We spent two weeks in Provence in a small mountain village around the river bend from Les Gorges du Verdon.
When my boyfriend told me that his grandparents had a lake house, I bit my lip. I never liked lake houses in the United States—I associated them with dirty water, loud, sticky children and gritty moonshine over a weak campfire.
Well. I quickly learned that lake houses in Provence, let alone France, are very different. Transparent water. Pure air. A three-minute walk away from fresh chocolate croissants in the morning.
There are two sides of Les Gorges du Verdon. There’s one side that is more accessible through the lower part of the mountains and in close proximity to the main village and city centers. The roads have clear signage and the pavement is in decent condition. Racks of kayaks and canoes surround the edge of the gorge.
Then there’s the other side of Les Gorges du Verdon.
It’s much higher in the mountains. It takes what I will describe as a beautiful, yet equally terrifying, 40-minute drive to get anywhere—even in a well-equipped all-wheel-drive SUV.
Tourists only visit this side during the day because there’s nowhere for them to stay. This side of Les Gorges du Verdon is for the lucky few who live here year-round or spend their summers relaxing in their private homes. Neighbors have been neighbors for decades.
The village has everything you could need for a summer vacation—a bakery, a café, a buvette, a brasserie, a tabac and a convenience store—but you’re better off running errands down the mountain.
The handful of villages that are around this side of the lake are virtually untouched by time. New construction cannot be built in the area because it’s considered a national heritage site.
Most homes here face the Lac du Verdon. You could spend hours staring out from your bedroom window, mesmerized by the wooded rock faces, their reflections rippling on the water, and still wonder if you’re looking at a digitally-retouched photo on a framed portrait.
I’m still looking back at my photos from this trip and remembering how it was all so real.
I’ll be sharing plenty of more photos from Provence, including Cassis and Les Calanques. Stay tuned!