's route
  • Stay in lodges and small hotels
  • Run with a small pack whilst your luggage is transferred daily

This guided trail run is designed for regular runners, with off road experience, who want to enjoy running each day with the luxury of their luggage being transported to the next location, so you only have to carry a light pack. The run is on a mixture of good trails, wide tracks and some rocky sections in the Gorge itself.

A Runner's High 

REVIEWS!!! Our running camps have been joined by many keen sporty journalists including; Susan Greenwood writing for the Guardian, Claire Maxted for Trail Running Magazine and Katy Dartford for Zest Magazine and Sport Sister. To read these & more reviews go to our News and Press pages.

Departures

Trip Departure date End date Price Status
TVR4 17 Sat 9 September 17 Sat 16 September 17 £1295 Places available | Make a Booking
TVR5 17 Sat 16 September 17 Sat 23 September 17 £1295 Places available | Make a Booking
TVR6 17 Sat 23 September 17 Sat 30 September 17 £1295 Places available | Make a Booking

Our itinerary allows you enough time to get the most out of the daily trail run but with enough time to enjoy the places that you pass through along the way. Each day we trail run from our accommodation door, fast walking on any steeper sections, from village to village passing through lush meadows & climbing through forests then the Gorge itself to reach points where the views of this region can be enjoyed. The average distance covered on this tour is 20kms per day which involves rolling hills with ascent and descent. Expect the daily approximate walk/run time per day to be: 4 hours.

Your luggage will be transferred between hotels, which means that you need carry no more than a small day pack. Stay in comfortable local hotels and auberges at the end of each night.

The 25km of the Verdon Gorge makes it the largest canyon in Europe and 2nd in the world slicing through the limestone plateau midway between Avignon and Nice. Carved by the turquoise water of the Verdon River, the gorges are 250m to 700m deep. The bottom is 8m to 90m wide, while the rims are 200m to 1500m apart! The National Regional Park of Verdon was created in 1997 to protect an environment that has evolved over two million years and also prides itself in being labelled by UNESCO as the largest geological reserve in Europe. We finish in the capital of ceramics - the famous and beautiful medieval village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Join us for this historic and memorable run with views that are pretty unique and simply hard to beat.

Itinerary

We always aim to complete the itinerary as outlined below, however, the following itinerary will be followed only when conditions and weather make it appropriate, both in terms of safety and enjoyment. Your guide will make a decision on your route based on those conditions.

Day 1 Arrival Day

Fly either to Nice or Marseilles then transfer to the start of the trail head at Saint André Les Alpes. Saint André sits at the start of the turquoise blue Lac de Castillon. This quiet, local Provençal village rests on a 12th century medieval castle built by the Templar Knights and can be easily linked by road with other Provencal regions on what's known as the Route La Lavande.

Early arrivals maybe interested in taking the local 'Train des Pignes' opened in 1911 from Saint André to visit the spa town of Dignes-les-Bains famous for clothes making, their amazing ammonite wall and geological park and thermal waters.

You may wish to start your trip a day early with a night before in Nice.

Day 2 St Andre les Alpes to Castellane

From our hotel, we ascend steadily through woodland to reach high meadows to a ridge on the western side of the lake which offers excellent views of the Lac de Castillon, the neighbouring valley and back towards the peaks of Haute Provence. The trail meanders over a high a limestone plateau where the spring primroses are usually found in abundance. We then descend and join the famous Voie Imperiale, a trail used by Napoleon returning from Elba, in March 1815. Our destination today is the village of Castellane a beautiful example of the architecture of the area. A final hike/run up to the 'Notre Dame de Roc' is well worth it as from here we gain commanding views of Castellane and the Verdon River. Running time: 5.5h, Distance 22-24km, +680m -690m

