Last week I escorted a group for a day trip over the Valensole plateau. It’s a tour that I don’t do often enough with tourists, as the majority want to stay on the western side of Provence in the Luberon valley, and so it remains for me more often a family outing.
So let me try to tempt you…
|One of the vast Lavender fields on the Plateau de Valensole|
|A wild almond photographed in Haute Provence in May 2012|
|A view of the village of Moustiers Ste Marie|
We continue across the Plateau with our next destination being Moustiers Ste Marie. This picture postcard town set against the rocks, which if you follow to the right, will lead you into the Verdon Gorges (another article coming on these too) is dominated by a star hung between two rock ledges on a huge chain. The original star was hung by the Blacasset, a soldier and troubadour who vowed that if he returned to Provence after his capture during the seventh crusade he would erect a shrine to the Virgin Mary. This he did in the form of a 16 pointed star, emblem of the family, hung on a chain over the village of Moustiers which today 800 years on and after a few falls and restorations still hangs proud, but with only 5 stars now.
Moustiers is also famed for its pottery or Faience and the town is dotted with shops offering their beautiful creations, with the unique blue/white glaze typical to the town.
|One of the many shop fronts in Moustiers Ste Marie|
selling the famous Faience de Moustiers
|The village of Ste Croix du Verdon|
For the continuation of this article let’s go with the simpler picnic by the lake. The Lac de Ste Croix is the fourth largest man-made lake in France covering 2200 hectares. It was filled in 1973, submerging the village of Les Salles sur Verdon (a new one was later built on the banks of the lake). At one end of the lake is the entrance to the Verdon Gorges and it is the Verdon River that feeds the lake, at the other end on the other side of the Dam are the smaller Gorges du Baudinard which are a delight to canoe up on a hot summer day. Heading down to the village of Ste Croix du Verdon, when you first see the lake it is the turquoise blue colour of the water that catches the eye, this incredible hue is due to the beige coloured stone on the lakes bottom, which makes the crystal clear water of the Verdon blue with the refraction of the sunlight. You can get into the holiday swing of things by renting a pedalo or an electric boat (no engines on the lake) or a Hobie Cat when the wind picks up in the afternoon. Following the path along the lake side there are plenty of shady spots away from the crowds to picnic and swim, but beware, even though the water close to the banks and on the surface is warm, it is very cold just below. There is no sand to speak of but medium sized pebbles so some form of waterproof footwear is a good idea. Also it is strictly forbidden to light any form of fire, and if you try, the park wardens will be there in minutes! The lake is regularly used by the Canadairs, the famous French airborne fire fighting team, and watching the planes pick up water on the lake is a very impressive sight indeed.
If you would like to know more about touring the Valensole plateau and beyond (only a tiny bit of the treasures of this region have been covered in this article) then use the contact form here, and it would be with great pleasure that we can help you plan a trip to this magical part of Provence.