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Europe by Campervan.

"September in Provence".

Travelling through a land with lots of places to explore: picturesque little towns, huge fields of lavender, surprising lakes, rivers and mountains...
Here, nature is the undeniable protagonist

One of the most pleasant experiences for those who love to travel by campervan in the Mediterranean countries is certainly a tour in Provence. From spring to autumn, this region offers such a vast range of colours, perfumes and picturesque atmospheres, making the trip unforgettable.
The typical Provençal houses perched on hills, the coloured shutters, the gardens and flowers that surround them, make every little town worth a visit. The natural landscapes, amidst rivers, mountains and lakes, are breath-taking, and it is not hard to understand why this region is so dear to tourists and artists. While the Impressionists chose it as a place of inspiration and residence, today Provence can inspire us all.

From blue to green.

Going up from the Côte d'Azur.

Our journey starts from the sea and precisely from Ventimiglia, where we decide to leave the motorway so that we can really enjoy the landscape along the coast. So we drive along the magnificent main road with its breath-taking panoramas, passing through Menton, Beausoleil (from which we enjoy a magnificent view of Monaco), Èze, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Nice, until we arrive at the gates of Provence: we stop at Grasse.
Here we walk up through the hillside town. The old town centre is very small but important, because it is the beating heart of the best French and international perfumery: Grasse is considered the capital of perfumes. In fact, there are not only many perfume shops in the centre, but also some of the oldest perfume factories that can be visited with special guided tours.
A really exciting visit for those who love the world of fragrance.
We resume our journey, heading north towards Castellane and then reach the famous Gorges du Verdon (Verdon Gorge). Castellane can easily be used as a base, for it has plenty of camping sites and stopping areas. The trees and thick vegetation also offer shade and coolness. The centre of Castellane, with the little church of Notre Dame du Roc standing on a rock at the entry to the town, is a typical Provençal town where it is pleasant to wander through the narrow streets, admiring the house doors and the shops selling lavender in every form (this will be the fragrant trail of our whole journey, of course!).
To arrive at the Gorges du Verdon we follow the D952 which is narrow and winding in places, but with a little prudence it can easily be taken in a camper. There are many stopping places along the road, where we can pause to admire the incredible view of the gorge.
The sight that appears before us is a wonder of nature: the French Grand Canyon towers imposingly over the emerald-green waters of the river Verdon. Over time, this river has created such deep clefts that even those who do not usually suffer from vertigo will fell dizzy.
Near some of the panoramic points indicated, it is also possible to park the camper and continue on foot along short paths leading to the various viewpoints.
Along the river Verdon it is possible to go rafting and canyoning, or just enjoy apedalo ride starting from Lake St. Croix.

On Lake Sainte Croix

Clear, fresh, sweet waters

We begin our descent and reach Lake Sainte Croix, the large artificial basin into which flows the river Verdon, offering various bathing areas. Here we can hire a pedalo and cool off, or maybe take a short trip up the Verdon.
Next stop: Moustier Sainte Marie.
Just below this enchanting little town there is an area for campervans from which we set out on foot. . Often indicated in French guide books as one of the loveliest towns in France, it is certainly worth a visit for its striking views. The village stands between two rocks with a stream flowing through it. There is a fine walk to the church of Notre-Dame de Beauvoire, from which we can admire a splendid panorama. Moustier St Marie is also famous for a gold star that seems to fly in the sky, hanging between the peaks of two mountains. On Friday morning a typical Provençal market is held and, for visitors of all ages, there is no better snack than a tasty pancake.

Towards the park of Lubéron.

Landscapes tinted in lavender

We continue towards the Valensole plateau which is one of the most important places for growing lavender. The little town of Valensole lies on the plateau of the same name in the heart of Provence and of the Verdon Regional Park. It overlooks the Vallée du Soleil, with a splendid view of vast expanses of fields of lavender, cereals and almond trees. Here the flower harvest begins in mid July and lasts about three weeks. In many villages, decorated floats parade through the streets, intoxicating the air with their lavender perfume, and manufacturers display their craft products: honey, essential oils, eau de cologne, soaps… Numerous visits to the various distilleries are also organised.
Our tour continues, going a short distance into the Lubéron Regional Park. Here we find a series of hillside villages and unique landscapes, like Lacoste, with the remains of the old castle of the Marquis de Sade, Gordes, the abbey of Senanque, Roussillon, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. All interesting places, to be visited depending on the time available and the desire to discover new things. Among these villages, we particularly mention Roussillon and Rustrel, for the wonderful colours of their scenery: here the colours of the landscape vary from pale yellow to the brightest red, passing through all the shades of orange and ochre.

Beauties in ochre.

The Provençal Colorado

Roussillon is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France and attracts thousands of visitors, especially on account of its abandoned ochre mines. The history of the use of ochre is told along a path among the cliffs.
The warm colour of the earth is the result of the alteration of a marine sedimentary rock, dating back to the mid Cretaceous period. It was originally green in colour and covered the bottom of the Lubéron, at that time submerged by the sea. When the waters drew back, the rains and the crystallisation of different minerals changed the green to red and ochre.
At the end of the 18th century, man began to mine and process the mineral, digging decanting basins and baking it in furnaces to obtain ochre of different colours. An activity was thus developed that exported the product all over the world. In Roussillon it is possible to visit the old Mathieu ochre factory.
Rustrel is our other local destination, even wilder than the cliffs of Roussillon, it is known as the “Provençal Colorado”. Our tour ends here, on excursion trails of half an hour or a little more. Our eyes feast on the charm and beauty of this landscape, with its magnificent cliffs, crags and enchanting colours, under the deep blue of the sky.