In September 2011, we rented a house in Provence where we did several great day-hikes, including one down into the Gorges du Verdon and back up to the rim. We started from Point Sublime, which is at the junction of the GR4 and GR49 trails (which offer inspiration for future through-hikes). It was a very hot and sunny day in mid-September. It felt like full-blown summertime, but in the shade it was pleasantly cool and fall made its presence known through the bright red and fiery orange leaves on some trees. This late in the season we didn’t have to fight the crowds. In fact, we met very few people on the trail.
Right from the very start, the scenery is awesome. Through the eons, the Verdon River has carved its way down into the limestone mass to create a deep canyon that winds its way for some 25 km through these ancient coral reefs.
The trail was very easy to follow and made for an easy walk. We stopped occasionally to take a good look at …
…what exactly? Vultures! Le Vautour Fauve (Gyps fulvus; ‘Griffon vulture’ in English) to be more precise. These giants of the air were soaring the thermals high above us. With a wing-span of up to 2.8 m wide they are truly impressive!
From the trail we had great views of the gorge and the turquoise river, while we worked our way downwards along the switchbacks. Our hiking poles were useful in relieving some stress on the knees.
Once we had made it all the way down, it sure felt good to cool off in the river, then stretch out on the pebble beach, rest our feet and knees, and replenish our energy stores before the return hike up to the rim.
Lunch was served up. On the menu: levain (sourdough bread), saucisson (salami), fresh fruits, water and coffee. What else could you ask for? A piece of chocolate? OK, I guess we had one or two of those too.
The hike back up to the rim wasn’t too tiring, but we did work up a thirst in the afternoon heat. Little M got to ride on dad’s shoulders for a very short while, when it looked like the end point was miles and miles away along a steep and never-ending dusty trail that wasn’t any fun at all. But, what do you know: Point Sublime appeared magically beyond the next outcrop, and we could soon quench our thirst with the water we had stashed at the finish line. High spirits soon returned and we savored the last views of the gorge and surrounding mountains in the golden, late-afternoon sun, before taking off back home.
On the way back to our rented house in Tourettes, we stopped for some additional refreshments at a cafe in a quaint old village (plenty of those in this part of the world).
A longer trip through this area is definitely on our wish list for the future. Here’s some inspiration!