2019 Day 31 – Valensole

Another day, another scorcher. But on the plus side, the morning light is excellent. It’s off to the lavender fields we go! They’re stunning in the morning light, so much better than I’d dared wish for. The photos below reflect a mere fraction of plantings. Valensole, as promised, is literally surrounded by lavender. For miles. It’s France’s largest lavender site. What’s really interesting, apart from the visual and olfactory joy of it, is how poor the soil is, literally just crushed limestone and yet the plants couldn’t be happier.

I’m so glad we came all this way to see Valensole in all its glory. If you’re ever considering being in this part of the world, I’d strongly recommend timing your visit to coincide with lavender flowering. It’s a bucket list worthy sight. Even Squiz agrees.

There are a few people about in late June, but nothing like the thousands that will descend in a month’s time. The timing’s worked a treat.

Eventually the heat gets to us. It’s time to leave – to turn our journey around and start the trek north towards our original destination. Yet more lavender fields, orchards and vineyards pave the way. We pass the bio (organic) lavender fields, filled with bees and butterflies. They certainly know the difference.

In what promises to be a dry summer, we pass many dried river beds – down white stones and mere trickles where once wide rivers raged.

We aim for the mountains, not only to further our journey, but to try to escape the heat. A hint of a snow capped mountain taunts us in the distance – it’s extraordinary the snow is still there, in this heat.

Need I say? The roads are terrifying.

Gorgeous scenery rules the afternoon, with the adrenaline fuelled “bonus” of sheer drops combined with narrow winding roads that wrap mountainsides. For the faint of heart, it’s not.

The day ends in the mountains, usually an excellent antidote to the heat, alas, today not. In the middle of the heatwave, there’s no escape.

We drive for a while, in search of a place we can pull in for the night, preferably with shade. Persistence pays off with this cool spot by the river Durance. If you look very closely at the third photo below, the white speck in the centre is us, viewed from the other side of the river.

Surrounded by mountains, water and orchards, evening falls to a thunderous chorus of froggy calls. Sound up for this one!