Overnight Through the Gorges du Verdon
23.07.2012 - 24.07.2012
(So...why do they call it "Point Sublime?")
We set out today on our overnight trip-within-a-trip around the "Grand Canyon," of France at least, the Gorges du Verdon It's not that far, but it's a slow, twisting drive with lots of places to stop. So we have a night reserved in a hotel in Castellane. Today is the southern route; tomorrow the northern.
Even before we got anywhere near the gorge, the drive was worth it, because we were seeing more fields of lavender than we had on any other day. It's the one thing Mom said wasn't how she imagined it in Provence - she thought there'd be lavender everywhere. Well, today was more like it!
(Loving that lavender!)
Again, even before the gorge of the Grand Canyon, we had a stop of tremendous beauty, in Moustiers-Saint-Marie, which we dubbed "Mousyears." It's a glamourous, if touristy, cliffside village, split by a cascading waterfall. Beautiful place to stop and get a snack. It took us about an hour and a half to get there, only 90 km from Roussillon.
(A Waterfall Runs Through it)
Soon, it was around the man-made Lac St. Croix, and across the bridge that signalled the start of the gorge-ous drive through the Grand Canyon area. The water in the lake and in the river at the bottom of the gorge was a brilliant blue. Anica said she thought the postcards had been photoshopped until she saw the colour for herself.
(Fake lake, real colour)
We had lunch on a terrace perched about 800 feet above the river on a cliff. It was called "Le Chevalier," at the "Hotel de Grand Canyon du Verdon." Our waiter explained we could practice French with him if we want, but that he's Romanian.
Pont D'Artuby, later, was supposedly the highest bridge in Western Europe. There were other great vistas where we got out of the car to stretch our legs and take it all in. The driving was challenging for me, a flatlander, that's for sure, especially with the on-coming traffic. But we weren't in a hurry.
Castellane itself was just a convenient stop for the night. It's kind of a backpacker town, and dinner was at one of the interchangeable restaurants. Out hotel was nice, with a good - but cold! - pool. The best feature of Castellane was visible from the hotel pool: a church set out on the edge of a massive, looming rock-face. Now that's faith!
The way back - the north side - or Rive Droite of the Grand Canyon was, believe it or not, even more spectacular. Especially the view from Point Sublime (well-named) and from the Route des Cretes, which is kind of like a fun detour. There, we reached 1340 metres, according to our car, and actually watched an eagle soar directly BELOW us!
We stopped in Riez for lunch and then it was back to Roussillon (by way of the Intermarche grocery store in Apt) where we stocked up for dinner on our own patio.