It was a beautiful February day- clear and warm. Having enjoyed a beautiful lunch outdoors, on the terrace of a restaurant in Lorgues, with some work colleagues, I went home.
As Colin had been at home all day, I suggested that we went for a run to the lake since it was such a beautiful day.
The scenery was beautiful, and the Lac Sainte Croix was clear and very blue. There was not a cloud in the sky.
Heading towards Moustiers Sainte Marie, we took the road to the right to head around the Gorges du Verdon.
As we drove into Le Palud sur Verdon we remarked that we had never been to Chateauvert. At this point Colin decided that now was the time!
We drove down a narrow twisty road and came to a little village. We continued on and then the road became narrower and was reduced to a gravel track. Eager to see what was around the next corner we continued. However as we disappeared behind the mountain, we ran into snow. This was OK at first, although a bit hairy, as there was no suggetion of any safety barrier at the side of the road. We continued on and I have to say the hairpins became a bit scary, especially when I remembered a ski trip to Isola 2000 when we were descending down the road sideways! Here there was no other traffic but also no other life- or so we thought!
We came to the bottom of the hill and the road forked -we could go 8km to the right to Majestres or 15km to the left to Saint Jurs. We realised that evening was falling and it was time we were near civilisation of some sort. We woiuld have consulted our maps but they had been removed from the car when we were showing someone else a route on the map!
But we did have the Garmin with us- It could not find a satellite so we tried to take the shorter route. However the minute we tried to climb the slope the car decided it was not going to plough through the snow. We realised there was no way that we could go back up the road we had just come from, as it would be too steep. So we had no choice but to take the longer route. At first all was well but as we drove around the hairpins the car seemed to be sliding to the right ( and of course to the edge) I began to think that we would be, at best, spending a night on the mountain, and at worst we would be taking a leap over the side of the road. At this point it seemed that where there were trees it was a little more comforting, as they would break our descent. I was wondering how we would contact the emergency services as I had no idea where we were. Worse still there probably wouldn’t be any signal on our mobile phones.
By now the Garmin had charged up and was showing us a route but we seemed to be miles from anywhere and the snow was no better. We started to climb again and as predicted we got stuck in the snow. So I had to push! Not funny when, in order to get a run at the next slope the driver reversed back over the slope I had just struggled up.
This went on and on – every metre of progress seemed to take forever. By now the thermostat on the car was registering the outside temperature at well below zero. I would push a bit then get into the car and ride down the hills, having heart failure at the thought of our fate, but decided to keep my thoughts to myself and let the driver concentrate. He was having a great time- this was some sort of adventure. Then stuck again I got our and pushed again. This time the car was able to go for quite some distance- unluckily this meant I had to jog through the snow to catch up.
Colin had parked further up and had come back to check I was OK. It was at this point that we were aware of very interesting paw prints in the snow.
Finally we reached the end of the current track only to find that we were shut in. The gate for the emergency services was shut. Fortunately with a bit of heaving we managed to open it and get out. However this was by no means the end. At this point we could see for miles and miles and we realised that we were at the top of the mountains. Despite everything we were able to appreciate the most beautiful provencal sunset. Now we had to begin our descent.
How glad we were to see that there was less and less snow on the road, as by now it was dark. Even more relief when finally we were on a surfaced road again.
We came out at a place called Saint Jurs and realised that we were coming down onto the Valensole lavender plateau.
We were miles away from where we thought and still a long way from home.
By the time we reached Le Diamant Noir again it was 8.30pm. We had something to eat, went to bed and slept like logs- glad to be alive
Map of our route!
View Lost in France! in a larger map
There is nothing like the spirit of adventure!! however we will live to remeber not to be deceived by a beautiful February afternoon in Provence.
We related our escapades to our neighbours, and were informed that the large cat-like paw prints we had seen would be those of lynx and by the way did we see the wolves up there? So we were not alone.
We have decided that we would love to go back in daylight, in summer and with a 4×4 , as next time we would like to appreciate the scenery.