Romantic Verona


We really struggled to get any sleep on our first night in Verona. It was incredibly hot and stuffy inside the van and despite having the windows open there was very little airflow. The sosta was great value and a really good location for the city but it didn’t have any electric or much space so we were crammed in to what was effectively a car park for the night. This meant that we couldn’t get the awning out or have the door open much, which proves for a slightly hectic morning when we are both having showers and getting ready whilst on top of one another inside the van at 40degree heat.

We left Harvey the sweatbox as soon as possible and took the leisurely 20min walk into the city center. Having read very little about Verona we were totally underprepared for it’s beauty and charm. Other than the balcony made famous from Romeo and Juliet I had no idea that Verona would have such wonderful architecture and heritage sites.

In comparison to Florence, Verona felt more laidback which we appreciated. The city was equally stunning and interesting, albeit smaller, but with less tour groups and hustle which made for a really enjoyable day. We wandered around the compact city without any fixed agenda, discovering hidden gems down back streets and narrow lanes. All the town houses had shutters over their windows and pretty balconies adorned with bright bougainvillea.

We stumbled across the Castelvecchio fortress which was built in the 1350s and walked across the bridge to get great views of the city. On the other side were some pretty public gardens. It was lovely to see families enjoying themselves in the water feature and locals making the most of their Sunday by getting outside.

We continued on to the amazing Roman amphitheater which was seemingly just plonked in the middle of a pretty piazza. Built of marble in 1st century AD, it’s still standing and holds up to 30,000 people. It’s the eighth biggest amphitheater in the Roman Empire and super impressive. It was currently the venue for the city’s annual summer opera festival and there were loads of props and set pieces outside.

It wouldn’t be a trip to Verona without a glimpse of the famous balcony where Juliet stood. As we approached the tiny square in which it was located we joined a throng of tourists all eager to get the same glimpse and photo of the 14th-century-style balcony and bronze statue. The square was rammed which dampened any notions of romance. The internal walls of the square were covered in a slew of love letters stuck with gum and sticky notes posted by tourists. This was pretty cool but also insanely unhygienic.

We stopped for lunch in the bustling Piazza Della Erbe and Gary had a quick refreshment….

We walked off our pizza by crossing the river Adige at the northern end of town and hiking up to a view point. There was a cable car to do the hard work for you but the scenic route was by foot and who doesn’t like to sweat their way up hundreds of steps in the 40 degree heat?

Thankfully the stunning views from the top made the effort worth while.

We slowly walked back down and casually made our way back to Harvey, popping into shops (mostly to get a blast of air con) and stopping to take pictures. It felt great to be able to wander and not set ourselves goals of seeing every single church or piece of noteworthy architecture and we clocked up over 15,000 steps. We had a well earned cold shower when we got back and started planning Venice!


The next big hitter after Florence was due to be Venice but we thought it a shame to miss out on some nearby smaller cities. Distance wise, Bologna was a perfect half way point but the lack of campsites nearby and bad reviews for Sostas put us off. It’s a real shame as I would have loved to take a tour of the Ducati factory. I ride a Triump Street Triple R back home but would jump at the chance ride a Ducati Monster or 959 Panigale. Another time hopefully.

Instead we opted to stay the night in a sosta about 4km outside of Modena with a friendly tree lined cycle path right into the heart of the city.

The car lovers out there will no doubt already know that Modena is home to many of the top Italian car makers. Ferarri, Lambourghini and Maserati the most notable. Indeed the Ferrari 360 Modena was named after the city.

We also learned that Modena has a prestigious University traditionally strong in economics, medicine and law. As luck would have it lots of students were celebrating graduating with bottles of rum taped to their hands and laurel wreaths around their head. This made for entertaining people watching.

We visited 2 Unesco world heritage sites. The Cathedral and the Piazza Grande.

