journey to the giant ditch
Category : Seeing the World
I did it. I got up off the sun lounger, departed my poolside happy-place. We all did, on Wednesday, in search of a canyon, one that suits the name and, I’d go so far as to say, is possibly in the same class as the grand one state-side.
It was a long drive and there were some rough times with the wee ones. Always a risk, travelling with a baby and toddler.
All in all they did very well. Louis slept a lot and Elena had several short sleeps but was less than content for quite a while later in the day. Holding Gran’s hand seemed to help some of the time.
We had lunch at Saint Maxime before heading inland and drove through a military base on our way to the canyon. Saw a few soldiers in their trucks and a base-area with loads of tanks. Bit of advice: don’t attack France with anything. Other than words – liberte! after all.
We drove toward Castellane, through a gorge, thinking it was the canyon. The rock formations were awe-inspiring and the scale, grand!
Castellane was fantastic – pokey little street after pokey cobbled little street, wonky and ancient buildings and walls, with bright shutters and intriguing doorways
This particular path was narrower than the rest, but wider either side of this point. Still, not for cars, this road. And it wasn’t the only one.
We found a cafe and indulged in waffles and crepes with our afternoon coffee. Louis preferred the fountain to his waffle – mad child. He was particularly fascinated by the gutter beneath the doggy-trough bit… Mum was a bit worried when he started drinking the water out of his hand and then we realized he’d learnt that particular trick from her at teeth-brushing time the previous night. Hm…
Elena took turns cuddling and dancing about with each of us, glad to be free of the car.
It was a gorgeous little courtyard with a few shops around, no doubt a hive of activity in peak season, but most of the shops were still open for us to look around, even though school’s been back for three weeks now.
One particular shop stood out, what with having no postcards out front. Or was it the gas-mask-wearing mannequin? Inside we discovered a holy grail of… well, crap, if I’m honest. But old crap. Like helmets from wars and shell-casings from what must have been small missiles!
Another interesting sight – High above Castellane there is this crazy cliff, and upon the cliff, a church. Kept catching glimpses of it between crooked buildings.
Luuk found a map in one shop and discovered that we had not yet seen the actual canyon, so off we went to find it, hoping the kids wouldn’t completely lose it.
We drove past this town twice in our travels and it captured our imaginations – a castle cut into the rock, layers of these tall, narrow houses, and a noisy donkey on the hill. What must it be like to live here?
The view, looking back toward Castellane was amazing – huge sky and layer upon layer of mountains and valleys, numerous quaint towns, cliffs and rocks and forests…
Finally, over another hill, we found the actual canyon.
Hello, vertigo. The cliff just fell away beneath the road and further along it was even more dramatic.
A colleague of Luuk’s had told him of a thousand foot drop and it lived up to expectations. We wowed our way along a very high road, looking out and over at a deep, deep ditch, the river at the bottom, a squiggle of shiny water in the distance.
It was a long drive home but we more than fulfilled the adventure quota of our holiday!
We spent the next day lazing about, poolside or inside, reading and relaxing. Elena, celebrating her freedom from a confining carseat, no doubt, did her first roll! And Louis, not to be outdone, fell in the pool, giving us a fair scare. I put my kindle down, somehow doing it no damage at all, and dived in. I lifted him to the surface, not knowing what to expect. He didn’t even choke – must’ve held his breath, smart cookie. And whew. He was a bit upset but very robust really.