Cascade de la Lance

Cascade de la Lance

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A walk which all members of the family can complete in the beautiful citadel of Colmars, sheltered within its Vauban fortifications. Walk alongside the Lance mountain stream in a forest of Scotch pines and end your walk at the delightful Lance waterfall.
Rock and ice, blue palace, grey palace. The light of an agile elf shines out, droplets from the waterfall, white pearls on crimson and black wings. The wallcreeper flies off.

5 points of interest

  • History and historical trail


    The intensive grazing by flocks erodes the ground, removing plant cover and in addition to excessive deforestation for construction purposes, the ground is left bare and vulnerable to the torrential rain which falls in the valley.
    In 1787, half of all the cultivated land was swept away. The swollen Verdon and Lance swept away their dykes to the point where the outskirts of the town were exposed to flooding from the Lance whenever it was even slightly swollen.
    There was only one solution: reforestation which the state successfully undertook at the end of the 19th century.

  • History and historical trail

    The sawmill

    At the end of the 19th century, forestry policy was beginning to bear fruit: the district of Colmars was able to supply this hydraulic sawmill. It was bought in 1920 by La Compagnie d'Exploitation des Bois de la Haute Vallée du Verdon, directed by two men from Nice, Lempereur and Carré. From 1922, the business went into decline “Active resources have been absorbed by passive ones”; Carré pulled out of the company. Lempereur maintained hope, but five years, bankruptcy occurred and the sawmill was abandoned.
  • Geology

    The Annot sandstone boulders

    Covered with lichen, the Annot sandstone boulders have quite large grains; their rounded shape tells a story, that of a journey within a glacier 10000 years ago, from the mountain far upstream, which ended with the slow process of erosion by the waters of the mountain stream.
    Bare and with sharp edges, there are blocks of limestone that the freezing weather, increasing the size of the cracks, separated from the nearby cliff.

  • Lake

    Lance waterfall - The giant's cauldron

    When it falls, the water goes deep below the smooth surface of the plunge pool. At the bottom, the river bed takes the impact of the falling water’s constant force. A kind of giant cauldron is created, with is base becoming smoother and smoother, deeper and deeper with the water swirling around more and more. It is where the huge boulders carried along by the mountain stream fall, and their abrasive qualities also play a role before they continue towards the mouth of the river.
  • Fauna

    Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria)

    Like a mouse-bird when, grey and black, it scampers along the oozing rock, clinging on with its long claws. Like a butterfly bird when it unfolds its carmine red wings which are speckled with white. This inhabitant of Europe and Asia’s large rockfaces stays close to its nest, although winter pushes it to seek refuge in the bell towers of the valley. How delightful it is to watch it going back and forth, genuine “flashes of fire which shine out in the greyness of the abyss”.


The track winds along between beautiful holiday cottages which date from the late 19th/early 20th century. Here and there, the small channels which convey the waters of the Lance for irrigating crops appear.

At the end of a meadow on the left, a one-storey building can be seen: the old sawmill.

Then the track becomes a path. Il runs alongside the course of the Lance, in the clear shade of the Scotch pines among the undulating terrain, mounds of debris from the nearby ravines. Some of these ravines, which are still active, drain out torrents of water during the plentiful autumn rains and the spring thaw.

The pathway comes close to the cliff. After a few strides at the foot of the cliff, the rhythmical and breath-taking spectacle of the Lance waterfall reveals itself in a cirque of dark rock.

During cold winter’s days, the water freezes and becomes an ice waterfall, the silent echo of the lively waters.

Follow the same route on the return journey.
  • Departure : Colmars-les-Alpes Tourism Office
  • Arrival : Cascade de la Lance
  • Towns crossed : Colmars

Altimetric profile


Local bus routes in Alpes-de-Haute Provence, Regular/weekly routes Digne-les-Bains, Barcelonnette, Larche et Digne-les-Bains, Colmars, Allos
Departmental Council Transport Service
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 92 30 08 00

Provence Railway from Nice to Digne-les-Bains
Tel.: 00 33 (0) 4 97 03 80 80

SNCF Accès Plus Service for people with reduced mobility
Tel.: 00 33 (0)890 640 650 then press 1 or
Tel.: 36 35 then say “Accès Plus”

Access and parking

Go to Colmars-les-Alpes, in the Haut Verdon valley. Leave your vehicle in the carpark near the ramparts. When almost opposite the Porte de France, take a small country road which is indicated with a small sign.

Parking :

Carpark, Colmars Tourism Office


Free use of “Joëlette” off-road wheelchair

Colmars-les-Alpes Tourism Office
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 92 83 41 92 

Mercantour National Park at Allos
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 92 83 04 18

Emergency number :114

More information

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