Monday, August 8, 2011

Mountain High

One of my favorite places that we visited in France was up here in the mountains. This area is part of the maritime alps. Gorges du Verdon is also known as the Grand Canyon of France. This truly is one of the scenic master pieces of the world. The views were spectacular. It just takes your breath away at some parts. I have seen the Grand Canyon and I would say this is different but just as awe inspiring and beautiful. So here are some pictures from our days up here in the mountains.

We got to experience both early mornings and colorful sunsets. This is the view we had right from our hotel room. This was a quite simple place we stayed out at a small village called San Andres de Alps. Many of the hotels are fully booked in this area during the high peak of summer because there are a lot of outdoor activity sports going on here such as hiking, canyoning, rafting, para-gliding and much more.

High rising steep cliffs and small roads that offer breathtaking vistas over drop offs. At some points the road is just wide enough for two cars if you hold your breath. You drive up and down these mountains on serpentine roads. These are not the kinds of roads that you sit and read in a book, you will get carsick up here even if you normally are able to read in the car.

This is a popular destination for long distance biking. Cycling from one village to the next up here sure gives you one of a hell of a workout. But the surroundings and views are so beautiful so I guess that is what keeps you going. Up here you understand why cycling is such a big sport in France and why Tour de France is one of the most famous biking competitions in the world.

This is a glimpse of some of those spectacular roads. The road keeps winding up and down as well as in and out of the mountain slopes. I think C did a great job driving on these roads. One thing is for sure - it does not get boring as you need to give your full attention to the road all the time.

Then all of a sudden you are down in the valley and a stretch of beautiful green fields run along the road.

This is Castellan, one of those super cute mountain villages. It was here that we originally wanted to stay because it would have been closer for the canyoning experience that we had booked but everything here was fully booked. So we had to stay in the next village another 20 km further north. We did go to Castellan to have dinner one evening.

One small church on the very top of this peak. It looks kind of funny. Maybe this particular church brings it's congregation just a little closer to God after all.

Then you also have the Azure blue lakes up here. The color of the water here is so amazing! It just looked like some one has been using photoshop all around here. So picture perfect you practically have to pinch your arm to make sure it is for real.

So stunning, so beautiful!

This is the area of outdoor sports as I mentioned. From our hotel we saw this guy landing after doing paragliding. We were sitting outside on the hotel porch having breakfast getting this landing show for free right in front of us. A number of para gliders were circulating in the air taking turns landing.

Here is C right by the river with his camera. We were hoping to catch some of the river rafters that we saw in this area but unfortunately none passed while we were sitting here. The river here is quite fast moving and wild so a ride down here must be a thrilling experience.

At the edge of all this epic wilderness we reached the village of Moustiers-Ste-Marie. Another picture perfect village tucked in between vertical cliffs and bluffs with small stone houses practically clinging to the cliffs . Moustiers was founded as a monestary in the 5th century. The church at the very top of the village is from the 12th century.

The market place was full of life and shopping was going on as we arrived. This man was selling nougat candy. I have to apologize but I just can't stop taking pictures of these colorful shutters. They are just so beautiful. I totally fell in love with all those cute stone houses in the French villages with their shutters and balconies full of flowers.

Smoothie stand at this corner. Fresh made smoothies being made as you order. You pick your fruits that you want to go in it and they make it for you. Can it possibly get any more fresh?

Some of the views from Moustiers Ste Marie. This village is know for the fine glazed earth-enamel that has been produced here since the 17th century. A monk brought in the secret of enamel glazes from Umbria and it's white brilliant finish made it very popular and attractive.


Taina said...

Desiree vilka otroligt vackra bilder du tagit! Frankrike är verkligen ett vackert land. Att studera det från serpentinvägar gör det lite spännande också. Gulp. Hur länge var ni där?


Charlie sa ... said...

Vackert, faschinerande, inspirerande! Jag blir helt tagen av vackra Europa. Ni är så duktiga som planerar dessa intressanta resor, ni hittar platser som är nya för många av oss.



Desiree said...

Taina, det var helt otroligt vackert. Vi var där i en vecka och hyrde bil och körde runt. Hann med mycket mer än vad jag först trodde. Jag är så glad att vi reste hit för det var helt fantatiskt. Jag är lyrisk efter min semester i Provence.

Lotta, åh vad du är gullig. Jag tycker du har gett mig mycket rese inspiration också från dina omgivningar och dina road trips. Många fina smultron ställen jag är sugen att besöka. Det är bara roligt att få dela med sig av sina egna guldkorn man har besökt.

Anne said...

Håller med Lotta, otroligt vackra bilder och jag blir helt tagen av vackra Europa jag också. Ni hann verkligen med jättemycket på en vecka. Ännu en fördel att inte ha så lång flygresa, ingen jetlag. Mindre projekt på nåt sätt att resa när avstånden är kortare som i Europa.

Desiree said...

Anne, ja det är så sant det du säger. Himla skönt att slippa jetlag och att inte behöva sitta i bilen hela dagen lång bara för att transportera sig från ett ställe till nästa. Avstånden blir mycket mer lagom.