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1 week in the Gorges du Verdon= 2 campsites to discover the richness of this incredible site

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Adventurer feedback : Verdon Gorge, a natural monument

"You do a step and that is freedom,
You do two steps and it is equal,
You make three steps and the world has changed... »

Editor's note

Nearly a quarter of century of adventures and discoveries in the Gorges du Verdon led the author to share his knowledge and his encounters
visitors that we are, in love with this beautiful nature.
Anecdotes, sometimes surprising stories, his hiking books, original research we are offered so that we, novices or laymen of the Verdon, we discover, and in turn, love the Verdon. Loving this magic territory the understanding in its past, in its present, but also in its destiny.
We now have the hands reference work missed us to complete our 'Verdonnien' knowledge, to resume a dear definition to its author.Let us be guided by this modern-day adventurer and let us appreciate the words told one by one by this self-taught fascinated by the great work of nature. It is through the trails that the author initially approached the Verdon. It is on the trail of knowledge, but of the true nature, he now invites us to follow in this admirable book of testimonies.

Invitation of the author

On the eternal land of Provence, daughter of the Sun, the Verdon Gorges are a gaping fracture and winding at the bottom of which an impetuous Alpine torrent has shaped, and set his course by changing elements of the mineral Kingdom. A little to the image of a colossal "Durandale" which would here cloven rock, rare white bark of our planet.
For centuries, the Verdon has dug, searched, gullied huge blocks, switches cliffs, while spraying barriers who dared to stand on his bed, in order to establish his dantesque journey but magical.
First son Durance will join South of Manosque, downstream of Vinon-sur-Verdon, in the heart of the Provencal country, nature has filled a priceless jewel sites. Here nothing is artificial.Nothing was left to chance.All the discoveries are just pure and real wonders.
Testimony alive and poignancy of the original creation, the Verdon remains this torrent River who knows how to behave in Great Lord of times past, borrowing of legends but also of mysteries, where life itself is a heavenly sign!
The cliffs form above its price an imperial honor guard, a Praetorian in the image of its outrageousness. In this unrealistic and true to the times, sometimes daunting and wonderful universe, stressful and enveloping, the atmosphere that the bathroom gives to the Gorges du Verdon, as well as its Canyon, a sublime world. It's a bit as if a great architect of the universe had hoped that in this world any realization of the most grandiose in the smallest than any species, be it mineral, vegetable or animal, finally everything is as pure and true wonder.
In this context, the adventure still keeps its deep meaning here. Whether it's from the intimate and personal discoveries to the most selfish of the hidden treasures of pastoral life.
But still, it is not enough to know the Verdon, still need to digest the information, make body with him, respect it as such. This monster of nature, out of any common realization similar elsewhere, on Earth, is an exceptional universe to him alone. The gods of the past have conferred a currency. "His motto' he wears proudly and cheerfully, and making him a reference here:
"the Verdon, the God of the green waters".

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Presentation of the website of the Verdon

The Verdon Gorges are located in the southeast of the France. They form the main natural boundary between the departments (the Alpes de Haute-Provence and the var within the Region administrative Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.)
They benefit from a Mediterranean-type climate which is no need to brag about the benefits. Verdon rises near the Col d'Allos, in Haute Provence, in the Massif des Trois Évêchés which stands 2819 metres, near the peripheral area of the Parc National du Mercantour.
Brook, from its very beginning, is the result of three converging sources who are born at the «head of the Sestriere», 2572 metres above sea level.
Essentially limestone composition, the mountains and massifs of the Verdon are representative of countries to the karst terrain (not to be confused the karst, with quartz which is a silica crystalline rock).
Eldest son of the Durance which it will mix his waters at the threshold of the Cadarache Château (South-West of Vinon-sur-Verdon), after a journey of 175 kilometers, its the most majestic course stretches over more than 40 kilometers of Gorges and Canyon, between Castellane and the Lac de Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon (which occupies the scope once named the great plain of the rooms, before the waters of the Lake in 1973.
Towering gorges and canyon with steep walls that is commonly called the Gorges du Verdon but which, in fact, is split into three distinct geographical areas:
•    the Pre-gorges: from Castellane to Pont de Soleils,.
•    Gorges: of Pont de Soleils to L'imbut,
•    the Canyon: from L'imbut to the Garret.

A bit of geography

The Verdon Canyon represents the most dangerous and the most inaccessible of this vast geographical entity, because at the bottom of the canyon, no passage exists: any trail, and still less a paved lane. When the Verdonniens speak of the Gorges, they actually designate a vast territory of North to the South, between the mountains of Chiran loop de La Mescla, and from East to West, from Castellane to the Lac de Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon. This large expanse of water with rocks, about 300 km2 belongs now to the Regional Natural Park of the Verdon, whose creation dates back to March 3 intended 1997.La geographic and morphological site remains rather mysterious when it was realised, seen from aircraft or on a satellite photo, a 'V' huge natural that marks this earth Provençale on which flows the Green torrent. One of the bars of this V extends from Castellane to the Mescla database (Verdon and Artuby river confluence), in its eastern part. The other leg of the V of the Mescla to Galetas, in its western part. In fact, a colossal V as the Verdon... It was also at La Mescla, the course of the torrent to change orientation. At its origin, it takes a northeasterly direction / Southeast, then leaves in a Southeast direction / Northwest (at the base of the V) to go to partially melt in the Lake of St. Croix to the Pas du Galetas, location of the current bridge of Aiguines. Ve

