Hike on the Blanc-Martel Trail in the Gorges du Verdon – Europe’s Grand Canyon – France

Hike on the Blanc-Martel Trail in the Gorges du Verdon – Europe’s Grand Canyon – France

I’ve done lots of hikes in my life and I have to admit that few places I’ve visited so far can boast a beautiful scenery as the Gorges du Verdon.

The most important thing that you should know is that the Blanc-Martel trail is a one way hike and the best way to walk this iconic route is from Châlet de la Maline to Point Sublime. There is a local bus service from end to end which runs from the end of April until the end of August, which takes you first to la Palud sur Verdon (2€) and then you’ll have to wait for another to Chalet the la Maline (8€) – or the opposite way round depending on which side you decide to approach the hike. We woke up pretty early to avoid doing this walk in the hottest hours, but we ended up waiting quite a long while for the buses, so we’d recommend to drive to the finishing point and arrange for a local taxi company to pick you up from there and take you to the start. You can download all the info HERE.

Plan to start the hike no later than 9 am as in the canyon temperature can get very high, especially in the summer months. For the same reason make sure to have plenty of water – Paul and I drunk 2 L each – as there won’t be any refill opportunity during the path. At a leisurely pace this walk will take you about 7 hours, so make sure to pack some food and snacks. It goes without saying but make sure to wear hiking shoes and a proper hiking outfit. You’ll also need a flashlight (or make sure you keep enough battery on your phone) towards the end of the trail as there are two long – and very dark tunnels. 

Another thing to be aware of and you’ll probably notice some warning signs on the banks about this, is that the river is controlled by a dam. At any given point, without warning, this dam could be released, causing the water to rise incredibly fast, so watch out when you linger at the water’s edge.

  • Start: Chalet de la Maline
  • End: Point Sublime (Park your car here)
  • Length: 16 km
  • Min Elevation: 1,859 m
  • Max Elevation: 3,340 m
  • Total Ascent: 1,481 m
  • Difficulty: E (Hikers)
  • Equipment: Hiking Shoes, proper hiking outfit
  • Dogs Allowed: No
On the bus towards Chalet de la Maline
From Chalet de la Maline the path starts with a descent which leads you down towards the Verdon river
Once you get to the bottom, we followed the markers towards Point Sublime, which follow an easy route through the trees, and from which you can also easily access the river.
Once we got to the bottom naturally the path started ascending again. But not to worry the ascent is gradual and well equipped to ease your way in tricky spots
A look in the Canyon from the first viewing point (signalled)
We noticed that the path was so diverse and offered lots of amazing pic opportunities
Once you reach the top you can choose to climb up to a view point from which you can admire the spectacular landscape.
From this point on starts a very vertical set of stairs (which I wouldn’t recommend if you are a vertigo sufferer) to ease the way down in a very steep part of the hike
After 3 good hours we found an opportunity to stop for some lunch by the river’s bank side
and cool down in the crystal blue waters
As you can see I’m not as brave as Paul…
From this point onwards the climb starts again, but you’re always rewarded by stunning views.
Luckily there is plenty of woodland on the path which offers a refreshing break from the heat
Another viewpoint

Towards the end of the walk there are two tunnels. Mind your footing in the dark, as even in the summer there are a couple of ankle deep puddles just waiting to fill your walking shoes with icy cold water!
The second tunnel is longer than the first, but there are little viewing windows dotted throughout.
There is a parking space at the end of the second tunnel. Continue towards West and you’ll find the rest of the path towards Point Sublime (end of the walk) signalled.
The last stretch is quite steep and hot – especially when we did it – but you’ll be rewarded at the top with some of the most amazing views.
A final look back before heading back to the car.