Cross country via Canyon du Verdun

Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
Trip End Feb 28, 2007

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Flag of France  , Provence,
Tuesday, June 13, 2006

TUESDAY, 13th June
Another lovely breakfast. I had deux croissants. Regrettably we have to leave despite my plea to Anne for an extra night here. Up the N85 into high country because I had set my sights on the Canyon du Verdon which on the map looked interesting. We stopped at Comps-sur-Artuby the  junction at which one decided to take the road la droite ou la gauche of the Verdun river. We chose the latter.
We had a cup of coffee in said village and set off among the 1000 metre high limestone and marble hills. We turned a corner after about 10 km and there way down below was the river having carved itself a highway through these hills and yet only in its initial stages. The road we were approaching was called the Corniche Sublime and was to wind its way spectacularly along the canyon for some 30 kilometres. We stopped several times to take it all in. Quite one of the top drives in the world. I never imagined the hills to be so high in this part of France but I noticed that from here northwards they reach a height of up to 3000 meters with some incredible roads...on the map anyway.
It was surprisingly green although dry. Thistles everywhere replacing the gorses of further south. The river down below, when it could be seen, was but a small stream except where it was churned up in narrower passes. The road was well maintained and marked and wide enough most of the time for two buses to pass. Hardly a cloud in the sky and temperature running at about 26. A perfect day in a perfect place.
The river ran into the Lac de Ste.-Croix and we descended to the bridge under which it flowed into the lake. We stopped and watched the canoes and paddle boats bravely paddling upstream into the canyon. The water of the lake was a brilliant turquoise no doubt reflecting the sky. We could see up the gorge with its white and pink hues and high up on the ridge we could see the road along which we had travelled. To complete the idyll we need Monsieur Whippy.
Upwards and onwards towards Manosque but lunch in Moustier Ste. Marie first. Another village on a hillside with a car parking problem. We had to park above the town on one of the winding roads and then walk to 'centreville'. In, out and around cobbled streets. This was tourist town. Possibly because it is new homes at all here...and that there was a monastery on the top of a hill joined to the town by a wide stepped causeway across the col. I did not suggest we go there. It was approaching 30 and uncomfortable now so we settled for lunch in a tiny eaterie and had toasted baguettes. We wandered around the shops which seem to specialise in hand painted pottery mostly. Looked for a pharmacy without any luck. I have developed an irritating chest cough. I walked back to retrieve the car and picked Anne up on a lower level and off we went to Riez where I found some Strepsils which were useless and an ice cream which was probably equally as useless but tastier. Strange little town on a dry river bed but totally untouristy. There were two shops selling swimming related products. Buckets and spades, rubber dingys and even boogie boards but there was no water unless there was a raging river over the hill.
Manosque was on a hill overlooking the river Durance. The centre of town was essentially a one way road encircling the residencies in an anti clockwise direction. We went round about three times  before we figured our where to exit for the advertised hotel. Le Pre St. Michel hotel was up the north road, past the funeral parlour, around the cemetery, along side the football field and into the sandy hills but it was just great. A church institution at some time but now very like a motel. We thought it was going to be far too much but it was within our range so we unloaded our baggage again put our feet up on the bed. It was much like the hotel in Grasse. It even overlooked a swimming pool. It actually cost more.
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