Tag Archives: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

Gréoux-les-Bains, Alpes de Haute Provence, Saturday 1st August 2015

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Attractive fountain at Greoux-les-Bains

Attractive fountain at Greoux-les-Bains

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.

On the windy and narrow road though the Gorges du Verdon

On the windy and narrow road though the Gorges du Verdon

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!

A tight squeeze!

A tight squeeze!

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 tranquil Lac de Thorenc

The tranquil Lac de Thorenc, perfect for picnics

Lac de Thorenc from far end

Lac de Thorenc from far end

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.

The medieval village of Castellane

The medieval little town of Castellane

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 impossibly narrow streets of Castellane

An impossibly narrow street in Castellane

Admiring the town from above on our way to the chapel

Admiring the town from above on our way to the chapel

The Chapel of Notre Dame du Roc, 184 metres above town, seen from motorhome aire

The Chapel of Notre Dame du Roc, 184 metres above town, seen from motorhome aire

The chapel from a different angle

The chapel from a different angle

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.

Too close for comfort in the motorhme aire of Castellane

Too close for comfort in the motorhme aire of Castellane

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.

Interesting rock formations on the road through the Gorges du Verdon

Interesting rock formations on the road through the Gorges du Verdon

The amazingly beautiful Lac de Ste Croix on the way to Moustiers-Ste-Marie

The amazingly beautiful Lac de Ste Croix on the way to Moustiers-Ste-Marie

A much better motorhome aire at Moustiers-Ste-Marie

A much better motorhome aire at Moustiers-Ste-Marie

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.

Picturesque Moustiers-Ste-Marie

Picturesque Moustiers-Ste-Marie

Water gardens in Moustiers-Ste-Marie

Water gardens in Moustiers-Ste-Marie

Mouth watering artisan ice-cream - I had passion fruit!

Mouth watering artisan ice-cream – I had passion fruit!

Moustiers-Ste-Marie

Moustiers-Ste-Marie

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.

We made it to the Chapelle de Notre Dame de Beauvoir

We made it to the Chapelle de Notre Dame de Beauvoir

And were rewarded with stunning views of town and surrounding area below

And were rewarded with stunning views of town and surrounding area below

Moustiers-Ste-Marie from above

Moustiers-Ste-Marie from above

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.

Unusual decor in Greoux-les-Bains

Unusual decor in Greoux-les-Bains

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 motorhome aire at Greoux-les-Bains

the motorhome aire at Greoux-les-Bains

The town is not as impressive as others we have seen lately, but it is pretty enough with lots of shops and restaurants.

Attractive plant and flower display at Greoux-les-Bains

Attractive plant and flower display at Greoux-les-Bains

Tomorrow, we are heading further west and might make it to Comps, just south west of Avignon, on the River Gard.

Ste Croix-du-Verdon, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Sunday 20th July 2014

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Lac de Ste Croix

Lac de Ste Croix

 

 

Wow, wow and again WOW! I knew it was going to be beautiful, but the sheer scale of the lavender fields around Valensole is simply breathtaking: mile after mile of endless lavender fields, all growing in neat rows of raised beds, undulating into the distance as far as the eye can see, beautifully set against the majestic backdrop of the Alps. It is simply absolutely spectacular and a true triumph of Mother Nature, not least because of all the beehives helping pollination along the way. Nice to see, as bees seem to be in decline these days.

 

The breathtaking lavender fields

The breathtaking lavender fields

 

Visitors enjoying the fields and scent of lavender

Visitors enjoying the fields and scent of lavender

 

We duly stopped at the first sight of these amazing fields to take some photos between the rows of lavender, like everyone else who had taken the trouble to journey this far, and bought some lavender products at the Terraroma Distillery, both for ourselves and presents for family and friends. Apart from the stunning landscape, the scent of the plant is simply intoxicating at this point and I’m really looking forward to replicating this sensation both in the motorhome and in the house, to which effect we have bought a fragrance diffuser and pillow mist.

 

The Terraroma Distillery and shop.

The Terraroma Distillery and shop.

 

 

 

 

We had no problem getting to Valensole from Aix-en-Provence following the D96 north east to Manosque and east from there on D907 and D6, but we found that they were holding la Fête de Lavande today of all days and instead of carrying on the D6 from Valensole to Riez, as we intended, we were diverted about 10 km norht to Poteau de Telle and then south again to Riez before we could finally join the D11 to Ste-Croix-du-Verdon and the lake. We didn’t mind too much, as it was still early and the scenery was so magnificent and we got to see twice as much of the lavender fields and the Verdon Regional Park.

 

More lavender on our detour with beautiful backdrop of The Verdon National Park

More lavender on our detour with beautiful backdrop of The Verdon Regional Park

 

We got there just after 12.30 pm and got a nice parking spot overlooking the lake and what a view it is! We have found another aire with a fantastic view! It has toilets and free water and it’s only 6 a night, collected by guard in the evening. We like it so much we are thinking about staying another night.

 

Enjoying the views at our lovely spot at Ste-Croix-du-Verdon motorhome aire.

Enjoying the views at our lovely spot at Ste-Croix-du-Verdon motorhome aire.

 

The said view of the lake

The said view of the lake

 

We went for a walk down to the lake and even Beano was happy to go for a swim, but I wasn’t wearing my swimming gear, as the Mistral had been blowing quite heavily when we left the van, but it had blown over by the time we got to the bottom. I would love to have a swim here though, as it is so heavenly.

 

Ste Croix-du-Verdon from the lake

Ste Croix-du-Verdon on the way to the lake

 

We also went for a beer and a Mojito at the Restaurant/Bar Le Comptoir, as I just couldn’t resist the temptation of sitting at such a stunning location and I was more than happy to pay 9 for my cocktail and 6 for a large Howgarrden with lemon. We both left very contented.  

 

Quaint spots at Ste Croix-du-Verdon

Quaint spots at Ste Croix-du-Verdon

 

Ste Croix du Verdon 064

 

 

 

Adonis has just come back from another swim and I’m about to cook a Spanish potato omelette.

We are considering going to Côte d’Azur and then crossing over to Italy…