Sainte Croix Lake
We started off with the very best intentions – a « low budget » weekend at the Gorges du Verdon (one of the most spectacular natural regions in Provence.
The off-season rates for the region are very attractive, and although you might not have an opportunity to kayak down those crystal-blue rapids, the views are guaranteed to impress.
It’s difficult at this time of year not to get caught up in the French-vacation flurry that takes place the last two weeks of February. This is the period when French families flock to the ski resorts at various points north, indulging not only in long afternoons on the slopes, but also in all the pleasures of chalet life – think lots of hot wine and pretty much any dish involving cheese & potatoes.
So in trying to get a piece of this French-holiday magic, we hit the road early Saturday morning for the Haut Var, namely Villecroze and the villages surrounding Sainte Croix lake. This is a stunning region that sees few visitors in the winter namely because it has none of the ski slopes the French are searching for. But I would also recommend it for a winter side-trip because, well… it’s totally gorgeous.
You leave the busy highway to be surrounded in nature. The calm forests, the serene lakeside villages, and you might even find a sanglier (wild boar) crossing your path (sidenote: drive carefully, very carefully) Plus… *drumroll* we had snow. Glorious snow. This-only-happens-once-a-year-aren’t-you-lucky kinda snow. It was stunning and I hope these photos capture a part of that… or I just happen to have about another 250 shots I could send around.
There’s just way too much to see in the Haut Var / Haute Provence to be covered in one post. Due to the snow, we never made it to the Gorges du Verdon (although we took a spectacular scenic drive around Sainte Croix lake), so went spent most of Saturday touring the surrounding villages by car – Lorgues, Tourtour, Aups, and Salernes.
Our hotel room was a steal (€48) and I’d love to go for another visit before the rates go up (double, in fact) just after Easter until the end of September. The region is definitely a must-see but also not much of a secret. If you can steal away for a winter weekend, you’ll beat the crowds that fill the Haut Var in the spring and summer. Even on a very snowy weekend, that peace & calm is priceless.
Where to Stay:
Our very budget-friendly hotel (+restaurant), Les Esparrus.
Where to Eat:
La Table de Pôl in the village of Lorgues.
A drive around Sainte Croix lake to the village of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon; views guarenteed to couper le souffle – take your breath away.
Tourist Information:Learn more about the Var department on Provence Web.Offical site for les Alpes de Haute Provence (including the Gorges du Verdon).