The mountains and massifs of the Verdon

They lie in a floor of average mountain which has elevations ranging from 500 to 1930 meters, very rich in panoramas of any kind, tormented, sometimes disfigured but of uncommon beauty.
The highlight of the area that concerns us is the Mourre de Chanier (located on the right bank, North of La-Palud-surVerdon) which stands 1930 meters. The Gorges du Verdon, under the influence of the Mediterranean climate, also undergo a close low-Alpine climatology.
At the level of the Carrejuan Clue, to the East, and the Château de Cadarache, in the West (near the dam and the nuclear Studies Center of the same name), it is administratively delimiting the departments of Alpes de Haute - Provence (04) to the North and the Var (83) to the South.
The vegetation, taking into account this alternation of climatic zones, is also very varied and storied, occupying the slopes according to their exposure. Characteristic phenomenon, we are witnessing a conversely vegetation particularly in the area of the Gorges and Canyon. Indeed, the threshold of the cliffs, most often in the shade throughout the year, promotes the development of Alpine species, while the fact of these same cliffs, more sunny, so warmer, sees more Mediterranean species flourish. Des adrets, to the South, Ubac, to the North, plains with the tops of the base of the cliffs at their top, a characteristic nature of each altitude is implanted and grows.

Flora and fauna of the gorges du Verdon: overview

We find then in turn, between 500 and 1930 meters, the most famous components of the flora of the Mediterranean such as the olive tree, lavender country, genet of Spain, medicinal and aromatic plants (thyme, Rosemary, savory, Sage...), the holm oak and downy oak, and composed flora, among other species, campanules, Alexis, of sumac, panicauts...
That progress by taking the altitude, alpine vegetation captured in turn by the sites. Thus, there are beeches, larches, firs, gentian, narcissus, red peonies, martagon lilies, the troll of Europe...
The presence of wild animals in the Gorges du Verdon, it has nearly disappeared over the years. Much denser and more numerous once wildlife is scarce. Some reasons for this phenomenon, but there are others: tourism increasingly growing traffic, the maneuvers of shots the barrel for the camp of Canjuers, green outside the motorcycle beaten, like biking outside the traditional channels, more and more over the region aircraft overflights Gorgespoaching...
Nevertheless, many species of birds of rocks may be identified. Swallows and Swifts, as the Ravens, have made this area their playground. The Eagle, threatened, survives somehow, like the Pilgrim Falcon, or, the short-toed eagle Jean Le Blanc.
Note, interesting, and rewarding, initiative developed near the village of Rougon. Indeed, vultures are reared in large aviaries. They are familiar with their environment and the region for about 2 years then, at the end of this period, the large birds are gradually released in the wilderness. The program for the introduction of new species represents a very valuable approach for the countries of the Verdon. Vultures, contrary to what their critics, do not attack humans, or animals. They are content to feed on carrion, i.e. of dead animals, where their nickname of scavengers. Deer, wild boar (whose presence is sometimes incongruous on some hiking trails during the hunting), squirrels, and voles are well represented. Just like a species found on all floors of the site, and widespread as the largest, composed by reptiles... Lizards, toads, snakes and vipers basically. Generally, except the latter species, the majority of the other withdraws more North, to spaces, most desert and less frequent in order to evolve in all serenity.

The populations of the Verdon

As for the man himself, its representation in the country of the Verdon is also threatened. A formerly large population consisted of several homes before the rural exodus. The wars and the headaches of various origins that shook the Provence (epidemics of plague, cholera) are partly responsible. Witnesses of the past, of the hamlets, sheep pens, or else still places to live totally deserted these days. Today, thanks to a policy of maintaining the population as well as by various actions of encouragement, the State and the Region are trying to remain in the country the men and women who live there so, prevent them from going to other economic centres that they would consider best at the bottom of themselves...
But, despite everything, and everything that will say or write on this land of Provence, rarely share the world, the visitor cannot help but feel this strange feeling and passion he experienced in contemplating, discovering and enjoying this lovait invaluable from everything right of original creation.
The amateur, the lover of this unspoiled nature in an environment that is not inherently hostile, will be able to find all the ingredients to satisfy his desires, his smallest joys, its smaller as its larger ambitions.
Regardless of the place in which it is located, the man (or woman) will always have the impression of being the first to discover this or that site, such or such curiosity. A little as if prior to coming, nothing had been discovered or developed to date, as if he was the (or the) first (e) to admire these natural treasures.
The enormity of landscapes has no equal that the prodigious adventure of the fantastic and the discovery. Verdon, myth, legend or reality, remains the highest expression of the origin of the mineral world and the living world. A universe with no other similar in which the four elements sacred life are water, rock, vegetation and light, fit together and harmoniously in the most perfect osmosis.

Provencal geology

The birth of the Verdon

It is difficult to deliver accurately the actual birth of the Verdon Gorges and Canyon date. Any story that has also its mysteries guard jealously anchored its secrets! Several theses and theories were put in place, sometimes clash. It cannot, therefore, only refer to the general geological studies that have been done by scientists, mainly since the beginning of the 20th century. Because it is quite clear to the world the mountains and Massifs of the Verdon, represent a very small part of the territory of our planet. Where the boldness to make certain and definitive conclusions.
However, what remains certain is that we can resume the theses and studies the formation of Provence and South-East of the France, overall.
The explanation of the formation of Gorges and Canyon is also valid for the constitution of the geomorphology of this vast land. What is certain, however, is that the composition of the mountains and massifs of the Verdon is essentially limestone. This is a golden rule!
Limestone is a sedimentary, formed by calcium carbonate rock dating back to the third period of the secondary era, called the Cretaceous. That is, less 110 at least 70 million years before our era.
Water is an essential agent of erosion in limestone terrain. Without water, there is neither caves, and there have not been not Gorge or canyon, or even of Verdon...
Water, limestone, the ammonites (molluscs of spiral form of the most remote eras of prehistory in the seabed), sea urchins and mollusks - found here in the fossil State--are representative of lands for the karst terrain.
Highlands located in the Balkans (in Carniola and Istria), formerly the territory of the former Yugoslavia, are entirely formed of Cretaceous rocks. They gave their name to this particular type of landscapes. "Karst" comes from the Celtic which means stone desert.
To understand the phenomenon of the creation of the mountains and massifs of the Verdon, it is right and necessary to perform an extraordinary journey through time, to about 210 million years prior to the year zero of Christendom!

