Provence and the Scandalous Discovery

Things to do, places to go: after several days at La Favière / Bormes les Mimosas, we pass by the usual traffic jam around St. Tropez and go to see if the wonderful curvy roads in the nearby mountains of the Massif des Maures (that I keep good memories of due to former motorbike trips) are still there. In fact, they are and they are good enough to check if we stored all our belongings properly inside the van: nothing moves, no strange noises tell us about strolling groceries, books or any other thing that is not supposed to move on its own. Thus, we are good camper girls and enjoy Hector’s smooth turns around the Provence.

It looks like a wallpaper, but it is a real picture in real landscape!

It looks like a wallpaper, but it is a real picture in real landscape!

The mountains get higher and the rocks rougher, green trees and bushes meet gray stoney walls and even the fast clouds above our heads fit in the particular scenery just perfectly, creating a powerful atmosphere.

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Before we arrive at the Grand Canyon du Verdon, we stop at Comps sur Artuby, pass at the edge of the village through the front yard of a friendly French family and discover a small chapel surrounded by rural landscape. Compared to the days at the beach of La Favière and to the “très chique” of St. Tropez, we now see a different part of the eclectic country.

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A bit further along the road, we get the first glances on the Grand Canyon du Verdon: as soon as the sun breaks through the cloudy sky, the gray-green river at the bottom of the canyon sparkles like a precious necklace of mother nature. Every now and then we stop for a view or even a short walk into the rural scenery.

F_HikingVerdon F_VerdonRoad

We pass the bridge over the river of Verdon and settle down for the night at the campsite “Les Pins” at the Lac de St. Croix. The village Les Selles is nice enough for a drink in the sunset and with the instinct of “The Best Camper Girls 2014” we discover the wonderfully arranged tables of the restaurant “Côte du Lac” and enjoy the best dinner of the entire journey.

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The next morning starts with “adventure parking” of Hector in Moustiers Ste Marie: the loveliest village on the fringes of the gorge straddles a plummeting stream that cascades between two cliffs, topped with a golden star that hangs on a chain high above. Being small enough, it takes us less than three hours to climb the stairs up to the chapel of Notre-Dame de Beauvoir, have a look inside the roman church in the center of the village and stroll through its pittoresque streets.

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The day continues with 110 km of beautiful landscape as we pass through further parts of the Provence and with a scandal: Since 1995 I have travelled the Provence many times and on many ways but I have never (NEVER!) seen one of the lavender fields that you find in all tourist guides about this region. The bitter truth is: they do not exist, the pictures have probably been taken in the same studio that had been used as scenery for the landing on the moon in 1969. By now I wonder what is inside the little sack of herbs that I have bought and that fills Hector with a decent smell of lavender…

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The day ends in another famous town of the Provence: Aix en Provence shows up with a “real life”, proved by all the students and normal people that fill the streets side by side to unavoidable tourist crowds. The city has more than just a beautiful face (great alleys, pretty squares and inviting shopping streets), it offers for free more mosquitos than we have seen (more true: felt) within weeks.

Confusing the readers: in fact, this is the chapel of Moustiers and cannot be found in Aix en Provence

Confusing the readers: in fact, this is the chapel of Moustiers and cannot be found in Aix en Provence

After the disappointment of the missing lavender fields, we decide that an overnight-stop at Aix en Provence is enough for the time being and follow the strong need for sea-view, lazy sporty days and new spots to discover.

France – Part 4

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