Two-Day Photo Trip around Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

On June 18, 2021, I took a train from Cannes to Marseille where my friend Didier, who had driven there from his home in Aix-en-Provence, picked me up at the train station. We then drove up the the Plateau of Valensole where we hoped to photograph the famous lavender fields. For whatever reason, nature seemed to be two or three weeks late this year, so to satisfy our need for purple, we had to make do with sage fields, not a great substitute. Fortunately, I had photographed the lavender fields back in 2014, so I wasn't too upset, especially since lavender was not the only thing we had come to photograph and the plateau yielded some pretty landscape shots anyway. We had lunch in Riez before heading to Montmeyan.

Click on any image to see a larger (2400 x 1600 pixel) version!

On the Plateau of Valensole

On the Plateau of Valensole

On the Plateau of Valensole


We were too early for the lavender... ...so the only thing a bit purplish were the sage fields.

We were too early for the lavender...

...so the only thing a bit purplish were the sage fields.


Sage is grown for medicinal and culinary purposes... ...but its flowers are surprisingly malodorous.

Sage is grown for medicinal and culinary purposes...

...but its flowers are surprisingly malodorous.


A typical Plateau of Valensole landscape

A typical Plateau of Valensole landscape


In two or three more weeks... ...these lavender fields will be a vibrant purple...

In two or three more weeks...

...these lavender fields will be a vibrant purple...


...but for now they are a rather bland green. From a distance, these fields don't look very colorful...

...but for now they are a rather bland green.

From a distance, these fields don't look very colorful...


...but a closer look reveals a symphony of colors!

...but a closer look reveals a symphony of colors!


After lavender, durum wheat is the most common crop around here The village of Valensole

After lavender, durum wheat is the most common crop around here

The village of Valensole


Allée Louis Gardiol in Riez Riez village scene

Allée Louis Gardiol in Riez

Riez village scene


In the Gorges of the Verdon

While we were planning this trip, Didier had come up with the idea that we could rent an electric boat and navigate through the lower part of the Gorges du Verdon, and a gret idea it was! The small electric boat we rented for our two-and-a-half-hour trip on the Verdon (like the one shown in the photo below) was certainly not a speed demon, but it was comfortable and allowed us to take photos in places we would not otherwise have been able to access. This was what we really had come to photograph, and the scenery certainly did not disappoint. Years ago. I had explored a different part of the gorges, but that was limited to hiking from the edge of the canyon down to the river and back up. Today, we were on the water the entire time, and that was a nice change.


The boat rental in Montmeyan Beach The access to the lower Verdon gorges is under the bridge

The boat rental in Montmeyan Beach

The access to the lower Verdon gorges is under the bridge


Making our way through this wonderful landscape in our rented electric boat

Making our way through this wonderful landscape in our rented electric boat


It is also possible to walk into the gorges... ...but not at the water's edge as the path soon climbs.

It is also possible to walk into the gorges...

...but not at the water's edge as the path soon climbs.


One can also rent kayaks, canoes, and pedal boats The water really is this color—no Photoshop involved

One can also rent kayaks, canoes, and pedal boats

The water really is this color—no Photoshop involved


In the Gorges of the Verdon In the Gorges of the Verdon

In the Gorges of the Verdon

In the Gorges of the Verdon

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

This village was to be our base for this excursion. It is sometimes compared to a nativity scene, with its star hanging over the rooftops. According to Frédéric Mistral, the star is an ex-voto dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is said to have been installed in 1210 by request of a crusader knight who had been able to return to his village after being imprisoned by the Saracens. I had been there several times in the past, and there is even a web page of the village on this site. On this occasion, we were here to have an excellent dinner and spend the night in a great guesthouse that is run by people Didier knows. We also had a fine breakfast in the village before hitting the road again the following morning.


The village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie photographed from across the valley

The village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie photographed from across the valley


The star of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie The 'place Pomey' in the village

The star of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

The place Pomey in the village


The Adou river originates here... ...and flows through the village. We stayed at the 'Les Lumières' guest house

The Adou river originates here...

...and flows through the village.

We stayed at the Les Lumières guest house


Along the 'rue de la Bourgade' Looking across the 'avenue Frédéric Mistral'

Along the rue de la Bourgade

Looking across the avenue Frédéric Mistral

Around the Lake of Sainte-Croix

The Lake of Sainte-Croix is a man-made lake that was created when EDF (Électricité de France) built a dam in the seventies to store the water of the Verdon river. The resulting reservoir holds 761 million cubic meters of water and the hydroelectric plant of the dam yields some 142 million kWh per year. The lake has the emerald-green color of the Verdon river and adds beauty as well as recreational opportunities, such as boating, to the area. One village, Les Salles-sur-Verdon, located at an altitude of 450 meters (1,476 feet) was entirely covered by the lake; it was rebuilt on the shore of the reservoir at an elevation of 510 meters (1.673 feet). We spent a good part of the morning exploring the area around the lake.


The village of Quinson Looking down onto Sainte-Croix du Verdon

The village of Quinson

Looking down onto Sainte-Croix du Verdon


The lake near Les Salles-sur-Verdon Looking across the lake to the village of Bauduen

The Lac de Sainte-Croix near Les Salles-sur-Verdon

Looking across the lake to the village of Bauduen


Many boats are anchored near Bauduen The turquoise color is due to minerals in the water of the Verdon

Many boats are anchored near Bauduen

The turquoise color is due to minerals in the water of the Verdon

Driving to Castellane on the cliff road

Shortly after noon, we began our trip home. Didier drove us along the cliff road on the right side of the Gorges du Verdon to Castellane. This is a spectacularly beautiful road from which one can admire beautiful vistas; unfortunately, there are few spots where one can safely stop to take pictures. By and by, the road descends until it runs practically next to the river when one nears Castellane; there, we stopped and took a photo break for few minutes. We made it to Castellane just in time to have a late lunch. Afterwards, Didier drove us to Grasse and Cannes where he deposited me at my front door before driving home to Aix-en-Provence. Talk about premium service!


View from an outlook off the D952 cliff road

View from an outlook off the D952 cliff road


Looking southeast along the Verdon... ...and west towards the Lake Sainte-Croix.

Looking southeast along the Verdon...

...and west towards the Lake Sainte-Croix.


Near Castellane, the road runs next to the Verdon The Verdon close to Castellane

Near Castellane, the road runs next to the Verdon

The Verdon close to Castellane


In parts, the water can be pretty rough... ...which attracts kayakers and rafters.

In parts, the water can be pretty rough...

...which attracts kayakers and rafters.


These people are obviously having a great time on the Verdon!

These people are obviously having a great time on the Verdon!

The photos on this page were taken on June 18 and 19, 2021 with our Fujifilm X-T30.




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