Before, it was the sea...

At the era primary-650 at-250 million years ago, then popped a vast territory between the East coast of the current Spain, North Africa, and West of the Italy. The climate is tropical and promotes the appearance of lush vegetation and abundant: ferns and conifers. Shellfish, fish bone shells and shellfish make their first steps... The Verdon is so completely immersed and even does not exist...
Secondary, which extends from - 220 to-60 million years ago, Provence is covered by the waters. Only two emerging massifs: the Maures and Estérel.
This period is that of the Triassic in which marine sediments piled one on the other (like old newspapers that are stockpiled on each other) in forming important layers of dolomitic limestone. Provence completes his immersion in the Jurassic, but the shallow, then, promotes the development of coral, while in the relatively warm waters grow algae. All receive an intake of calcium carbonate.
The climate which is always tropical and aquatic wildlife thrives with the arrival of mussels giant, sea urchins, Ammonite and marine reptiles. All this will later form a genuine natural cement, privileged playground, in which the Verdon, then became a torrent River unleashed, dig, will spray and ravinera rocks of the regions it will cross. A little later, in the Cretaceous period, all 'geological ingredients' somehow, will be in place. The Alps have not yet undergone their first movement of accretion, while popping up the Pyrenees under the shock of a vertical boost leading the uprising in lower Provence.
At this point, we are still at least 70, less 65 million years... At the same time as regular uplift of Provence was returning to the South contained in surface waters, the alpine chain would shake in turn. Verdon would soon be born!

Era tertiary

The tertiary era, in the Eogene and Oligocene periods that represent important phases of these remote times, these phenomena from prehistoric times gave birth to a momentous event in geological history of Provence. Indeed, the Alps would shove the reliefs by a phenomenal erection, resulting in the lands of the South of the France in a movement of vertical accretion and roll back the sea further South. Sediments are then raised to plumb, limestones are cracking, water uses the slightest flaw to attempt a saving escape to the sea. A softening of temperature then causes violent precipitation that will accentuate these phenomena of the soil erosion. These agents of erosion are rain, wind, snow mainly and they will act with strength and vigor.Uncontrollable climate movements will reinforce the digging of the valleys. Atmospheric States becoming warmer, we are witnessing the emergence of many mammals. The exodus to cold of the Earth, or warmer regions depending on the species, pushes a part of the animal world to migrate to other parts of the globe. Some of these species have their respective descendants even today.
In the aftermath of this mini cataclysm due to the Alps, the water will return to overlap Provence when climatic factors will be somewhat wise.
This period of calm was short-lived on the scale of time that are millions of years, since in a last burst of pride future Alps were definitely arise from Earth.
At the end of the tertiary, Miocene - Pliocene, the sea is definitely pent-up South, towards the Mediterranean boundaries. This ultimate movement gives rise to many torrents, which more closely resemble devastating rivers to our current rivers, because they were going to find these areas of land suitable to satisfy their excesses and their destructive fury.

Finally, the Verdon appears

The ardour of these aquatic bodies swept surface sedimentary strata accumulated over millions of years, and cleared the land of the Alps and Provence crossed taking to the sea a phenomenal amount of erosion products.
Finally, in the era Quaternary, started between 4 and 2 million years (modern era), the Verdon will for its part to draw not without difficulty terrain we know him today. During this period, there was a succession of glacial phases and tropical phases. Erosion is huge, and the lands subject to the agents of erosion are water, dispute, cold, air pressure, winds, will see their relief take shape at the time.
It is in the midst of this climatic and geological turmoil that Verdon will also want to impose.
Geological periods which have followed over thousands of centuries past, and with the Alps due formation primarily the course of the torrent will emerge gradually to achieve a close plot tin that is offered to us to discover at the dawn of our nascent Millennium. Not forgetting to mention the fabulous straight from gorges of this original creation that we will soon have the opportunity to finally be able to admire!

And the cliffs? Scientific theories

The question: "-the cliffs already existed when du Verdon created its course? '' Or: '-is this the Verdon which has bled over high cliffs rock to break a passage? '' Or even: "-Le Verdon has benefited from an existing fault to deepen its trace and make his way? ''...
The questions remain still. Overall, we can say that the cliffs are probably born during the thrust of the Pyrenees (in the secondary, the Cretaceous period). A pre-existing fault should already be in place. As they were submerged, the cliffs, a precursor the Verdon current had to be formed and began, then the size of the cliffs. But it is certainly with the completion of the final Alpine burst that these mineral masses have sprung of Earth. This primary flaw already had a direction northeast/Southeast (Castellane - the Mescla), and Southeast/Northwest (La Mescla - Moustiers-Sainte-Marie), otherwise, it is hardly likely that he was otherwise. Without going into the details of the continental drift theory of Alfred WEGENER (in 1936), which would complicate the explanation of the formation of Provence and South-East of the France. Also, personally, and having got to know some riddles of the Verdon, I will refer me quite with Roger VERDEGEN theory which reinforces my position with regard to the training and the Gorges du Verdon. Indeed, according to VERDEGEN, dinosaurs, which lived during the Cretaceous period, were not present at the formation of the Canyon although present at the scene for several hundreds of years... As for the geographer and physicist French Elysée RECLUS, it is water and only water under pressure who dug the cliffs. For my part, I admit that I fail to see how a stream could flow in height and have a bed above its normal level. And that the slope of the course takes place in a movement upward and not downward, which would reject the story of the birth of the Alpine massif. My position is thus made, but maybe I'm wrong? Nevertheless here are the items that I offer on the subject that interests us.