Famous Modenesi include operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti, Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari and the Queen consort of England and Scotland, Mary of Modena. Despite all these highlights the biggest draw for me was that it is home home to Osteria Francescana. A year ago I watched a netflix original called Chefs Table featuring the eccentric Massimo Bottura.

I was captivated by his story, creating a restaurant from scratch, Osteria Francescana, and building it in to the world’s best restaurant. As one can imagine not without it’s trials and tribulations. “Nothing easy is worth the ride.”

I wish I could say we managed to get a table to eat there but the waiting list is 6 months.

The next day we attempted to visit Parma for an afternoon explore. We were spooked by the total lack of campers in the dodgy looking sosta and the surrounding car park full of transits selling hooky goods.

We decided to abandon our plans (genuinely the first time we’ve had to forgo a destination due to safety concerns) and head to Verona instead. The drive was not without its tribulations, with terribly poor roads full of potholes and loose tarmac that shook and rattled the motorhome. Our satnav also took us to closed roads and sent us on bizarre diversions but this did afford us views of the incredible scenery.

We drove on another two hours to Verona only to find that sosta completly full of campers. Boom or bust it would seem. Exercising patience is not my usual forte but on this occaision it was necessary. We waited about an hour for somone to leave and gracefully ‘jumped in their grave’.

Entering Tuscany – Pisa and Florence


We left the campsite in Levanto with our sights set on Northern Tuscany. We hopped back on the autostrade motorway. No doubt the coastal road would have offered more beautiful scenery but the stress of the tiny roads and hairpin bends wasn’t worth it. The motorway stayed true to the coast anyway so we occasionally got a glimpse of the med and seaside towns as we whizzed passed. I had no idea that the majority of Italy’s motorways were toll based. Whilst they are less expensive than in France, they continue to add up and the quality of them is so poor, with huge potholes and cracks that rumble and shake the van as we drive. The drivers here are absolutely mental. Italians have a tendency to drift between lanes with no indication, cut corners wildly and drive directly at you with complete disregard for right of way. There is no discipline whatsoever and Gary has had to swerve and beep to avoid scrapes and clashes.

We were heading for Florence but decided to stop by Pisa for a smash and grab look at the tower. I’m sure we didn’t give the city enough time to fully impress but I’ve been here before and found Florence to be superior in beauty and interesting architecture. We found motorhome parking (sosta) about 3km out of town so parked up and walked back into the city.

The Piazza dei Miracoli was absolutely rammed with tourists and vendors selling selfie sticks. Everyone was posing for photos, trying to perfect the classic shot of holding up the leaning tower of Pisa. It’s such a cliche but we soon lost our inhibitions and joined right in, with varying degrees of success. Unsurprisingly my lack of spatial awareness and perception proved challenging in getting any photo where I looked remotely close to sustaining the weight of the tower. Gary’s efforts were better.

The 56 meter tower took over 200 years to build and was already listing when it was unveiled in 1372. Before considerable restoration efforts it was 4.47m out of plumb, which is more than 5 degrees from the vertical. Its hard not to be impressed by its wonky beauty and decoration.

The piazza is also home to Pisa’s Romanesque Duomo, or cathedral which stands out with its pink and cream marble bands and stunning dome.

The baptistry where Galileo Galilei was baptised is also here. We had a couple of hours strolling around and grabbing lunch before heading back to the van. We continued east to Florence and settled at a campsite about 6km outside of the city.

The next day we caught the local bus into Florence which was refreshingly straight forward and punctual. Despite being Tuscany’s largest city, Florence is fairly compact, so we tackled it on foot taking plenty of water breaks out of the seriously hot sun. Florence is a heavyweight when it comes to museums and art galleries, boasting world class Renaissance art. Given our short time here and the fact I’d been to the Uffizi gallery before, we decided to forgo the long lines for museums and get a flavour for the city by following our noses.

