The World’s Greatest Canyons: Verdon Gorge, France

I’m a fan of the Grand Canyon, but I’ve visited there a few times now and I’m looking for something new. Where can I find a canyon that puts the Grand to shame?

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The Verdon Gorge isn’t the world’s longest or deepest canyon—it plunges down just over 2,000 feet, and runs for a bit more than 12 mile—but it might well be the world’s prettiest. The Verdon River, at the gorge’s bottom, is a clear, surreal blue, and together with the canyon’s limestone cliffs it draws paddlers, climbers and other adventurers.

A:For hikers, the GR4 trail of the French “Grandes Randonnées” system follows the canyon’s north rim, drops down to the valley floor and then climbs up and out again. There are also ten short day-hiking trails in the gorge. The nearest villages are Aiguines and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie—both are equipped with hotels and detailed canyon information. Those without a car can catch buses to the Verdon Gorge area from the major hub of Marseilles.

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