In the week we were static on our European tour we didn’t move around a huge amount. We spent most of our time relaxing on the beach, taking walks, and generally resting up and recharging our batteries. The one really long trip we took during that time was a retread of one we did on our last visit to the area four years previously: driving along the Gorges du Verdon.
Now, this site is predominately one dedicated to showcasing my creative endeavours, not travel advice, but there’s one thing I know about the Verdon Gorge: one of the best days to experience it is to drive the segment of its length between the towns of Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.
We did the same route in 2010, and it was some of the best driving I’ve experienced, so Holly and I were quite keen to do the same route with our own car. We set course for Castellane, but unfortunately due to what I’m guessing was a discrepancy with satnav our approach to the town was not as scenic as the first time. After the sights we’d seen in the Alps the previous week, however, it didn’t feel like a huge loss.
Castellane is down at the level of the Verdon River. The river is beautifully clear and blue, making for some truly picturesque scenery.
One of the more prominent geographic features of the town is a ruddy great rock which, as is often the way with such things, someone decided to build a church on.
Wikipedia tells me that the original eighty-four inhabitants of the area used to live atop the rock in the ninth century, as a way to guard from invasion. Eventually settlements popped up at the base of the rock when they got tired of the impracticality of climbing down from the top every time they needed to get some milk and the morning paper.
The main village is still at the foot of the rock, and the River Verdon also runs in its shadow.
You can easily get down to the riverbank, where the light-coloured rocks and the turquoise blue looked fantastic.
After walking through the local market, where I bought a jar of some truly great pesto and some finely chopped, salty oily sundered tomatoes that would later go on to combine to make some damned fine bruschetta, we made our way along the roads alongside the Gorge.
After almost thirty miles of twisty roads, we found ourselves in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.
Moustiers’ interesting feature is quite a bit different from a large rock placed by a river by some prehistoric giant. They have a golden star, strung up between the two ledges of the valley in which the village resides.
Legend says it’s been there since the tenth century. A decade ago when the chain snapped it took a helicopter to rehang it, so it’s impressive to think how they got it there in the first place.
Moustiers is a lovely village, small, quiet and with a stream running down from the hills through the centre of the village. At various spots the stream pools, making for some lovely water features.
There were a few other great sights to see in the town, like the items outside some of the craft shops.
And the alleyways containing parked motorbikes.
There was actually a great craftsman we saw, who was making some beautiful sculptures out of molten glass. It would have been great to have another Boscastle Pottery-like opportunity to photograph a craftsman at work, but thanks in part to the language barrier, and his unfriendly-looking wife standing over his shoulder, I didn’t chance taking any pictures. I regret that a bit now. Admittedly it took several return trips to the Boscastle Pottery shop before I had the courage to take photographs, so maybe if we find ourselves there again in the future (and I’m sure we will) I’ll be bold enough to take some shots.
There was also a church to shoot.
Being here in sunshine was a bit different for us. When we visited four years ago we were greeted by torrential rain. It was actually one of the more memorable parts of our honeymoon – there’s never a hot chocolate more savoured than when you’ve been caught in a downpour and slipped into a cafe.
Today, however, there was a enough clouds in the sky to make it look dramatic.
Towards the end of our visit I found myself waiting outside a small shop whilst Holly did some shopping. The window, however, looked pretty nice.
And that was the last picture I took on our trip to the Verdon Gorge. We returned home to start packing up our stuff and get a good night’s sleep. The next day, we would begin our journey back towards England.