We meandered from piazza to piazza, marvelling at the incredible architecture and romantic, narrow streets. At every turn was an old building or medieval church or tower more beautiful than the one before it. A map was barely necessary because we’d stumble from sight to sight, discovering lovely little alcoves, wine bars and boutique shops along the way.

We took in the incredible Cathedral and bell tower which dominated the cityscape.

The pink, white and green marble facade is so elegant and unusual and the sheer scale of the building is breathtaking.

We then headed for the market which housed fresh produce on the ground floor and an awesome array of food stalls on the first floor.

We grabbed a table and a waitress took our drinks order but food was self service. The amount of local dishes we wanted to try was unreal but we plumped for yummy tortellini with burrata and fresh tomato sauce and beef slow cooked in Chianti.

It was so tasty and the market had a lively atmosphere. We also found a huge shop dedicated to Lindt nearby and couldn’t resist picking up a few goodies. Their chocolate balls are addictive and they had a load of limited edition flavours like mango and white chocolate.

After lunch we walked to the Piazza della Signoria which is host to a fortress palace called Palazzo Vecchio with unique crenellations and a replica sculpture of Michelangelo’s David.

Less highbrow is the Gucci museum just around the corner that tells the tale of the infamous fashion house.

We popped into the adjoining boutique for a gawp at the ostentatious loafers and insanely expensive silk dressing gowns before side stepping out hoping not to break anything. We stopped for a quick coffee and cake which was the perfect opportunity to try a cannoli which is an Italian pastry with rich ricotta filling. It was sumptuous and decadent.

Our last major stop was to take in the incredible view of the city from Piazzale Michelangelo. The vast square sits on top of a steep hill on the other side of the river.

This side of the city has a lovely feel to it with neighbourhood cafes and bars and quirky street art. Gary really liked spotting the road signs that have been altered by a French artist called Clet and I loved these designs.

We walked back to the bus stop, crossing the Arno river via the Ponte Vecchio bridge which was the only one to survive destruction during German forces retreat in 1944.

It’s lined with fancy jewellery shops on both sides and has beautiful views. We stopped by the bronze pig which supposedly delivers good luck to all those who rub its snout.

We clocked well over 15,000 steps on our Florence day out which felt like more in the sun and busy crowds but we were really taken by the city and would love to return again.

Cinque Terre

We left Rappalo in the pouring rain and travelled an hour along the coast to Levanto. This was the perfect base from which to explore the Cinque Terre as it had a campsite and a railway station. We had never really heard of the Cinque Terre before we arrived in the region but more Lonley Planet research from Emily revealed this beautiful Unesco World Heritage site.

The name literally translates to “Five Lands” but really means the five villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. These beautiful villages are perched on the side of the cliffs on one of the most sun-drenched and languid stretches of coast in all of Italy. As a result it is one of the most tourist-packed.

We originally wanted to explore the villages on the Sunday but found out the night before there was a 24hr train strike. Dam, another enforced beach day, not terrible.

The next day we arrived at the station early, along with hoards of other tourists. The train arrived 20 minutes late and was already full so it was a bit of a squeeze and reminded us of the Tube back in London. We thought we were being clever by heading to the furthest village first bit it seems everyone had the same idea.

Riomaggiore is the most southern village of the Cinque Terre. The origins of Riomaggiore date back to the 8th Century, when the inhabitants of the Vara valley, searching a milder climate to raise grapevines and olive-trees without the fear of pirate raids, moved towards the coast.

The town climbs up along the ridges overlooking the sea and it is characterized from the typical stone houses with coloured façades and slate-roofs.

After an hour exploring we headed back to the station where Emily found some colourful tiles to admire before heading to get to our next stop, Manarola.

Manarola, built on a high rock 70 metres above sea level, is one of the most charming and romantic of thevillages. The tiny harbor features a boat ramp, multicoloured houses facing the sea, a tiny piazza with seafood restaurants.

Along the main road the boats are pulled onto dry land on trolleys every time the sea is rough. Although there is no real beach here, it had some of the best deep-water swimming around these parts.