Day 3 Castellane to Point Sublime

Leaving Castellane we take the famous GR4 which follows the old route used by the Romans to reach Lyon. After a short climb our trail reaches a balcony trail which gives us superb birds eyes view of the trail ahead and perfectly located Chappelle of Saint Jean. As we make our way along the Verdon valley surrounded by rocky outcrops and passing through unspoiled sleepy hamlets we stop at Chasteuil for snack stop. Here we have the opportunity to buy local soaps, balms & oils made with the locally grown lavender (if you don't mind carrying them!). After a second steady climb to a remarkable high plateau at 1228m we then reach the charming village of Rougon. Sat like an eagles nest high above the Verdon Gorge itself the houses are typical of the region, with red tiles and terracotta walls. It's important here to sample the local crepes and icecream whilst watching the once extinct griffin vultures overhead! A short single track descent reaches the Auberge du Point Sublime, our hotel for the night. The viewpoint here gives great views of the Couloir Samson, a narrow gorge and the traditional walking entrance to the Verdon river. Running time: 5h, Distance: 23km, +600m -550m

Day 4 Traverse from Point Sublime along the Verdon Gorge

Today our trail enters the famous 'Grand Canyon of Europe'. From our hotel, we access the Couloir Samson, and the Verdon river 300m below. Here the trail is more challenging under foot as we descend toward the river along the steep walls of the gorge joining what is known as the 'Martel Trail'. What follows is a stunning world of limestone walls and towering cliffs. The trail bears the name of the French speleologist Édouard-Alfred Martel (1859-1938), who undertook the first complete descent into the canyon in August 1905. His work played an important role in helping understand how the hydroelectricity and dam network now in place would come to be. Martel's trail offers unusual running winding it's way up an down along the gorge reaching stunning view points and perfect riverside picnic spots. It features a 650m tunnel straight through the rock along with an impressive stairway to pass through what otherwise would only be a rock climbers venue! To exit the gorge we need to save some energy for a final climb which exits right by the Chalet de la Maline bar, which seems to go down rather well! After a rest and chance to view the stunning panorama we take a short transfer along historic road opened by the Touring Club of France in 1928 to the lovely Provencal village of La Palud where we sleep the night. Running Time: 4.5hr, Distance: 16km (optional +8km) +550m -600m

Day 5 La Palud to Moustiers

Leaving La Palud our run takes us up onto another plateau all on nice wide trails and into the great pine tree forest to the Col de Plein Voir and an exceptional viewpoint above the turquoise lake of Saint Croix. We then make our way on a single track trail through giant limestone crags and rock towers over the Crete de l'Ourbes to reach 1213m. A final steeper descent brings us down to the picturesque village of Moustiers Ste Marie where we spend our final night. Steeped in the history of the Knights Templar Moustiers is truly a gem of a village, totally Provençal in its nature and character and with many lovely cafes, art workshops and galleries. Running Time: 5.5hr, Distance: 18.5km +750m - 900m.

Day 6 Moustiers Ste Marie to Riez

Still on the GR4 route we leave Moustiers on very 'runnable' trails first cross low lying meadows then climb through pines to a higher plateau. We are rewarded by well manicured lavender fields stretching in every direction, and the higher Alps as a backdrop. Our trail continues on passing a truffle farm then through orchards of apples and oak trees. A coffee stop at the old village of Roumoules sets us up for the last climb of the day to regain the higher ground before descending down to the ancient Roman riverside town of Riez also known as the the 'Lavender Capital' - another souvenir destination! Running time: 4.5hr, Distance 17.5km, +370m -420m.

Day 7 Riez to Gréoux-les-Bains

Our last and longest day to complete our traverse of the Verdon Nature park has a touch of Provence around every corner! Our route begins along a quiet lane then takes in ancients mule tracks and paths linking rolling fields of; wheat, lavender, poppies and coriander to reach village of Saint-Martin-les-Bromes and its thirteenth-century tower built by the powerful Knights Templar. Back on trail the final section of our GR4 route leads us partly through forest and to fine views of final destination, Greoux-les-Bains, stretching out below us. Gréoux is a hilltop Roman town and popular hot mineral spa destination complete with characterful narrow streets and "Templier" chateau overlooking the town. We aim to arrive with time to explore or simply relax before enjoying our final meal and overnight. Running time: 5.5hr, Distance 23km, +300m -220m.

