The Gorges du Verdon, in south-east France, is the deepest canyon in Europe. It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, but interpretation and visitor facilities have developed in a piecemeal way. It needed a fresh approach to ensure a high quality, sustainable experience.
Working with my colleague Catherine Cayre, I developed an interpretation plan for the Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon. Our work was based on two intensive programmes of site visits and consultations. They included workshops for local stakeholders to introduce the principles of interpretation. We also had extensive discussions about their aspirations and concerns. I speak French fluently to C1 standard, and so was able to conduct all work in French.
The finished plan includes a scheme that will transform traffic flow on the popular drive along the edge of the gorge, which is seriously overcrowded at peak times. We proposed an innovative visitor guide and landscaping interventions to create clear destination and interpretation points. Other proposals include support for local guides. The aim is to help visitors understand the site’s importance, while encouraging them to find a personal connection with its dizzying spaces.