The village is all ups and downs, with steep narrow alleys leading to the sea. Another peculiarity of Manarola is a pyramid in white cement whose peak can be seen rising between the taller houses and is used as a navigational reference point for all those at sea.

We missed out Corniglia so we could spend longer in the remaining two villages of Vernazza and Monterossa.

The small fishing village Vernazza is probably the most characteristic of the Cinque Terre and is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Vernazza was founded about 1000 A.D. and was ruled by the Republic of Genoa starting in 1276. The medieval castle, Belforte, was built in the mid-1500’s, primarily to protect the village from pirates.

The tiny port is surrounded by subtle colourful pastels and the charming piazza is lined with good restaurants and bars. The village is surrounded by very steeply-terraced olive groves which are said to produce among the finest olive oil in the country.

We enjoyed an amazing lunch right beneath the castle. Emily opted for the lasagne and I opted for a local speciality of genovese pesto gnocci.

After lunch and buoyed on by the locals, I changed into my swimmers and dove into the cooling waters for a refreshing dip. Bliss.

Last but not least came Monterosso, which is the largest of the five. The village is located on hills cultivated with vines and olives. The vegetation surrounds the built-up area like an embrace; its amazing beaches, its beautiful reefs and the sea’s crystal clear waters make this small village one of the most hospitable of the Ligurian Riviera. It is probably the only one we would consider as a fly and flop location.

The village is divided in two parts marked by the medieval tower of Aurora.

The new part of town, Fegina, is full of life with quality hotels and restaurants. It is also dominated by the famous concrete statue of the Giant, built beside the terrace of a local villa. This statue was created at the beginning of the 20th century by Levacher and Minerbi, an architect and a sculptor, and represents Neptune, the god of the sea. Now it has become the symbol of Monterosso.

We never really had the time to lounge on the beach so I think we will keep this one in the bag for a revisit someday.

Au Revoir France, Bonjourno Italy.

With the gas all working we decided to wild-camp somewhere along the Italian coast near San Remo. There is something very satisfying about being able to wild-camp. Not only is it free but to be off-grid using solar power for our electrical needs and gas for the fridge and hot water gives a fantastic sense of freedom and self sufficiency. It is limited only by the size of your water tank and toilet cassette.

The drive to San Remo took us close to the beautiful town of Eze and we were going to stop and take a look. Unfortunatley I missed the turn and it was too far to turn back so we carried on through Monaco. I can’t say I saw much of Monaco as the roads were pretty tight and steep so I mostly concentrated on keeping us alive.

It wasn’t long after Monaco that we entered Italy for the first time on this trip. Au Revoir France see you in September. Bonjourno Italy we look forward to seeing what ya got.

The plan is to hit up the Italian Riviera, cruise down to Florence, flit over to Venice then slope our way back to France via the lakes.

San Remo was to be a pitstop on the way to the Italian Riviera. Good job too as we ended up in a huge gravel car park with a load of other campers, right by the sea, but not the prettiest place to stay.

The next day we drove for a 3 hours, what a grueller. Made worse by the Italian drivers. These boys and girls think they are driving around a race track. We were chatting about what defines a nation as it didnt seem to be the geographical borders in this case. As we hopped from France to Italy we didn’t see a huge distinction. Suddenly I had to beep the horn as Mario Andretti overtook me then cut into my lane to get onto his racing line. FFS. In the 51 days we have been away I have had to beep once. 1 hour in Italy and already my first beep. This is what clearly defined the difference between the French and Italians. Their driving. Despite the manicness of the Italian drivers the road took us around and indeed through some breath-taking scenery. 6 beeps later we arrived at our destination for the next few days, Rapallo.

WB Yeats, Max Beerbohm and Ezra Pound all garnered inspiration in Rapallo and it’s not difficult to see why. With its bright-blue changing cabins, palm-fringed beach and diminutive 16th-century castle perched above the sea, the town has a poetic and nostalgic air.