Theory of the author

The Gorge (and the Canyon) Verdon are created as follows: during the uplift of the Alps and the Pyrenees, and therefore of Provence, stand in cliffs at the same time that sweeping a river-torrent mi-ange, half demon, trapped in her bed too narrow. All this occurring late tertiary or early Quaternary. During the uprising of Provençal and Alpine massifs, the impetuous torrent, responsible for thousands of cubic meters of silt and erosion products, will try to clear a passage into the Valley of the Durance, up down in a straight line South, stopped in its tracks by the mountains that arise before him.
The location that nature conceded him then seems it too and rait to satisfy its own requirements. Even his ambitions! Of along then the bed has been granted, it will spray the obstacles that stand in its path, do tip rocks, shoving the Glues (natural geologic barriers) in tapping, gnaw and polishing the cliffs at their threshold. Not content to leave it at that, in his race to the sea, it will dig, excavate, raviner land of the regions it will cross to try to finally establish his career. Force and violence of the flow of its tumultuous waters sweep with incredible force throughout his journey. You can assess its flow at some 2 to 3000 cubic metres second to Quaternary. At more than 800 m3 at the time of what we consider as prehistory.

The devastating floods of the Verdon

But over its own history, it is not uncommon to find catastrophic floods, well after the training period. It is only since the 15th century as we know it, with more or less precision, these disorders natural in the course of which the flow of the waters could exceed the 1,400 m3 second: 1471, 1551, 1651, 1702, 1765, 1843, and closer to us in 1926, 1951, and most recently in 1994.
In addition to the last great flood which dates back to 1978, and which would be due to a release of dam of the works of Castillon and Chaudanne, without effective control of the released airspace, the flood of November 1994 (15 and 16) was consistent and devastating. Indeed, during this period, heavy rainfall fell several days away, and without interruption, in the Southeast. Waters reaching more to flow naturally, dams upstream of Castellane receiving phenomenal amounts of water were forced to deal with delicate situations.
The floodgates of dams liberated large quantities of water, and at the same time, rainwater is not evacuating natural waterway came swell the flow of the Verdon. The force of the current was then evaluated to almost 1000 second m3. The Verdon out of bed at various points in his career but, it is in the Gorges du Verdon damage were the most important: a part of the right bank to the tune of Carrejuan road was damaged, access were demolished, the Estellie (on the trail of the Gorges) bridge was washed away, fields were flooded and campsites along the Verdon partially drowned under water.
Castellane, stigma of this flood are still visible. District tennis, and equipment which were located on the left bank, were literally swept away by the force of the current. But, if it is a real certainty, it is precisely that Verdon, from its origins to our days, has experienced two courses and two flow rates:
•    a course and a natural flow of his birth in the years 1946/48,
•    a course and a flow forced or controlled, since 1948 with the building on his journey of five dams. Their buildings are spread out in time, but the first of them, the work of Castillon, was commissioned in 1948.
For more than half a century e.D.F. (electricity of France), watch on the destiny of this stream, stealing her passion and energy, to produce precisely. Mastering in his role of Alpine torrent, channeling it to better monitor. Could not tame it, it is now almost domesticated. What millennia had or had not done, man, even once, felt more than less, forced to do! But none of this will make us forget what natural phenomenon has been the Verdon, and what natural monument remains. Sometimes wrecker or destructive, he was also a builder River. The sculptor and the supervisor of a natural curiosity without rival in Europe. A monster to the green dress who knew how to create grandiose and bucolic, Dante and vertiginous websites. A colossus who brand his imprint on this land of Provence. Ultimate testimony of original creation in a universe with no other similar: the Gorges and Canyon of the Verdon.

The Verdon at the dawn of the new Millennium

The Verdon is no longer, in a manner General, this torrent River from the past then its flash floods could be devastating or frightening. The stability of its course is recent and is located at the beginning of the 19th century. His bed is finally drawn and its course presents the current relief that we know him, and that we can admire in all points of the mountains and massifs which form this fabulous region.
Rare are the floods now. But, nevertheless, they can reproduce. The rains of spring and fall are contained in five main artificial lakes put water on his route. Particularly in deductions located north of Castellane, since the two upstream dams actually regulate the course of the Verdon, from Castillon until his loss in the Durance.
Controlled overflows do not often exceed 200 to 500 second m3 to the height of the release of water from dams, either in the spring, and particularly in the month of April when the final melting of snow, and in autumn, during which rains of winter. The course of the Verdon extends over 175 kilometers, since its source in the Massif des Trois Évêchés, to its loss in the Durance. The cliffs hold prisoner the Alpine torrent, between Castellane and the Lake of Sainte-Croix, a distance of 48 km (approx).
The most beautiful treasures of the mineral creation we are presented on twenty kilometres of unreal gorges and a fabulous canyon. Domesticated, tamed over the years 1946, five dams were erected on the course of the Verdon. These are, upstream of the Gorge and Castellane, the works of Castillon and Chaudanne. The waters of Lac de Castillon implementation and putting into production of the dam are carried out in 1948, drowning at the same time the former hamlet of Castillon disappeared. It is in December 1952 the factory and Chaudanne-Demandolx Lake are in turn implemented water.

Quick return on water development

The hydroelectric development of the high Verdon is virtually completed at this date, and that Bas-Verdon will therefore be engaged. Downstream of Moustiers-Ste-Marie, and the extension of the plain of the rooms, the withholding of Gréoux-les-Bains and the waterbody of Esparron-Gréoux were completed in 1963. Quinson and Ste-Croix-du-Verdon dams will be between 1973 and 1974. The Lake of Ste - Croix - du - Verdon was activated between the spring and the autumn 1973. During this period, an irrigation canal is constructed from the restraint of Esparron-Gréoux, and one addition book, the Verdon Canal, joined the Canal de Provence, 40 kilometres more to the South. The abstraction of the waters at a place called "wood of the Defends".
The Ste-Croix Lake is the largest body of water in the region with an area of 2500 hectares and a water reserve capable of holding 770 million meters cubic, including a capacity said to be worth 300 million m3 available. What makes the second artificial restraint of France after the Lac de Serre-Ponçon (created in the Hautes-Alpes, and that bathes the banks downstream from the town of Embrun, 110 km north of Castellane).
The names of the lakes and dams are generally derived from the names of places (villages or communes) on which they were created.

