We’ve just had the first storm and rains of the holiday and, considering we’ve been travelling for four weeks now, we can’t really complain.
It has been a very interesting drive since we left Italy, especially around the Gorges du Verdon area, Europe’s largest canyon, which is a succession of hair-pin bends on sometimes very narrow roads barely wide enough for two vehicles and with numerous overhanging rocks that could easily rip off the top of a motorhome should one be distracted for a second. This is a road definitely NOT for the faint-hearted and, although I was doing my best to remain cool and keep a lid on my nerves as not to cause an accident, I kept holding on to my seat’s armrest and to my stomach and managed to keep my breakfast down. Thank goodness I only had a very light breakfast of coffee and croissant, as anything bigger than that wouldn’t have stayed down!
Our first stop in France was at the very convenient and adequate aire at Lac de Thorenc, which is a charming spot for picnics and days out and indeed there were a few buses with young school children enjoying their lunch and ball games on the lovely area surrounding the lake. There were also pony rides available and Adonis and I enjoyed a swim in the cooling waters of the lake. Fishing was allowed too, but Adonis decided to give it a miss as there were a few fishermen already scattered around the lake.
The motorhome aire is free and with some shade, a bourne for water and chemical toilet emptying facilities for €5. There are also proper toilets and these were nice and clean.
On Thursday, we followed the D2 out of Lac de Thorenc and joined the D6085/4085 to Castellane, where we arrived early enough in the morning to enjoy a gentle stroll trough the town to soak up the atmosphere and admire the sights. After lunch, we went back for a spot of souvenir shopping, ice-cream and beers and to watch the world go by.
Castellane is a lovely old town with a medieval feel with some very narrow streets and interesting buildings, but the most striking thing is a huge rock looming over the town where the Chapelle de Notre Dame du Roc stands proud 184m above the town and part of the fun of visiting this charming location is to walk up to the top to make a ‘pilgrimage’ to this Chapel. We did part of this walk, but it would have taken 3 ½ hours to do the whole trek and we were not appropriately shod for the task, nor did we have the time due to Beano being left in the motorhome.
The motorhome aire here, although very large and with numerous bays designated for recreational vehicles with a painted logo on them, seems to have been taken over by cars and the annoying thing is that motorhomes have to pay €6.50 at the entrance in order for the barrier to go up and allow access, but the cars go under the barrier without paying, even though some of them stayed there all day and some all night too, as they were still there first thing in the morning. This doesn’t seem fair as it feels as though motorhomers are being discriminated against and that we are paying and financing the car park for everyone else. There is water and emptying facilities, but no electricity, so the charge of €6.50 a day seems rather excessive, as there was no privacy either due to so many cars and other motorhomes parked so close together because of lack of space. I hope the local council will sort this problem out and put in place a better dedicated area for ‘camping cars’ only.
Yesterday, we gingerly drove to Moustiers-Ste-Marie on that hair-raising D952 and felt greatly relieved when we finally arrived safe and sound at this most charming of villages. We were very impressed with the motorhome aire at the bottom of the cliffs and were happy to pay €8.50 to the gendarme who came round in the evening to collect the overnight fee, but in theory, we could have stayed there during the day for free.
Once again, we went to explore the town and sights, enjoyed a lovely passion fruit Artisan ice-cream and a beer and this time we donned proper footwear and tackled the steep climb through the mountain to visit the Chapelle de Notre Dame de Beauvoir, a 14th century church built on the site of an 470 AD temple, where traditionally parents brought their stillborns to be miraculously revived long enough for them to be baptised.
The walk felt a bit challenging, even in the after 4 pm heat, but we were rewarded with stunning views of the village and the surrounding area. This is definitely a place worth a visit and spending a day in or to buy souvenirs, which include local hand-made earthenware, for which Moustiers is also known.
It was a much easier drive this morning to Gréoux-les-Bains and, again, we got here early in the morning to allow ourselves a walk into town and enjoy a beer and a hot chocolate, as it was a lot cooler and I wasn’t in the mood for larger yet.
The motorhone aire is on an old campsite, the payment is on exit according to the duration of your stay and it has all the facilities one would expect in a campsite, including shade. We paid €9 for the day.
The town is not as impressive as others we have seen lately, but it is pretty enough with lots of shops and restaurants.
Tomorrow, we are heading further west and might make it to Comps, just south west of Avignon, on the River Gard.