Leaving the Gorges du Verdon behind, our Summer tour through Eastern France continues. Next, we head towards the lesser known, but equally beautiful Lac de Castillon.
This 8km lake of turquoise blue, stretches out across the landscapes of the Haute-Provence, surrounded by steep, rugged mountains. We arrive from the direction of Castellane – the hub of the Verdon region and a town well worthy of a stay. Most importantly, it’s right here where Lac de Castillon begins and we can’t wait to see what it has in store.
It’s early evening by the time we reach the blue water of the lake. Surprisingly, the roads are quiet, despite it being the first week of September. Ahead of us is a narrow channel of water and the huge concrete wall of the dam. Crossing it brings the views of this scenic reservoir even closer. At 95m high and 200m wide, it’s no wonder we feel like we’re part of the lake itself.
So far, there’s only really been us and the scenery for company. Then we pass some kayakers, probably making the most of the cooler time of day.
During Summer, Lac de Castillon is a perfect spot for water activities, of course it’s not just kayaks available to hire either. Yes, there’s plenty of other water sports to choose from! First up – how about a bit of boating, followed by paddle boarding or even a gentle swim on one of the beaches? Oh what it is to have sunshine, serene water and idyllic mountains at your fingertips.
As the lakeside route winds it’s way along the water, we’re just happy to sit back and enjoy the ride. Then we notice a long stretch of water-side parking, where several motorhomes are parked up for the night.
Our curiosity gets the better of us, so we drive in to take a look. However, not all is what it seems! That’s because one of the first things we see are signs stating “no overnight parking” and one thing we don’t like to do is disobey the rules.
So, onwards we drive and before long we find ourselves in the town of St.André-Les-Alpes and the end of the lake.
Now, luckily there’s not one but two Aires here and we opt for the free one in the town centre. As is often the case, it’s functional and practical with a good service point and plenty of room. All in all, it’s a perfectly good stop for the night, so we’re ready to explore in the morning.
As the dawn of a new day is upon us, our thoughts turn to setting out on foot. Directly form the Aire is a marked walking route, leading us out from the quiet town and into the open countryside.
Soon we reach a wide and fairly dry river bed, where a bridge crossing leads us on towards the opposite bank.
Our path leads above the lake, where the finest views appear, across the water on this hilltop setting. We stop to take in the scenery and admire the views which span out for miles around. Then, the path draws closer towards a rather unique focal point – a statue of two Saints.
It’s a refreshing change to walk today without too much difficulty, let alone appreciate the commanding lakeside views. We’re surrounded by incredible mountains, that feel in touching distance in the haze of sunlight.
For now we pause, relax with a mug of hot coffee from our flask and just enjoy our surroundings.
There’s no doubt that Lac de Castillon, being the second largest lake in the Verdon National Parc to Lac de Sainte Croix is the less visited.
Sometimes it’s good to have the place to yourself and there’s no doubt we feel we’ve found a quieter corner of the region here.
The obvious low-key feel to the lake is somewhat different to its hugely popular competitor – Lac St.Croix. It seems a place for locals, rather than the mass tourism that other parts of this beautiful region attract.
For now, as we stroll back towards the campervan, our thoughts turn to “where next”? As usual we’re not too sure which direction to go. Finally, we take a look through St Andre itself – a town of few attractions, typically French and unassuming.
There’s no better feel than watching the gentle tones of late Summer across the town square. An eccentric mix of elderly folk sitting, drinking wine under the shade of a leafy tree, whilst others hurry on by – a bundle of French baguettes tucked under the arm.
Oh how we still love La France!
Now has come our time to move on, away from the Gorges du Verdon, Castellane and Lac de Castillon. Next we’re driving in the direction of Digne-les-Bains, but choosing not to stop in this rather large town. First though, we check out the Aire, but choose to give it a miss – there’s too much going on there for our liking.
Something doesn’t feel right and the appeal isn’t great. Not to mention the dust and noise from nearby roadworks vibrating across the street.
Instead, we leave Digne-les-Bains behind. Then find ourselves heading out towards a quieter village Aire at Malijai.
Here, we park up with a few other motorhomes, just in time for a decent storm. There’s time to relax, catch up on our travel diary and shelter from the rains.
Little do we realise, that just up the road is the most wonderful natural site and one where we can’t resist exploring!
Find out more next time! Don’t forget you can find plenty more of our adventures, here’s a few to choose from!