It was a beautiful morning in Provence and we had acquired a Jeep for a few days so we decided to take the roof off and venture forth on a well-earned day off.   We packed a picnic, left happy guests around the pool  at Le Diamant Noir and drove out of Aups in the direction of Tourtour. The sky was clear and the panoramic view over Les Maures towards the coast was as breathtaking as ever, but only one of many views to appreciate that day.
From Tourtour we headed via Ampus to Castellane, leaving vineyards behind. Castellane was bustling with busy shoppers as it was market day and with tourists looking for adventure on rafts and canoes in the Gorges Du Verdon.

Tracking the Verdon river upstream we came to St Julien du Verdon and Lac de Castillon. Just like the Lac Sainte Croix this lake is a stunning colour. We found a quiet spot at the end of the lake and unpacked a couple of chairs and the picnic box -how much better food tastes outdoors!
Appetites satisfied with provençal fayre we packed up again and continued on our journey through les alpes de haut provence to the source of the Verdon river.

We passed by St André-les-Alpes where people were enjoing the banks of the lake and the water looked very inviting- Lots of happy families on holiday in the most beautiful scenery.

On we went through Colmars, steeped in history, and into alpine scenery- provencal villas had now given way to alpine chalets with wooden shutters and geranium clad window boxes adding a splash of colour to the dark wooden stain.
The Val d’Allos looked so different in summer- no snow and mountainsides dotted with winter sports fanatics- instead walkers and hikers enjoying the summer landscapes. The bars were filled with people enjoing refreshing drinks to keep cool rather than keep warm and there seemed to be as much to do in summer as winter, in the most spectacular scenery.
Passing by the ski resort La Foux , where the family have spent many happy hours on the slopes, we started to climb up the col d’Allos pass. This is normally closed in Winter due to snow. It was a great opportunity to climb to the top of the world to see the view.

The road is not for the faint hearted but the scenery is absolutely beautiful.

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This pass has been part of the Tour de France several times .

The road can be seen in the photo- passing places are few and far between!

Somewhere in this mountain range, Les Trois Eveches,and near the col d’Allos is the source of the River Verdon.

Had the obligatory drink in the refuge at the summit of the pass and took in the view and welcome mountain air before starting the descent to Barcelonette.
Turning the corner we were faced with more amazing scenery.

We continued on our homeward journey heading towards Lauzet Ubbaye now in the Ubbaye valley and then turned left to head back towards Digne, but not before viewing the magnificent scene of the Lac de Serre Ponçon. We have promised ourselves another day out to investigate that area further.
We travelled south from Digne-Les- Bains to Riez soaking up the rural scene. From Riez we headed to Quinson. This route took us across the plateau high above the Lac Sainte Crox. We passed by many lavender fields and corn fields, both had been harvested but during the period when the lavender is in full bloom this is a perfect route for seeing a patchwork of purple carpets among the ripening corn.

From Quinson we travelled to Montmeyen and then Regusse and Aups, taking in another typically provençal sight – sunflowers in full bloom.
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We arrived home completely windswept, having had a surfeit of fresh air, not to mention wonderful views at every turn.  All in all it was a wonderful day out.


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