A note from the past...

Perhaps you have the opportunity to hear this phrase uttered by former verdonniens. These words filled with nostalgia: "-How Green was my Valley...» Indeed, this refers to the past.Past, not so far from us, which dates back to the years 1973... Tail water of St. Croix, the dam of the same name, built in the withdrawal of the Gorges of Baudinard stands, from a height of 95 meters above the foundations of the building, and 14 meters wide header of book. The power plant produces 200 million kW per year. The production powerhouses from waters can reach 210 m3/second throughput.
The first technical tests of the dam occurred as early as the spring of 1973. The water, after having partially occupied the plain rooms, then withdrew. But, between June and December 1973, the plain was filled, and the water then occupied its new domain. In 1974, the dam and the Lake of Sainte Croix du Verdon were officially put into production. The waters of the Lake now covers this immense natural area that our elders called the Plaine-des-rooms. It was covered by crops and the land offered many productions. Trees were grown for their intended fruit, either the direct feed in the form of dried fruit, or processed for the development of oils or liqueurs.
In particular the walnut and almond trees. Verdon had fertilized by the contribution of alluvial valley and spread peacefully in the middle of the depression before joining the low-Gorges.
If, today, the Lake brings to tourists and visitors of many joys and recreation without common measure, if this scope is an indisputable ornament to decorate the sites of Verdon, and if, finally, companies and traders withdraw from this windfall a source of substantial income, do not forget that the Lake has engulfed. Let us, wouldn't that only a few moments, instead of the occupants of the village, and the inhabitants of the Valley at this time. What disorientation, and what agony!

Sacrifices of the historical and natural heritage

As this realization is made at the price of heavy casualties and many sacrifices. Indeed, the "Fontaine l 'Evêque" or "Fountain of Ross' (from the name of the River, the Ross, partly underground, flowing under the Canjuers Plateau), whose clarity of the wave had elevated it to the prestigious one of the finest sources of resurgence of Europe (source?), with a constant average rate of 4,800 liters of water per second, thereby disappeared. It was built around 1634-1636 on the location of the ruins of an ancient monastery from the 13th century, he also absorbed by the water. The resurgence broke out in broad daylight just steps from the village of the Bauduen. The ancient Roman of Aiguines bridge, or 'Pont de Garuby', who had survived more than 2,000 years of history of the world, has been buried under waves. This testimony of the times gone represented an important land communications between various regions, the var coast, focus and provided access in the direction of the Mediterranean. Also, engulfed the former village of les Salles-sur-Verdon which lies now in 40 meters of water under the surface of the Lake, with its chapels Provencal, its cemetery, its past and the soul of a canton. Only the Bell of the village was spared as seen in the Church in the new village.Missing the orchards, fields, grasslands and campaigns are rooms. Not forgetting the land and houses which were covered also by waters on Commons villages Bauduen and Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon. Only a few objects have been saved from these villages as stones the wash-house and the fountain of the rooms to be rebuilt prominently within the walls of the new village. The Salles-sur-Verdon is the village which has paid the heaviest tribe to the creation of the Lake of Ste-Croix: 1000 1400 hectares of the territory of the commune lie today under the artificial restraint. Rebuilt in 1973, at 400 metres more height of the ancient Hamlet, at the top of the banks, at the threshold of Aiguines, the village is the newest of France since it was inaugurated with great pomp in 1974. Today, walking around the streets of this new site, can still discover it and there, old stones of the past, to remember that the Valley, now blued by the waters of the Lake, was yet Green! Emerald green in the image of the torrent that had served it during thousands of years: the Verdon.

The Lakes of the Verdon at the heart of human projects

Like other lakes Verdon, the Ste Croix-du-Verdon waterbody is important seaside resort whose tourist affluence spreads between June and September, with spikes of attendance in July and August. Thus, depending on the season, fishermen, swimmers, boats and pedalos, engage in recreational aquatic and nautical, providing pleasant moments of relaxation in the heart of the summer season. Hotels, campsites and cottages, to spend pleasant stays in the vicinity of the vast lake. Throughout its history, the man met Verdon, living at his side, who plays with him for the rhythm of the seasons. It will took the man from the beginning of the 20th century so that the first attempts to deface (let's not be afraid of the words) the site see the light of day.
The first to be interested in the Verdon were engineers who saw in the ardour of this torrent, a valuable boon for the production of energy in the service of the 'electricity fairy'. Precursor projects to block the course of the River, using the force of his current, dates back to the year 1896!
The second category of individuals, was mainly made up of developers, before the nascent ecology happen in broad daylight, who saw there, with the arrival of a growing tourism, a manna of heavenly to take advantage of this new form of settlement. They also wished to use the Verdon. Make it profitable to build anarchic way, and in spite of all good sense, infrastructure able to return some profits during a mostly summer tourism of leisure-oriented. Therefore, each, and others, began to outline projects all more wacky than others to quench their gain! Fortunately, some policies (men and women), and the majority of the local population, as well as associations for the defence of nature, is pitched against these projects.
They saw there, for most part, projects or proposals which were more intended to destroy the sites to keep them really. After years of consolidation and restructuring areas (from the 1982-83 years), the classification of the Verdon intervened in 1989 and put a temporary brake on expectations of these conquerors of a new kind. The previous year, in 1988, the right bank of the Verdon, in the North, has been integrated to the Reserve Géologique des Alpes de Haute-Provence. Is that in 1990 only a ministerial decree was issued to hang in the Verdon its label of "Site". And, it is finally in March 1997, that Ms. Corinne LEPAGE, then Minister of the environment - that can be here thank - sign finally decree making these mountains and massive, the Parc Naturel régional du Verdon, everything the world expected and whose headquarters was installed in Moustiers-Ste-Marie.
Meanwhile, 1980-1998 (with the very high voltage dhow-Carros line project), other projects of all kinds have failed to see the light of day and remove the Verdon part of its beauty and its natural integrity. With the recent creation of the Park, new generations will long enjoy the pleasure of discovery, and unceasingly renewed enchantment afforded by this authentic jewel that nature has left us in legacy. The God of the green waters will no longer a myth, but a very real entity capable of delight all lovers of true nature, without artifice and no frills.

