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It's been 6 years since I visited the area around the Gorges du Verdon, less than two hours away. On that occasion it was our first wedding anniversary, Boo was 3 months old, and we spent a luxurious new-parent weekend at Ducasse's Bastide de Moustiers. Delicious. E spent the weekend paragliding, landing on Ducasse's vacant helipad, and I sat by the pool with Boo, happy in my calm, lovely setting. We didn't venture out much. Before that, my first visit to the region was with E during a long weekend car-trip through Provence. I was visiting from Boston and we'd driven to Gordes and then over several days made our way back to the Cote d'Azur. Our stop in Valensole, the plain above the Lac St. Croix and the swim later in the opaline waters remains memorable because it as the first time I experienced the variety of landscapes in such a small geography. As I have mentioned here before, I'm so stranger to impressive scenery but I'm accustomed to having to drive distances. Here, all within two hours, was the coast of the Mediterranean, the interior landscapes, well-photographed, of Provence and then, to my surprise, a mini-plain of summer wheat and only minutes away a massive lake - the 2nd largest reservoir in Europe - and at its origin a very impressive canyon.
We needed a weekend away. A break from routines, obligations and Tiny House. After a rainy spring we wanted to finally experience a bit of summer. And to spend time together. E and I decided on the Gorges du Verdon. The drive from our home is through Grasse and no motorway which proved more interesting for the kids. There was more to see and at a slower pace. As we began the drive around the canyon we stopped to peer down (photo above). In the afternoon we slowly made our way to our gite - a kind of mix between B&B and hostel. We stayed at L'Etable (the stable) located on a working farm. We arrived just as it opened, unloaded the car and took a cold Leffe for refreshment. From our room we looked out on a field at the foot of a ridge, the ridge that is the lip of the canyon. Before dinner, we drove up to a popular climbing spot where the climber rappel down into the canyon and then climb back out - not for novices these cliffs. I remember learning to climb and part of the comfort was knowing that it became too tough I could always rappel down, do something else. Boo and Little Guy were mesmerized looking at these guys getting closer and closer and suddenly materializing, full size, as they pulled themselves over the top. Afterwards, we took the kids for a walk on the unpaved track between fields and pastures farm, just exploring.
The next day, we ate breakfast, packed up and headed towards the lake, a 20 minute drive. On the way, we stopped and picked up a picnic and parked along the shore where there was a deep beach. The turquoise water, formed by the limestone and coral deposits of the surrounding rock is truly amazing. The lake, a reservoir from a dam erected in 1973, is the largest reservoir in France and the fourth largest lake. Wisely, gasoline-powered boats are forbidden, so after lunch we decided to rent an electric motor boat for an hour and putter into the mouth of the canyon. It was the perfect family outing; the boys had so much fun being in the boat (and getting to steer a bit), and for us it was fun to be on the water, to see the landscape from a different perspective.
Finally, we docked and stopped off for sodas and ice cream and then slowly made our way home through the high landscape, stopping only once more to watch bungee jumpers off a high bridge of the gorge.