After an all too short drop from our cliff side residence, the ascent into the gorge began. We passed the shores of Lac de Sainte-Croix, its azure blue waters becoming just a puddle over our shoulders within the hour. We were warned of a category 1 climb in between us and the magnificent Gorge du Verdon by our helpful guide. I was happy to set off blissfully unaware of which end of the spectrum 1 was at, but Dad looked it up, extinguishing my optimism and hope that it was at the easy end. Thankfully a good stock of energy gels and distracting views helped us up.
The chilly temperature was the only clue that we weren’t cycling through a bush fire. Neon red, brilliant yellows and literally golden foliage surrounded us. It was a shame not to have bright blue sky to set the colours off further.
We stopped for a warming hot chocolate at the world’s most miserable hotel, with one of the world’s best hotel views. Smiling was banned, as was eye contact unless completely necessary. Cat Steven’s Wild World played through a far off tinny speaker for the duration of our visit. One individual sat with two glasses of wine, one empty, possibly having been stood up by 11:30am on a cloudy Tuesday.
We carried on through the gorge, frog leaping with two Northerners as we both stopped to take pictures along the way. They’d been going 10 days longer than us on the same route, and assumed, presumably from our professional looking outfits, that we were completing the course in the minimum recommended time of 10 days.
A nice zoomy descent lead us away from the gorge, before rejoining it further upstream. We upset a speedometer as the road swung through Jabron, flashing ☹️38☹️37☹️36 at us. The scale of the geology was even more striking up close. As our path followed the river, great folds in the cliffs made the road look tiny.
Our destination of Castellane refused to arrive, the absence of a lunch stop possibly to blame. When it did, we settled into a nice hotel just off the market square. I parked myself in front of a pétanque match and set about the task of consigning our day to internet history.