The battle of the canyons: Verdon vs Colorado

By definition, the man likes to draw comparisons. Thus, given that it was impossible to find a direct opponent to the Verdon on the old continent, it took cross the Atlantic to find a rival to our Emerald torrent, in American Earth. It opposed him the Canyon of Colorado! Be baptized this opposition of the name of: "the battle of Canyons '... Although very beautiful and also splendid, the Gorges of the Tarn, of the Ardèche, and canyons of Cacoueta and Holcarté (in the Franco-Espagnol Basque country), could challenge the comparison. The word canyon, which can be written canon, comes from the Spanish meaning: deep gorge or ravine carved by a river. Steep rock walls that rise above a river bed. In the majority of cases, the canyon was born after a watercourse has operated a natural crack in the ground. This crack, called also according to its importance, joint or lapiaz, is worked by the torrential waters for millennia.
Once dug, ravinée and enlarged, the river moved there permanently. On the threshold of the cliffs, the resultant obstacles riffle, of chaos, of collapsed rocks that litter the riverbed.
In regards to the Verdon-Colorado confrontation, the only elements of comparisons are on their tracks, their slopes, their lengths, and the number of rapids found on their respective courses.
(Colorado River is a river of the United States which takes its source in the Rocky Mountains and flowing through the States of Colorado, Utah and Arizona, before flowing into the Gulf of California. It has main tributary the Green River, it receives mid-term at the height of Canyon Lands.)

Verdon: the origins of the name

The origin of the word Verdon is lost in the mists of time... The etymological appellation comes from different sources, it is the case to say. Origin of a Ligurian dialect, sometimes across the Celtic, Franc, or the old Provençal, and Langue d'Oc. Vardø was the Celts, one of the many gods of war that they had and that they worshiped. What is certain, if the origin of the name is less, it is that the writing and pronunciation of the word have changed, then evolved over time. Thus, the spelling of the name could be write gudgeons, Vardø, Vasan, vardoun.Some have pushed the research (and sometimes vice...) to write vertdon, or even still versdon. Finally, all spellings could be admitted in the past, now, and since now several decades, VERDON has emerged! e

The color of the Verdon

Has often asked the question why the watercourse had this characteristic color which makes it different from other rivers. Several elements are involved. This is not a definitive statement, it is one suggestion among others. Some conclusions issued by one or the other appeared sometimes wacky. Do not forget that the origin of the torrent is at its source a stream of mountain, in perpetual motion, therefore oxygen permanently. In addition, Lakes receiving the waters of the Verdon are still operating by the mere fact of the turbinages of power of the dams. It is not the backwaters. The oxygen contained in water is in perpetual motion, too, and unceasingly renewed. The most plausible conclusion, would be to say that this particular colouring of the Verdon, is due to algae, algae and micro-organisms in all limestone points site. These elements perfectly absorb the Sun's light to restore it fully by a chemical phenomenon quite natural. In fact these combinations provide this water coloration that differentiates it from others by this deep emerald green to draw similar stamp. Added to this, plants of green rocks, reflections coming to melt at the surface of water, and you get this color which belongs only to the Verdon, making him, or rather, making it honour its motto of "God's green waters. A distinction that Colorado, him, is very far from getting...

The history of the Verdon in Provence - prehistoric discoveries

The General history of the mountains and massifs of the Gorges du Verdon is intimately linked to that of Provence. From the earliest times, this vast territory has been inhabited. During prehistoric times, man is present. The caves (or balms) offer a safe shelter. There are many a have been identified. So far the oldest traces were found in an area between Castellane and Canjuers, La Palud-sur-Verdon, Châteauneuf-les-Moustiers.
The remains of the Paleolithic have been updated: human skeletons, Flint trimmed, teeth of bear, deer bones, pottery debris. These are all signs that do not lie on the primitive settlement of the Gorges area who gave testimonies of the past to contribute to knowledge of the history of man. The caves prehistoric quinson, discovered more recently delivered from beautiful evidence of this human presence, which dates back to some 400,000 years... The walled Cave de Montpezat has been inhabited over 3000 years ago. Of many balms (caves) then offer shelter to the men of the Paleolithic (-35,000 to-10,000 years) which also harbour farms first, consisting of goats and sheep. Archaeologists were able to locate and ascertain the traces of primitive peoples who crossed, or settled, by occupying these lands.
In addition to the already mentioned, there is tangible evidence: walls of caves painted, insecure tools, bones and pottery dating from the Neolithic period, i.e. from 6000 to 2500 years before Jésus Christ.
The Barremian, one of the periods of the history of the Earth on the floor of the lower Cretaceous (-70 million years ago) through the Hauterivian, Aptian, takes its name from Barrême, small city north of Castellane, on the «Route Napoleon» leading to Digne.
The Lagoziens (from Central Europe), then Chasseens (from Italy of Northern and Central Europe), Ligurian (from the Italy of the North, which traces of occupations are substantial in the Gorges area, particularly in the vicinity of Castellane), and the Celts (from Northern Europe) are well represented. Later, the Franks and the Romans Calltree not to conquer the Provence, just like the Phocians (came from the city of Phocaea, today Phoca in Turkey, who also founded Marseilles - Massalia - in 599 BC, on the lands of the Lacydon). All these peoples have undeniably left evidence of their respective and successive passages.

