Road Trip through Europe: from Cote d’Azur to Gorges du Verdon

Last summer, we did a 10 day road trip through parts of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. Our itinerary was: BerlinWeimarHeidelburgFreiburgLucerne Lake ComoLa-SpeziaCinque TerreBussana VecchiaMonacoÉze – Gorges du Verdon – Moustiers-Sainte-Marie – Valensole – Chamonix – Tübingen – Swäbisch Hall – Berlin. 

In my last entry about this road trip, we had just spent the evening wandering around the pretty medieval town of Éze. After a quick breakfast the next morning, which involved a visit to a pastry shop (when in France…!), we headed to our car for the next stage of our road trip.  Éze is located in the province Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, which covers a wide variety of landscapes and has Marseilles as a capital. It encompasses the area formally known as Provence and some additional territory. Today we would travel from Éze over the mountains to the Gorges du Verdon, a famous canyon, visit a beautiful village tucked in the gorge (Moustiers-Sainte-Marie) and end our day in Valensole, in the lavender region of France. But first things first: a visit to the beach.

We decided to start our morning with a swim on the Cote d’Azur, so we headed back down the hill to Villefranche-sur-Mer. After parking our car next to the citadelle St-Elme, we wandered past the massive citadel walls down to the seaside. Villefrance-sur-Mer was a pretty seaside town, with a small harbour and beach, and an unexpected surprise, since we hadn’t had it on our original itinerary. We enjoyed a short swim in the refreshing sea and then it was time to head to the mountains to find the Gorges du Verdon.

Soon after we left Villefranche-sur-Mer, we drove through part of Nice. I hadn’t realized that we were so close or that it was such a huge city – there’s one to visit in future.

The scenery changed rapidly as we gained altitude in the car, become dryer and rockier. We stopped at a viewpoint along the way to have a coffee, and further along in the mountains we also came across a perfumery and a stall selling perfumes and soaps, with a lot of things centered around lavender and lemons.

We continued up into the mountains, until we got a first glimpse of the Gorges du Verdon. Nearby a bridge was a restaurant, so we stopped for a quick lunch. The view of the gorges from the bridge was scenic, but it was not spectacular, and I wondered why the gorge was so famous.

 

I discovered why when we had driven a little further. Suddenly we turned a corner to find ourselves confronted with the vision of the startlingly turquoise waters of the Lac de Sainte-Croix at the entrance of the gorge. And as we came down to a bridge across the water, we saw that it was dotted with a multitude of colourful pedalboats, all between the walls of the gorge. It was quite a sight, and we couldn’t wait to park and grab a pedalboat to go and ride around!

We joined the other boats and had a great time pedaling between the rock walls on the blue-green water.

After returning the boat we went for a quick swim. As we were heading back to the car, we spotted some mountain goats that had headed down to the gorges to drink water.

It had been a great day, and more was still to come. Our next stop was the charming village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, tucked away in the gorge itself. In my next post I’ll share more pictures of this quaint village and our trip to our next overnight stop, Valensole.

 

 

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