Trigance: 72km (45 miles) S of Digne-les-Bains, 20km (12 miles) W of Castellane, 43km (27 miles) NW of Draguignan, 85km (53 miles) E of Manosque; La-Palud-sur-Verdon: 64km (40 miles) S of Digne-les-Bains, 25km (16 miles) W of Castellane, 60km (37 miles) NW of Draguignan, 66km (41 miles) E of Manosque

Created in 1997 and thus one of France’s newer nature reserves, the Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon ( possesses more than 700km (450 miles) of walking trails and bridle paths, yours to explore on foot, on horseback, or by mountain bike. In fact, this region is one of the top adventure-sports destinations in the whole of France, offering everything from white-water kayaking and canyoning to parascending, abseiling, and free-climbing. It’s also home to the magnificent Gorges du Verdon, nicknamed Europe’s “Grand Canyon.” In the wilder reaches of the park, above the tree line, the limestone peaks are home to chamois, wild goats, marmots, and some spectacular birds, including golden eagles and Lammergeier (bearded) vultures. You’ll find gentler country with tidy patchworks of green and purple lavender fields on the sunny Valensole plateau.