Our usual trick when trying to get our bearings is to head for the water front then climb up high to get an overlook. With a little bit of research we discovered that Rapallo has a cable car called La Funivia Rapallo-Montellegro.

Funivia Rapallo-Montallegro takes you from Rapallo up to Santuario Basilica Nostra Signora di Montallegro, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montallegro, a basilica finished in 1559.
According to tradition, the Madonna appeared (2 July 1557) on Monte Leto, to Giovanni Chichizola, a peasant, and showed him a picture of her passing from earthly life, saying that it had been transported by angels from Greece, and that she would leave it on the mountain side as a pledge of her love. The picture was placed in the principal Church of Rapallo for veneration, but two days later it mysteriously disappeared and was again found on a rock at Montellegro.

What better way to show our appreciation for such an historic site than to film Emily “dong miming”

The panoramic views of the Golfo del Tigullio were spectacular.

We wandered into the Basilica and marvelled at it’s ornate gold leaf detail and painted ceilings.

Then heading around the back to a perfect little Italian hill top restaurant for glass or two of prossecco. After all you can’t arrive in Italy and not celebrate with a cold, crisp, fruity glass of the local tipple.

Another day, another country another epic view…

Sainte Maxime, the Patron Saint of Thunder?

We woke to an ominous sky for our last day in the St Tropez area. We decided to enjoy a lazy morning and watch Love Island. Yes we are both obsessed. We finally managed to finish the 1st series. No, we can’t even remember who won but it’s fascinating entertainment.

By the afternoon things didn’t look much better with the sky but we were getting cabin fever so we decided to brave it, pack our cagoules and cycle the 3km to Sainte Maxime. It sits across the gulf from Saint Tropez and I would hazzard a guess that a large proportion of the worlds fanciest and most expensive yachts have anchored off its shores.
Sainte Maxime seemed to be a more family orientated town and recent developments include a new cultural centre built with a cinema and activities for both children and adults. The new road from Le Muy to Sainte Maxime has made the whole area more accessible and it is increasingly attractive as a holiday destination. The largest source of revenue for Sainte Maxime is the summer tourist industry but the city is very much alive all year round with approximately 14,000 local residents. Property is being built along the coastline and restaurants and bars with music are springing up everywhere. However, the town retains its local traditions and there are several festivals throughout the year in celebration of its history.

Unfortunatley for us about 5 minutes after we arrived the heavens opened, the sky lit up and thunder rumbled so loud it shook the shop windows. We ran into a post office to send some postcards to our parents (let us know when you get them please) and then waited under a facade for the storm to fizzle out.

After about 20 mins the rain had subsided enough for us to at least wander around and find somewhere to have a warm drink. We settled upon Maison Du Chocolat as I really felt like a hot chocolate and Emily needed a cake. Yes needed.

Feeling refreshed and realising the rain was not going to stop we dragged ourselves out of the Chocolate shop and wandered the town in our very stylish get up – we really embodied the South of France chic.

Who would have thought that we would find an Artisan Boulangerie with yet more iresistable sweet stuff that we needed. We reasoned (fooled ourselves) that we must try the local speciality of tarte tropezienne.

Oh my they were good. Like little fluffy clouds made of cream. I wish I didn’t have such a sweet tooth. With our bellies full of sugar we peddled extra fast along the empty cycle path back to Harvey for some more Love Island. Losers…

The Gulf of St Tropez


We spent the majority of the morning trying to locate a local mechanic, gas engineer or motorhome specialist who could confirm the problem with the gas system and order us a new regulator. Knowing that we are on the road for the next four months we needed to get it sorted. This proved much more difficult than we thought and we found ourselves in many awkward phone calls with broken French and poor google translate assistance. We even tried calling some ship chandlers that specialise in sorting issues for yachts in the hope that they’d have some ideas.

