Verdon Canyon Trail Running Race, Provence, France
Will Ross, March 10, 2015
Located 75km west of Nice, the Verdon Canyon (Gorge du Verdon) is prized for its remarkable geography and turquoise waters. As well as being a hotspot for hikers and rock climbers, the Verdon Canyon serves up challenging terrain and a kind of purifying summer heat – conditions that are revered by elite trail runners and local veterans. For those looking to take on the limestone scape and 700m-deep canyon walls on foot, June is the best time to visit Verdon Canyon for trail running.
During June, the region plays host to the Verdon Canyon Xtrem (formerly Verdon Canyon Challenge), a trail running race with a variety of marked routes that carve through the iconic landscape. The race has been held for over a decade and will regularly have professional athletes at the start line of its ultra distance event.
For 2015, four new routes have been planned.
- 83km, 4400 vertical metres: the Grand Tour du Verdon. Starts Friday 12th June. Entry fee: €83.
- 56km, 3000m: Between the two banks. Starts Friday 12th June. Entry fee: €60.
- 30km, 1400m: the trail of Montdenier. Starts Saturday 13th June. Entry fee: €30.
- 10km, 550m: the trail of the Rocks. Starts Saturday 13th June. Entry fee: €12.
Accommodation in Verdon Canyon
Aiguines has an affordable caravan site at Camping de L’Aigle for the luxury of a shower and basic sleeping facilities within 3 minutes walk of the start line. As well as offering caravans for rent, Camping de L’Aigle also offer furnished tents, wigwams and sites to pitch you own tent. The site has a restaurant that serves simple dishes and hosts the pasta party on the Saturday night of the event.
Alternatively, Moustiers also have accommodation for trail runners in the Verdon Canyon.
Getting to Augines
The nearest transports hubs are Nice and Marseilles. I’ve travelled to the race by train twice – I had to get the full European experience. From London, first take the Eurostar from St. Pancras to Paris (Gare du Nord), then traverse across town to Gare de Lyon and head south. A slower night train can work too – idNIGHT TGV is the service to look out for (a moving nightclub). This train will take you to Toulon, from where you can hop on a local train for Les Arcs and the bus to Aups, a 20-minute cab from the race.