samedi 30 juillet 2011

Gorges du Verdon, have you seen my hiking boots, Arlette?

Eagle Marker for la Route Napoléon
More than once we have decided at the last minute to run away for a couple of days.  Not that we have it hard here in the Vieil Antibes, just the opposite, but occasionally it is just fun to leave in the car without an itinerary and find new adventures.  Actually, I did have an objective in mind - the mountains, which are, conveniently, just North of the Riviera in Haute Provence.

Throwing a change of clothes into a shopping bag (our proper suitcases being in storage) we grabbed our toothbrushes and the little girl, Capucine, and started off North on the same path that Napoleon took in 1815 when he returned to France from his first exile.
Et viola!  A little more than an hour and a half later we are entering the town of Castellane, a wonderful old scenic town of about 1,500, located midway between the Alps and the Mediterrean and very much in the crossroads of history.  It is also at the mouth of the most scenic part of the Gorges of Verdon and therefore, a popular gathering point for hikers, rafters, campers, hang gliders, etc. - polar fleece and rosy cheeks are everywhere.

The town is overlooked by high rock formations on top of which the old town of Castellane once stood, safe from marauders and the numerous armies moving back and forth.  When the village on high finally became inconvenient for commerce and agriculture, the town moved down to its present position. If you look at this picture carefully (or click it to enlarge) you can make out, on high, the spire of la Chapelle Notre Dame du Roc, protecting the village below. 
Castellane is full of wonderful pictures - Arlette and I traded the camera back and forth between us as we walked through town, working up an appetite
for our evening's diner - à la terrasse, where we sipped our rosé and watched the parade of sporting families on vacation.

As I mentioned above, Castellane is at the mouth of the most scenic, i.e., deepest and dramatic, part of the canyons formed by the Verdon river.  The other end is at Moustiers Sainte Marie approximately 45 kilometers away - a marvelous drive along the canyons with the turquoise water of the Verdon 700 meters below. 

Just before Moustiers Sainte Marie the Verdon empties out into the artificial lake, Sainte Croix, where one can rent pedal boats, windsurf or swim in the blue, blue water.

The lake is a wonderful playground for children of all ages.

As inviting as the waters were we decided to forgo an afternoon on the lake for
a visit to Moustiers Sainte Marie, a center of the pottery trade, especially faïence,
for centuries. 

Once again Arlette and I passed the camera back and forth as we walked through the town.


And, of course, we had to buy a piece of pottery.  Although not in the traditional faïence style, we think this pot is a beautiful addition to our place.

But the fields of lavender that we passed are what I treasure most from our little getaway.  Call me a romantic.

3 commentaires:

  1. Beautiful photos and beautiful words!

  2. Thank you Lyn, next time you will be here we will go together, it is absolutely gorgeous! bisous

  3. Bonjour,
    if you go back there, may I suggest that you take the road from Segriès (near Moustiers) up to Vénascle - the view is worth it, or go to see Rougon - we often picnic on the site of the castle there or have an afternoon drink at le Mur des Abeilles, I can also recommend a visit to Trigance, and there's the ruined village of Châteauneuf lès Moustier with the Notre Dame chapel in a cave if you go down the old roman road. I could go on but.....