Day 8 Departure Day

Today is departure day and your package finishes after breakfast. Details about how to get to and from this trip are given below.

Guided Trail Running and Training 

Our coaches are experienced in racing many sporting distances and disciplines. As well as our Trail Running Camps and guided runs around Mont Blanc and through the Jura we offer bespoke training and coaching for ultra marathons, triathlon and ski racing. So if you have a specific goal in mind and would like personal training or private guiding on the routes then we can help you. Please contact us with any questions.

Price

Included: The guiding services of a fully qualified International Mountain Leader who's also an experienced trail runner. Hotel accommodation for 7 nights including bed and breakfast and evening meals based on twin rooms. Enjoy daily luggage transfers to your next accommodation and transfer from Chalet Maline to La Palud.

Meals: Bed and breakfast is included and evening meal package. We find that all runners prefer different day time snacks. Lunches can be bought from your accommodation, local village stores or on some days on route. Budget about 6 -8 Euros per day for daytime snacks and drinks. Expect to carry snacks, gels and some real food! Some refreshments are available along the way at cafes or bars.

Not Included: Flights, travel Insurance, airport transfers, drinks, lunches & snack food. We are happy to advise on the best options for airport transfers and flights.

Accommodation

All accommodation is en suite and is in clean and characterful Provençal auberges and hotels. The trip price based on two people sharing a room. A single room option may be available on request but would incur a supplementary fee. Facilities at each night stop will vary.

Weather

In mountainous terrain the weather can vary considerably. Temperatures can reach over 30°c in the height of the summer (July/August), but can be as low as 5°c on the passes. It is often sunny with good clear days, but it can rain and snow (even in July or August) so you should be prepared for any eventuality. The average temperatures range from 15-25°c in the valleys and 5-15°c on the passes.

Luggage & Back Up

On each run day, there will be vehicle support to carry your luggage to the next overnight stop. To make things efficient during the luggage transfer process, and to prevent any losses, please keep luggage to a minimum i.e. a day sac whilst running and one bag labelled clearly to transfer. Some hotels do not have lifts so please be able to lift your own bag with ease! If for any reason you wish to travel with our support driver we can arrange this.

Minimum numbers

This week will run once a minimum number of 4 clients have booked, we will take a maximum of 8.

Further Information

Upon booking we will send you a list of suggested equipment and clothing for your trail running week.

If you are unsure of your suitability for this trip then please contact us for more details.

Guiding

Please note that on booking a trip your guide will make a daily decision on the suggested route based on the weather and the ability of the members of the group. The guide has complete discretion to make any route changes necessary in the interests of safety and enjoyment. Your guide will be a fully qualified International Mountain Leader.

Grading

We have graded this trip 'Moderate-Difficult' because the days are lengthy but the terrain is not too difficult but of course fitness is required. It's not essential that you have vast amounts of mountain running experience for this trip if your mental attitude and level of fitness is good!

Getting there and back

The closest airport is Nice for this trip. Many guests prefer to arrive a day early and explore the ancient seaside boulevards of Nice and the old town. From Nice there is a spectacular train ride through gorgeous Provencal countryside to the start of your trip at St Andre. It is on one of the very few private railways in France and with trains running four times a day it is an easy way to get to the start. It is also excellent value for money being 18 Euros per person (2015 prices) for a single journey of about 2.5 hrs. Saint André Les Alpes is approx 2hrs by car from Nice. The timetable for the train service from Nice to Saint André Les Alpes on the historic Train des Pignes can be found here. A do MUST for train fans!

At the end of the run in Greoux-les-Bains there are several methods for onward travel. Marseilles is the closest airport but there are also options to return back to Nice plus an easy bus ride reaches Manosque where connections are possible across France including the near by Luberon region. Marseille airport is 1hr by road and 2hrs by train, Nice airport 2hrs by road and 3h30 by train. Please contact us for more detailed information.

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