The Roman era

Although the Mediterranean coast has more colonized by the Greeks to ensure the maritime trade of their counters, the inner land was more under the influence of Rome. The different epochs of occupations are numerous and obvious trademarks of this past are significant.
The Roman presence, it is made in two stages. From the beginning of the 1st century, under Jules César and the territorial conquests of Rome inland to secure communications pathways in the Empire. For example, the current military camp located on the Canjuers Plateau was an important military space. The armies that train there currently are only the heirs of the glorious Roman Legions. The plateau, and the camp was called «Canjuers» in memory of Jules César. Riez Roman columns, to the Roman road which still crosses the mountains of the Verdon North of Chasteuil, of Rougon, Moustiers Ste-Marie and which connects Digne, remains preserved in the regional museums, and mainly that of Riez, there again, the testimonies are numerous. Not to mention the origin of the name of Aiguines, pulling his surname from Greek Aegospotami Ina, i.e. "the land of the goats", and de Castellane, whose word Petra Castellana is of Roman origin, just like his first name by baptism which was Salinae, i.e., La Saline. The ruins of the ancient city of Petra Castellana are clearly visible at the top of the rock overlooking the Provencal town. Among the peoples who settled in the area in some way, we will retain the QEII, Celtic ethnicity, who made laugh its capital. They dominated and politically ruled vast territories for many years.

Pax romana

A few decades later, Franks, better armed and better organized than the peoples has seen until then, will face then submit the QEII, at the same time as the other human groups represented in the region. The Franks conquered huge areas and imposed their civilization. The second phase of Roman occupation lasted until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 487 a.d. The Roman Eastern Empire continuing to exist much later, until the beginnings of the Ottoman Empire. In Provence, and regard for the countries of Verdon, this period will be prosperous. Rome will implement genuine institutions in its Provincia Romana which became, Provence. The Romans withdraw after sitting their domination and creating actual administrative structures, as their purpose was also to preserve land relations between Italy, the Alps and the Mediterranean coast and the Pyrenees by their inside routes. This period of calm and prosperity was qualified as throughout the Empire - Pax Romana, in other words, the Roman peace. The Romans undertook the construction many channels often built on the bases of existing Mule, or on the "salt road" old and first caravans. Or, on paths used by shepherds and their flocks, or on the foundations of ancient Hellenic (Greek) channels. These axes will cross the territory from side to side, linking Provence to the rest of the world:
•    the Via Salinaria (the saline road), between Salinae (Castellane) and Château-Arnoux,.
•    via Ventiana, (the way of Vence) between Cemenelum (Cimiez, district north of Nice, Roman capital of the Alpae Maritimae), Vence and Sisteron
•    direct access to the Via Aurelia (track one) in the Via Domitia (Domitian way) and to via Julia (route Julienne),
•    the Domitian way linked Nice to Perpignan: track Julienne in the Maritime Alps, it became route one in the depart-ments of the Var and Vaucluse.

Track Juilienne

Track Julienne (or way of Vence) we are interested more particularly since she ran from Nice, Cannes, Vence, Castellane and Riez. One of his tracks, between Castellane and Riez, crossed the Gorges du Verdon on the high plateaus of the ubac. Some remains are still visible, and a hiking trail (GR 4 c)) borrows from ancient portion of this draille. From Castellane to Riez, an offshoot of the Giulia route passed through Chasteuil, Rougon, the Plateau of Sueches, the Plan de Châteauneuf, Rocherousse, to join Moustiers-Ste-Marie (Verdon right bank).Especially since, in the Peutinger Table Hamburg humanist Conrad PEUTINGER published in 1508 trace the routes of the Roman Empire, from the work a monk of Colmar had made in 1265 who, himself, had worked on a Roman document prepared by Agrippa, son-in-law of Emperor Augustus) one realizes very well that a track ran from Draguignan, passed through the Roman bridge of the Verdon (at Garuby(, old bridge of Aiguines), earned Alebaece (or QEII Apollinares - Riez), Nymphae Griselicae (Gréoux-les-Bains), move then either northward along the Durance, either East to reach Salinae (Castellane), or even westward to reach Aquae Sextia (Aix-en-Provence).
But Provence was long marked in its history by (the many political upheavals. Over the centuries, its inhabitants will also face the vagaries of the weather, the worst periods causing famines. Addressing epidemics, including plague that won half of the populations, and to deal with many evils which are fought, the marking of deep and painful wounds.

Christianity and the realms of Provence

It is for these reasons that Christianity will be able to penetrate very easily at the end of the Roman Empire. In the 5th century a.d., the Church, preaching the good word, will put in place a real ecclesiastical administration that sweeping barbaric beliefs, conquered Provence with different means to achieve objectives as different than those of the past.
It is the 5th century also monks from the Abbey of Lérins (venus of the monastery of Lerins Islands, off the coast of Cannes), mow Monasterium - the monastery - which would later become the famous city of Faïence, in other words, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. This relative calm will be short-lived, because already, new turmoil are born.
In 810, Salinae, the former place of settlement of the current Castellane, is submerged by a devastating flood of the Verdon.
During the 12th and 13th centuries, the order of the poor Knights of Christ, otherwise known as, the Templars, signed their undeniable presence in the Verdon leaving many traces of their passage, including Aiguines and Trigance. They resided in buildings some of which are still visible. They were also very influential and enabled many chapels which survive today. One of them, St-Thyrse, located near the village of Robion, was built in 1118, date of the creation of the order of the Temple. The County of Provence was often tossed around in history, passing from hand to hand of the local lords over alliances and conquests. It is in the Provence of owning two coats of arms, in other words, two arms. The first most commonly encountered blood and gold, that we owe to the Catalan Princes when Provence was under their rule. The second, that of the House of Anjou included the Fleur de Lys of the Crown of France on a blue background.

