When most of my vacation in France was planned to spend alone (didn’t work out 🙂 100% like that thanks to Ben), the last part was planned to spend with my friend Airi and another friend, Patrick. Airi came to France on Friday and we spent two days in Marseille and a lovely day by the lake Laoutien. On Monday, Patrick arrived and we were set for 3 days of guiding by a local.
Patrick was born and raised in France, so we were in luck. We started off with him making the right aperativ with cheese and wine and all and he showed us the most amazing beach near Hyeres (I will write about that later).
As the Alps were so close to where we lived (only 1,5 h drive), I had to ask if we can go there. And we did. Our day before the last we headed towards the Alps, The Verdon Gorge / Canyon (south-eastern France, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence) that leads to artificial Lake Croix.
Moustiers Sainte Marie village
As we arrived quite in the middle of the hottest time of the day, all parking was full and the heat was on. We first decided to take a stroll in the village above the lake to refresh and, not that it was in our plan, to do a small-small hike as long as the stairs allowed us up to the mountain behind Moustiers. The steps were slippery, but we managed. I also found one small pathway that led to a 2 hour hike. Should have taken my hiking shoes.
The village was a small romantic place with mainly tourists walking around, shopping for local products and having a relaxed time at restaurants. So did we. After walking a bit up to the mountain, as far as the stairs let us, we sat down and had a nice ice cream, me, I chose the local flavors: thyme and lavender.
The Verdon Canyon
Ice-cream eaten and the weather only a bit cooler (aybe 35 degrees now?), less people in the beach – time to go and see if we can rent a water vehicle to enjoy the river.
The Verdon Gorge (or Canyon) is rightly considered as the most beautiful canyon of Europe. Walked over by hikers from all over the the world, the Verdon has become a natural site protected since 1990. It enjoys the label “Grand Site de France”. Maybe I should take that hike into my list of where to walk in France?
It is very popular to rent a kayak or a pedalo to see the canyon from the water. So did we. We rented a canoe and Ia small “kayak” and had two hours among what must have been hundreds of other people and boats on the narrow water path. But the view was great, weather was warm and the water was not salty (although: spoiler alert: I am getting used to salty water).
So the road of the Canyon (route des gorges), which is a ravine to a depth of 700 meters cut by the river through the limestone mass. The road takes you through the mouth of the Verdon river into the Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon artificial lake by going under the bridge of Galetas and going up a few hundred meters into the Verdon canyon. Be sure to take dips in the water.
After waiting in line and almost losing hope to get a boat, we finally had the luck. Two hours – which is the time you need to get to the end of the river and see the artificial lake and back, cost 15 euros for me (single kayak) and 22 for canoe. Not bad at all, I was prepared to pay 30 (don’t tell that to the rental company). On the beach you could find like 3-5 different companies. Good business.
The wonderful French riviera and Provence
The road from Neoules to Moustiers is wonderful in-land trip. Patrick mentioned that many celebrities have bought either houses or whole villages there. He claimed that we passed the house of Angelina and Brad. I asked whether we could go and knock on the door, I don’t undestand why he didn’t let me :). I am already close to Angelina after my visit to Cannes.
Though the road is not seaside as maybe Hyeres, St Tropez (where we didn’t go after all – too touristic), Toulon, Cannes, etc, it is still a wondrous place.
All I can say, that I am falling hard on the French nature, mountains, people and lifestyle.