Friday 25th November
Castellane would have been lovely if it hadn’t rained heavily all night. My French advisor told me that Thursday was gong to be sunny but I think he was confusing his words, we had more of the same.
I’d done my research, we were heading to the largest canyon in Europe, at some points only 8m wide, occasionally no footpaths or road and 25km long. Stella had other ideas and wanted us to go over the top but luckily we noticed a sign and followed that, only to be met almost immediately by a road closure. Part of the hillside had collapsed in the rain blocking the road but there were workmen there and they were working and assured us it would only be five minutes before we could get on our way again.
Almost immediately we are in a deep ravine, the road is narrow and there are big overhanging rocks.
And more overhanging rocks. The problem with these is that you think that they are very close to you so you pull away from the side but then you are going around a bling bend with crazy continentals coming towards you, the French seem to like cutting the corners as well.
Any time soon you can imagine the water bringing down more of the mountain.
In the total length of 25km driving not one vehicle tried to overtake us and we only saw four or five cars coming towards us. It was Thursday, it was raining hard and it was the end of November, in better weather and the summer this road is probably very busy as the adults try and keep up with little Freddy floating downstream on his rubber ring.
There were lots of overhangs but then everything just petered out. The river got very wide, the mountains disappeared and we thought that was it but after another mile it all went uppey and downey again, steeper and twister if anything.
At this point we had to leave the river, we think it went through this gap and we had to go over.
It was certainly stunning scenery. Lucy had worn herself out taking photos from inside (and shouting at me to slow down so she could take a photo and me shouting no way, we are going up a steep mountain and it’s wet and if we stop we stop for good). Guess who had to get out at the stopping places so I could get wet and take a photo?
All of a sudden the river is far below us and we are still going up.
Small waterfall by the side of the road.
And this is about where we leave the gorge and head for our next stop. Fantastic drive, would have been far better in the dry but certainly something to do if you’re in the area, it’s even worth making a special visit.
I’d found an aire in Riez, it had a decent rating from Camper Contact and was close to a supermarket. Only 50 yards away in fact, if you can fly. There is a stream in the way so it’s a kilometre walk. I head off while Lucy takes it easy and get to the Intermarche at twenty to one. It’s closed until 3pm so I have a wander around town, everywhere is shut but when it is open all you can buy is honey and lavender products.
I went back to Frankie and at 3pm headed back to the supermarket getting there just as the heavens opened. For the second time this week I have been drenched to the skin. And then it rained all night long, again very heavily.
Friday morning was bright and sunny when I got up, the clouds were rolling in by the time Lucy got up. We had a plan but it’s gone slightly skew whiff but I think we may have accidentally found a better plan (makes sense to us). There was a Motorhome dealer not far from Riez and then a free aire with electric a bit further on from him.
On the way to the motorhome dealer (I need a reversing light after our little accident) we ended up in Lavender plateau or whatever they call it. Fields and fields of lavender, the sight must be amazing when they are in bloom.
How is it harvested? Do they have a machine that goes along and trims them all to the same size?
Our motorhome dealer had upped and gone, no sign of him anywhere.
When we reached our aire at Jonques this transporter was parked next to us and they were unloading cars into the car park. Shortly a second transporter turned up and unloaded his cars as well. I did offer to help but they pretended they couldn’t speak French.
Two Lamborghinis, two Ferraris, two Porsche Caymans, another Porsche something, a Shelby Mustang, Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
Audi R8, Subaru Impreza, Nissan GTR and two jazzed up Ford thingies – I know my cars. Also offloaded were two Porsche Cheyennes. Most of them had no number plates and reading the side of the Cheyenne it looked like they were all from a driving experience company (Sprint Racing). When we came back from our walk into town (closed 12.30 to 3.30) they were queuing behind one of the Cheyennes with their hazards flashing and then they were taken off into the hills. Not far from here is a small airport which is the base of ULM, were they trying to get there but the transporters are too large for the roads? I might google it all later, then again I might just try and finish off this bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau which despite being a week old is well past it’s sell by date.
Only got one photo in the village. The village is strange, not just because it is French but because there are 400 parking places here, a free aire (with free electric) and it was a difficult road to get here. Once you’re here there is nothing to look at!! Tomorrows plan is to catch a bus into Aix-en-Provence, no idea what is there yet, just going for a wander and it looks like it’s only €1.20 each way.