We called our motorhome dealer from back home first thing and when they got back to us they were great. After a chat with their engineer we were confident that it was definitely the regulator that had gone and given that we’d only had the van for six weeks, they offered to replace it as a goodwill gesture. They had one in stock and sent it via DPD to us. We were told this would take up to four business days and we had a weekend in between. The prospect of hanging around for another week in the same place felt like a bit of a waste, so our spirits were lifted when the campsite owner in Biot agreed to hold on to our delivery until we came back. We decided to head east along the coast for a bit then pick up the new regulator when it arrived.

We plumped for a campsite called Les Mures in the heart of the gulf of St Tropez. On first impressions it was a complete contrast to our previous place. Way more contemporary, immaculate facilities and beautiful landscaped gardens. It is sat right on a sandy beach with incredible views across the bay.

Following the stress of the van issues we needed a bit of a release and we’ve had an awesome few days exploring our new surroundings. On Friday we used the cycle lane to visit Port Grimaud located 3km along the bay. It’s a charming little port village that can only be accessed by foot or boat so it feels really peaceful. It’s called the little Venice of France because of the many canals weaving their way throughout the town. All the houses are painted in terracottas, creams and dusky pinks, and some feature wrought iron balconies. There are little Venetian-style bridges crossing the waterways, linking the different ‘streets’ and boutiques and restaurants on the waterfront.

We wandered through the little streets and gawped at the amazing boats in the harbour whilst we ate lunch.

On the Saturday we got up and out earlier to visit the market at St Tropez. Based on the beautiful Place des Lices, the market is a mix of fresh produce, crafts and fashion. There is definitely a St Tropez style and this is reflected in the gorgeous sun hats, white linen dresses and straw beach bags on sale. The whole place is immaculately presented and all the people are effortlessly chic.

It feels like a place to be seen, with cafes and restaurants lining the harbour and luxury boutiques rubbing shoulders with art galleries. The small town is packed with tourists in the day, all wanting a slice of St Tropez life and admiring the huge yachts at Vieux Port. It’s a completely different world, with butlers, private chefs, helicopters on the boats and Rolls Royce transfers to exclusive beach clubs.

Behind the gloss and glam there is a lovely core to St Tropez which was a simple fishing village before the likes of Brigette Bardot arrived in the 50’s and set the scene. We wandered up to a beautiful viewpoint and looked down upon the sun drenched, terracotta town and out towards the Mediterranean. In the afternoon we cycled on to Pampelonne beach which is about 4km along the coast from the town.

The road that we turned off onto was stunning, with vineyards on one side and fields of golden corn on the other. It made for a pleasant cycle away from the hustle and bustle.

The beach is 5km long and host to a string of celebrity studded beach clubs and bars – or so we hear. We ended up in the much less exclusive public section which was equally as beautiful. We sunbathed for a couple of hours before finding a bar that was showing England’s final match against Belgium. We were the only two Brits amongst 30 Belgium fans so losing was pretty grim.

We cycled back in the late afternoon sun, savouring the wonderful scenery. The cycle lane that hugs the coast is great because the main road is super busy and hectic. That said, the French are very respectful of cyclists, much more so than in the UK.

We got back with sore bottoms and hungry bellies. We watched the Bastille day fireworks from the van before falling asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

Moving on to the French Riviera


We enjoyed our afternoon in Castellane which was hugely enhanced by a delicious lunch and England’s victory over Sweden in the World Cup quarter final. We had to leave the Aire in Castellane by midday which gave us just enough time to tackle the hike up Le Roc which soars 180 meters above the town. It’s a big limestone mountain that dominates everything below it and overshadowed the Aire in which we’d stayed. We stopped by the boulangerie on the way up for croissant sustenance and embarked upon the ascent. Having a shower before hand was totally futile because we were sweating profusely within minutes. The sun was incredibly strong, even in the early morning but we made good progress, passing small religious markers as we went up. The view from the top was stunning and the little chapel was very sweet. We could see the bright aqua blue of the river Verdon dissect the gorge and Castellane resembled a toy-town below. We were surrounded on all sides by mountains and greenery and the air felt fresh.

