Day 13 – Gorge du Verdon
Today however was moving day with us having decided to move further North and visit the (real) Lavender Fields that we had on the agenda. Firstly, though we were determined to get ourselves down through the Canyon as it looks so spectacular from the shore.
I had done the necessary research into the two options we had available to get a close up in the heart of the Canyon, the first being on a boat (they have electric powered boats as diesel engines are not allowed on the lake) or if Juno isn’t allowed on a boat our back up was a 3-hour trek which we would have to drive to a couple of miles further down, park up and hoik ourselves around.
As such, the plan was to get up early, get Knigel ready for the off and head down to the boat hire company ready to “cast off” at 9am giving ourselves plenty of time for both plan B if needed and to get ourselves a couple of hours up the road to our next destination.
Michelle somewhat distressed with our early start time did have the audacity to keep on checking with me that 9am was indeed the time that boats were hired from. With repeated reassurances that I had checked, the alarm shrilled at 7 and up we got, and ready for departure. Whilst having my coffee I thought that I had better actually check what time the boats hired from otherwise I would have some explaining to do if we got there and they weren’t open and somewhat to my disgust I found out that they don’t hire the (electric) boats until 11am! I had some explaining to do.
Still, with our early start and now amended plan it afforded us the time for one last walk up into Moustiers to collect Michelle’s prescription, grab a fresh baguette, back to the MH and then up the road all in time to be there for the first boats out. So a silver lining in every cloud and all that. Michelle needed more convincing regarding my earlier extension of the truth.
We found a parking spot easy enough, went down to the hire place and found out that with the strong winds that day the electric boats weren’t available after all. The pedalos were available (and had been since 9am – just the electric ones start at 11, so as I had said all along that’s when we should have been there for!) and they were completely blasé about Juno being on board so off we set. The attendant did warn us though that with the winds picking up they were probably about to close the canyon to all boats, so with a mad dash in we hopped and off we ‘pedalo’d”.
The Canyon itself was stunning as the pictures here show. This is the closest that Europe has to the Grand Canyon and is about 25km long and up to 700 metres deep.
We actually found the going pretty easy and Juno was remarkably well behaved. She had a few moments where we she thought that she was Kate Winslet she certainly caught the attention of our fellow pedalo’ers, canoeists and kayakers. We were pleased with how well she behaved having worried about it beforehand with visions of performing a David Hasselhoff style rescue.
We reached the point where we had to turn around and discovered why the going was so easy – the wind had reached a point where it was propelling us along with haste, and now we had to battle it all the way back.. It took us half an hour to reach the turn point, an hour to get back. At one point Michelle’s poor knees were a blur and yet we were barely moving forwards – I thought now I had better start pedalling as well J. We were relieved to get back and with a late breakfast were finally on our way towards the Lavender fields (the “real” ones, not the many “fake” fields that we had already passed).
First though we had to navigate the D952 which runs alongside the Canyon…for about 50kms. I am going to do a post specifically on driving a motorhome in the coming days, but what I am likely to be sharing is that driving a motorhome is not a terribly enjoyable experience on open roads. On a cliff side winding road, often with sheer drops to the side, Tour de France hopefuls plugging away, coaches coming at you, cars speeding around corners at stretches barely wide enough for 2 of us, it was terrifying, but that said safely navigated and there were countless stunning sights along the way for Michelle and Juno to enjoy. Me, I was sweating profusely, staring at the road ahead manically and think I left finger indents in the steering wheel.
En-route we knew we had to sort one of the major issues we were encountering which was an (impending) lack of gas. We had our British gas bottle (good ole Calor) but knew in advance that the French bottles were not compatible with the connections. As is classic sticking your head in the sand behaviour, I thought wait long enough and eventually a solution will come and bite me on the bottom. Unfortunately, it didn’t work! We planned to stop at a motorhome dealer in the middle of industrial France and armed only with a less than rudimental knowledge of gas mechanisms and a worse knowledge of the French language Michelle bravely sat outside and forced me in to ‘sort it’. All I can say is thank God for google translate plus obviously the notorious tolerance of the French for those too lazy at school to have learnt even the very basics of their language. We do make it somewhat of a mission (particularly after events such as those at Marsaille during the Euros) to give the best possible account of the British whilst we are travelling. On this occasion, whilst achieving the result we required I am afraid we probably only achieved a “C- could do better if didn’t stand there gurning like an imbecile” which interestingly enough also used to appear regularly on my school reports…
We finally arrived at Bonnieux late on in the day, and found ourselves on a pleasant campsite. The intention was to try and get some wifi to upload some blogs but as is becoming the norm that was hit and miss. We even moved our pitch to get closer to the source but to no real avail. Instead we planned our next few days and how to get to North Italy. By this stage the wind was really blowing a gale and we were sat wrapped up warm in the MH so a moderately early night and ready for day 14.