1. Walking days
We took five and a half days to walk to the Gorge du Verdon. From the UK, getting to St-Raphaël takes
another day. Arriving at the gorge at lunchtime, it might be just possible to get back to
Nice the same day. Walking in the gorge itself and then on the GR4 to Castellane is thoroughly
recommended but will take two extra days walking.
2. Getting there and away
From London: Eurostar & TGV to St-Raphaël. Nice and Marseilles are the closest airports.
Getting away from the gorge is tricky, most tourists come in camper vans. The Tourist Office
say there is a summer Shuttle Bus from Point Sublime to Castellane (Autocars Delaye
492 342290, departs 18.30). From Castellane (which has a tourist office) there's a daily bus
to Nice. Or get a taxi (as we did) to St-André-les-Alpes and take the little mountain
Train des Pignes into Nice,
where there are trains and an international airport. (Note, however, that you can't hail a taxi
in Castellane as they are all pre-booked. Ask at your hotel or in the Tourist Office.)
3. Books, maps etc
Overall planning map: IGN 165 (scale 1:100,000). This has the whole of the GR49 and almost
all the GR4 into Castellane. Because this was our first GR walk we also bought the 1:25,000
maps; 3544 ET, 3543 ET, 3543 OT, 3442 OT and 3542 OT. They are lovely maps (very good armchair reading),
and on the first day showed us some useful short cuts to minimise the walk into
Bagnols-en-Forêt. But you could do without them. The whole walk was just under 90
miles; our average was a little over 10 miles a day.
4. The route
It's useful to speak some French if you want to book places in advance, though on our walk
in April 2010 we would have been quite OK even if we hadn't booked. Or it might be possible
to book in English via a web site. The prices are for double rooms. There are plenty of opportunities for
wild camping, if you're happy to carry everything (and you wouldn't need the deviation on day 1). If you've not done a long distance walk
before, this is a good path to start on, with pleasant accommodation, and no over-strenuous
days. The paint and signposts are generally good.
Arrival: St-Raphael: Hotel de Flore, 56 Rue de la Liberté (tel 0033 494 959000, €72);
(convenient for the coming off the train and starting the path).
Day 1: As we couldn't find anywhere to stay in Le Planestel, we took the GR51 and some roads to
Bagnols-en-Forêt (Au Relais Provencal, tel 494 504957,
Day 2: Tourettes: L'Escale Provencale, (on the D219, tel 494 504957,
firstname.lastname@example.org, €89 including breakfast); (pretty room and garden, helpful landlady).
Day 3: Mons: there is a relaxed cafe/hotel
Le Petit Bonheur which we hadn't found on the net; the phone is 0033 494 763809.
There are also a few chambres d'hotes in Mons, and I was sent a sheet of names and numbers
by the Office de Tourisme (494 763954) there. We stayed half a kilometre out of town with
M. Rive (494 763644, email@example.com, €74
Day 4: Nowhere in La Bastide; so, 2k south: La Roque-Esclapon: Le Coq en Pâte (494 768004, €44 with breakfast)
Day 5: Trigance: Le Vieil Amandier (494 856836, firstname.lastname@example.org,
€63 demi pension per person).
Day 6: Point Sublime: Auberge du Point Sublime: (492 836035, email@example.com,
€63 demi pension per person).
Day 7: Gorge du Verdon: share a taxi to Le Chalet de la Maline (about €33), and walk back through the Gorge.
Stayed again at Auberge du Point Sublime.
Day 8: We stayed in Castellane at a chambre d'hote with Mme Vincent
(492 833785, €52 with breakfast).