We made our way back down the scrabbly path, feeling pleased with ourselves with our accomplishment. One last quick stroll around town before we packed up Harvey and got back on the road. We were finally heading south to the Cote D’Azure. Having experienced such amazing weather recently, I was looking forward to spending some time on the beach and we plumped for a camp site in Biot. It took us a good hour to weave and wind our way out of the Alpes-du-Haute Provence which remained hilly throughout. There were so many motorbikes on the road with riders enjoying the thrills of the hairpin bends and beautiful views. Some of these guys drove way too fast and with poor road discipline, often edging out of their lane or taking blind corners way too wide which would cause us to break or swerve and had my heart racing.

Other than the odd, small village this region was remote and beautifully unspoilt. Eventually the mountains gave way and the road opened out to reveal views of the sea on the horizon. As we made our final descent down the mother of all mountains, we could see the town of Grasse in front of us and Cannes beyond that.

We arrived at the campsite around 3.30pm and it felt like a place that time had forgot. Woefully dated and pretty empty but it was situated minutes from the beach, just 4km from Antibes and right opposite the train station. We had plenty of space but we were sharing it with mozzies and giant creepy crawlies. What’s more is that it’s the most expensive campsite yet, but we’ve come to expect that everything is spendy in the South of France. We were only planning to stay for 3 nights so used it as a convenient base. We dumped our stuff and headed straight to the beach for a relaxing couple of hours in the late afternoon sun. The beach was busy and there was a lovely atmosphere with families enjoying themselves. It’s a pebble beach with a steep drop off which made for an equally uncomfortable and hilarious walk into the sea. Once I’d scrambled out myself I sat watching all the other poor sods battle with the crashing waves and pebbles that gave way under their feet. The techniques varied hugely with some people opting for an all fours crawl and others adopting the bottom shuffle – all equally great to watch.

We went back to the campsite feeling pretty knackered and enjoyed a refreshing shower before making dinner in the van and getting an early night, in preparation for further adventures on the coast.

The journey or the destination? The Gorges du Verdon

We thought Provence was all olive groves, vineyards, Mediterranean pine forests and lavender fields. However the region, whose name is often shortened to Provence, is actually known as Provence – Alpes – Côte d’Azur. Or, in English, Provence Alps and the Riviera. Moving east from Avignon, or north from Nice, one soon gets into hill country and very soon after that into the limestone massifs of the Alpine foothills. The land is arid and in places barren; but though the climate here is generally dry, this is an area crossed by rivers flowing down from the snowy peaks of the Alps. Over millions of years, they have carved deep valleys in the limestone, none of them longer and deeper than that of the Verdon.
From its source near the Italian Border, the Verdon runs south as far as Castellane. While much of the valley is spectacular, it in is the section between Castellane and Manosque that the river has carved its impressive canyon known as the
The Gorges du Verdon.

There are those who come for the spectacular road trip round the edge of the gorge just like us ; there are those who come to enjoy some of the exhilarating hiking trails in and around the gorge.

Then there are some who come to admire the bird life – vultures, eagles and other birds of prey. Finally, there are those who come to enjoy the experience of paddling up the bottom end of the gorge in a canoe or a kayak or a pedal boat.

Our route required Harvey to dig deep into his power reserves as we climbed higher and higher above Lac Sainte Croix. All of the way up I was eyeing every bend working out how I would take it if I were on my motorbike. The drive was exhilarating even in Harvey our 3.5 tonne Motorhome. I resolved to come back one day and ride this route on VEM (Triumph Street Triple R)

After two hours of breathtaking scenery, hairpin bends and exhilarating driving, we were happy and content to arrive at our destination for the night, Castellane.