Middle ages

The approach of the middle ages, the region plunges into a semblance of torpor generalized, and commercial, linguistic, literary and cultural activities are also fastest than in the past.
But in the aftermath of this period of history, and especially from the 15th century, and the 16th, a prosperous awakening will occur. «Sleepy» sectors of commerce, literature, the arts and culture, agriculture and trade reborn. As a result, we are witnessing the construction of forts, new fortifications are emerging, and, building many castles will somehow the guarantors of this territorial sovereignty. Sovereignty that will compete with each other, and once again, the Lords of the region. The towns are coming back, cities grow and develop, campaigns are well cultured. Fruit and grain crops thrive. Over time, we are witnessing the introduction of new crop species. Apart from the olive tree, is introduced the potato, almond trees and other species of trees. The breeding of sheep and goats intensifies. However, in the 16th century, the Gorges region will experience new invasions and wars. The armies of Charles Quint, the wars of religion with the Huguenots. Invasions, looting and massacres are the regular batch of cities and villages.
Unlike wars of Religions that were bloody in Castellane, starting point of the insurgency, the 1789 Revolution will be feeling actually than in the cities of importance. Still, that the effects of this crucial passage in our history arrived in these countries away from Paris until 1792. It is true that towards the end of the 18th and early 19th century, that the region of the Gorges du Verdon will find a certain balance, a certain prosperity, and a period of calm, wars, looting and massacres. Is Emperor Napoleon not stopped to Castellane after having landed at Golfe-Juan on his return from Elba Island?

Era of industrialization

At the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, industrialization and progress will however responsible for the rural exodus. The inhabitants leave their homes, their land peasants, and commit to a new destination they thought better... moving to the emerging industrial centers of the region of the centre and South of the France. The villages then included a dense and active population.
Nowadays, there is this state of abandonment, as some towns have seen their population decrease of more than 60%. Others still, in which there is more one! Blatant example, Châteauneuf-les-Moustiers (North of La Palud-sur-Verdon), and city, near the Demandolx. But, their stories are linked from a distant past, the gorges du Verdon, know as the Provence, the desertification of the countryside and the abandonment of the land for the benefit of industrial progress that will drain towards the major cities such as Marseille, Toulon, Nice and the coast, or more central as Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Arles, hundreds of men and women who committed themselves full of hopes at the meeting of the 20th century.

The 1st and 2nd world wars

An event which caused a gaping wound in all homes in Provence, was the first global conflict of the century. Provence soldiers left many do their duty of soldiers going swell the ranks of the French army during the first world war. There is nothing extraordinary in this phenomenon since not forget, Provence was French for more than 5 centuries. But the majority of them will perish on the battlefields of Europe, and women remained widowed and lonely, abandoned their lands, their property and their villages to be direct to other places.
During World War II, which lasted in Provence from 1942 to 1944, the coastline was further marked by war and invasion Germano-Italienne, the inside. Major cities remained under the yoke of the occupier, first Italian, then German, campaigns were most often the theatre of bloody reprisals. Of many maquis resistance fighters took part in the conflict, leading to countless actions of sabotage, and concerned to defend their lands at the risk of their lives, groups retreated inland in the mountains.
Rugged and unknown aggressor reliefs allowed them to extend the actions of the Resistance. Enemy retaliation were sometimes terrible. I want to proof the hamlet of Brandis, in the pre-Canyon, which was burned by the Germans in 1944. And, made more memorable and excruciating, the massacre of students of St-Julien-du-Verdon by the nazis, Juin1944 11-5:00 in the morning. We must never forget August 15, 1944, it is on the land of Provence that was held the landing of Allied Forces majori-spectator Franco-American (Cap du Dramont, Var), and that this action would create a new breath of freedom on the nations
of Europe as a whole: the landing of Provence.

Tourism in the Verdon

The last war, the years were quieter and more lenient times also. But the damage was done. The centuries have never been very favourable to this inner Provence which emerged bruised many misadventures. Life again, organized after the war, and the Verdon became a source of contemporary concerns for a new industry which, even if it has sometimes a few annoyances, nevertheless has many advantages. Indeed, since the 1960s, settled a new way of life with the arrival of this modern industry is tourism. Recreation and summer tourism who knows a constant progression and which represents an essential activity in the region.
The "estrangers» (c'est-à-dire, les touristes, les visiteurs, les hôtes venus d'ailleurs) became the factor of some economic development. Guaranteeing the contribution of income and essential resources for the continuation of certain activities, but also the development of property of others, and this tourist windfall brings to the region geared towards the future prosperity.
We need infrastructure sufficiently developed to ensure the good reception of the tourist populations and their accommodation. Also to improve road infrastructure, from those that already exist. All to be done respecting the integrity of sites, landscapes, of the environment, while meeting the requirements of modernism and civilization in its inexorable March of conquest...
These are the tasks assigned to our men and women politicians who will be a duty to solve, and it will also be an additional burden that the Park will have to study, but also to master, in the coming years. Perhaps, also, why, the relief of the mountains and massifs of the Verdon is the image of his past: a region tormented, geographically disfigured, but how rich and heartwarming that leaves no one indifferent!
But this peaceful contemporary industry is tourism in its whole, boast also the merits and expertise of an entire people.
The habits and customs, crafts, folklore, emphasis and the local picturesque facondes, and an art of living typical "Provençal" is worth a thousand times better for the well-being of man and all the struggles. Apart from our daily strife, worldwide, when it does not, copy the jealously want the Provencal... Undeniably!

Saint-Pancrace - Digne
Bléone Valley - Digne

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