Riez via Barcelonnette

One of the main reasons we headed southeast in France this year was to get into an area that we have hitherto not visited. The southeast part of France shouldering up against Italy contains a national park called the Mercantour and, if the weather was favourable, it being mountainous, we wanted to take a look. The chief tourist town for the Mercantour is Barcelonnette and, since the weather forecast was, indeed, fair (other than a strong following wind), we set off on the 100 miles to get there.

It was a fabulously picturesque drive, especially the first half going through and out of the Diois. This is an area we’ll have on our return visit list. Having dragged poor ol’ Billy up and over a couple of serious cols, when we got to Barcelonnette it didn’t really grab. The campsite we had earmarked looked more like someone’s back garden and certainly didn’t grab so we flipped a U-turn, no mean feat with Billy on the back, and hightailed it back out of the valley. We had both been wondering why we were there.

Plan B was put into immediate effect which was to head toward Provence and Digne-les-Bains. Neither Digne-les-Bains nor its campsites sounded too appealing but a site near Riez, a camping à la ferme, sounded great. We dragged Billy over yet another col, this one at 1340m/4000ft, down another picturesque valley and through Digne-les-Bains, which actually looked a lot more attractive than the Rough Guide’s description would have one believe. Going up yet another zig-zagging climb we came upon a beautiful high Provençal plateau in which sat our newly targeted campsite.

Billy's night view Billy's evening view It’s great; it has sun and views. We’re near St. Jurs about 10 miles north of Riez, which looks like a pleasantly sized town, neither too big nor too small,

and there are clearly things around here to keep us amused for a while, such as the Gorge de Verdon.

We’ll have to amend our idea of what turns us on.

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