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This post is the last in a series of three covering the things to do in Provence. Welcome to Verdon, France.
“Bonjour,” I said. “Vous êtes Franck?” With a reply in the affirmative, I continued, “We’re going to arrive in five minutes or so.” Bert the Bullet was bumping down the small village streets under the yellow-orange glow of lamps too few and far between. Somehow, we had not driven off a cliff, nor was anyone sick as we rounded bend after bend, crossing the Luberon and into the Verdon.
We dropped our bags in disorderly fashion just after 11pm, sitting around the glass kitchen table with glazed eyes, sipping rosé bought from Le Mas de la Dame two days before. The agenda was simple: Bedtime. The Verdon Gorge (reputed to be the most beautiful in Europe) was our first itinerary item for the following day, with a picnic at the Lac de Sainte-Croix.
It was a perfect lake day, hot with an almost stick to it. We stopped first for photos and film footage on the Pont de Galetas, which provides the scenic and well-photographed view of the river winding out of the gorge into the lake, boats, paddle-boarders, swimmers, and the daredevil backflippers sprinkling the crisp turquoise waters with every color for a cupcake.
You can definitely hike in the gorge, but we had our swimsuits ready, a picnic and hungry stomachs, plus no good hiking shoes, so we descended down to the lake to see what shade spot we could find.
We ended up under a tree right under the water in the company of some very friendly ants. As another family packed up to leave, we slipped onto their coveted spot on the bank of the lake, hanging our bags from the trees, ready for a dip.
I hemmed and hawed a good 20 minutes or so, but finally gave in and pulled on my 1940s-style magenta bathing suit, wading cautiously in, my toes squelching in the mud.
We left enough time to go back and shower before skipping over to Valensole to see the fields of flowers. I’m betting you that there’s a 90% chance that any photo you’ve seen of the lavender or sunflower fields of Provence is in this region. It was not a disappointment!
Sunflowers and lavender as far as we could see…and we were just in time. Just a few rows over, harvested lavender lay drying in the summer sun.
Something that will be etched firmly into my memory is zipping away from the plateau in Bert the Bullet, heart and eyes full of sunflowers, lavender, and a golden sunset that turned the sky pink over the mountains. Umberto Tozzi’s Gloria blasted from the speaker as we danced in our seats, threw our hands out the window, and jammed it out in a celebration of light and life.
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Things to Do in Verdon, France
- Gorge de Verdon (Pont de Galetas, Lac de Sainte-Croix)
- Valensole Plateau
- Riez market
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