There can be no doubt now that we are into spring, at least down here in Taradeau. The blossom is coming out on the almond and the plum trees, the temperature is nudging up towards 20°C, the supermarkets are starting to stock swimming pool equipment, and we even have a couple of orchids in the garden. In the midst of it all we had another busy week and are beginning to wonder if there is any other kind.
Last Saturday, however we took the day off and headed north for a day out from Taradeau. One of the nice things about the Var region where we live is that it is not really on the tourist routes and most of the guidebooks tend to skip over it. The result is that it’s perfectly possible to accidentally stumble across delightful spots. So we encountered the curiously named Tourtour which was utterly charming but had paid for it by the fact that most of the houses seem to be owned by people from northern Europe who were absent over winter; the result was a curious sort of a ghost town. Aups, in contrast, turned out to be a lively bustling market town. We then headed on past Lac St Croix, which is in fact a large reservoir (we camped there in 2009). It was very tranquil at this time of year, with splendid views and distant snowcapped peaks. Spring has not yet arrived here.
We then drove up along the south side of the Gorges du Verdon, which does make it into the tourist books, because it’s Europe’s deepest gorge. Although the regular comparisons with the Grand Canyon are somewhat exaggerated, it still pretty impressive. It was a lot colder here, not just because of a higher altitude but also because it’s much further from the coast (and you don’t have to go very far north from the Mediterranean before you get into a much more continental climate). The result was that high above the gorge not only was there no sign of spring but winter was still firmly in control.
The narrow and winding road, demanding at the best of times, was particularly ‘interesting’ in places because there were snow piles at the edges and slush in the middle. We then drove back over the enormous and largely deserted military training ground of the Plateau de Canjuers. A fascinating journey, and one that we will do again when the weather is better: there’s a famed and distinctly challenging walking route along the gorge floor and we want to try it.
Thursday we returned to Les Courmettes, overnighting there before coming back on Friday. It was good to be back, particularly with the arrival of David and Esther who will be working up there for the next three months. There’s a real sense of a new and very busy year ahead. Although it was slightly chilly at night, the weather was glorious and the skies the sort of intense blue that when you see it in a photograph, you think must be exaggerated. It’s not in this photo. We will be back up next week sometime.
And there isn’t space to talk about the joys and tribulations of a new computer (with a French keyboard), getting the pool fixed, the frustrations of our Internet connection and getting ourselves properly signed up with the local doctor. For each of us that last involved the best part of thirty minutes of discussion, examination and health recommendations. It was gratifying to be told that he doesn’t expect to see a lot of us. He’s a great doctor but we’re happy to keep our meetings fairly infrequent. We haven’t the time.