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1 week in the Gorges du Verdon= 2 campsites to discover the richness of this incredible site

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Natural environment of the Verdon

​Little Sinkhole: a Doline

Note here and there round depressions, to the bottom cover of different herbaceous vegetation of nearby clear undergrowth and landes. It comes to sinkholes, tangible manifestation of the karstic phenomena which, over time, by dissolution of limestone, are originally from training abysses, underground with their resurgence rivers, or the filing of the emergence of petrifying Springs Tuff. By chemical reaction, carbon dioxide-rich water dissolves calcium carbonate rock. Gradually, by infiltration of runoff, the limestone dissolves is drained away, while the impurities it contains (flint, clays, metal oxides), insoluble, remain in place. Over time (spoken by tens of millions of years), the "leakage" of limestone form a depression whose bottom is lined with a more or less impermeable layer of clay. A “doline” is born.

With the wind...

The Mistral is particularly feared on the Valensole plateau. II admit it cannot find, on this flat vastness, no obstacle to his race, when, descendant of the Rhone Valley there rushes into those of the Durance and the ASSE. If it can cool the air in a few hours, the Mistral also hunting the clouds and clears the horizon for the delight of photographers. It is often said that it can blow 3, 6 or 9 days straight..., but there is no evidence that it meets deadlines. The greatest mischief of the wind remains mussing roofs covered with tiles (say romance...) in general simply laid on the roof. The last row of tiles is sometimes held in place by stones called "shore". But they are especially the bell towers that are exposed to the wind and therefore explains the tradition of Bell towers appeared in the 17th century but whose development lies primarily in the 19th. It is said that this is the reason why it became the habit of locking up the communal in an "iron cage" clock Bell as it was known in the 18th century bell towers. Moreover, the campanile itself means rather the tower which supports the bells. Widespread in Provence, the bell towers are generally present in all the villages in the plateau: very ornate, like that of Valensole (18th century) or simple (like that of Saint-Martin-de-Brômes).There are also some similarities between Germany-en-Provence and Roumoules, certainly made by the same blacksmith. Behind this (relative) usefulness, the bell towers are also a hallmark for the village, reflecting a desire to beautify...

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“Black lands”

But what are these "black land " present throughout this journey? Clue, these are the marls, i.e. a mixture of limestone and clay. The limestone come from the accumulation of debris shells or skeletons of animals at shallow depth, where is concentrated the majority of aquatic life. Clays, they, are derived from erosion and transported by rivers and torrents, settle in greater depth. Cases in which clays and limestones settle - they all?
•    The leveling of a river where inputs of clays blend in limestone? Here, the extent and regularity of the layers allow to exclude this possibility.
•    A great Lake? Searching a little, there is released by erosion, a small Ammonite. They lived in the oceans.
We will therefore conclude that we are at sea, nor too close (it would be limestone), nor too far (it would be clays) from the shore. As for the black color which, in sediment from the rapid burial of plants, it shows a tropical climate, lush vegetation.

Gypsum and gypsery

Gypsum is a saline sedimentary rock which are found many deposits in Provence. The stone was first cooked then reduced powder in a mill such as that you can visit to Saint-Jurs. The wheel was operated by animal force, where the name of "mill to blood" (very colourful) distinguishes this mode of production of the wind or water mills. The resulting powder is first soft and gives what is commonly called the plaster. Mixed with water it solidifies and again deserves the name of gypsum that the Provençal language has retained as well as the french of the Canada. Known since antiquity, the plaster is one of the first materials used for the construction: mortar, plaster and even brick. were made in plaster. It is also an excellent firewall. It covered the Interior beams and wooden outdoor structures.Paris in 1667, following the fire which ravaged London, Louis XIV imposed that the timber-framed houses are covered with plaster (found also of gypsum in abundance in the Paris Basin). But the plaster in the Renaissance was also used for decorative purposes, called gypsery in Provence: the plaster, or rather the gypsum, carved or molded on-site, complimented the vaults and the railings of stairs, ceilings and chimney them, giving the appearance of the stone while testing more easy to implement. Riez was an important art of the plaster. The staircase of the hotel of Mazan, several houses of the Grande Rue and the Ferrier Hotel chimneys to keep track. At different levels these gypsery are found in all the villages of the surrounding area, mainly in wealthy homes, in Germany-en-Provence, Valensole, Moustiers. A Saint Jurs extraction of plaster is attested as early as the 16th century. The 19th municipality had 5 Mills last ceased its activity in the 1920s. Below the Church, a recently restored plaster mill traces this craft technique

Caves in the gorges

Occupied for at least 400,000 years low and average Verdon gorges are witnesses of the installation and the evolution of men in Haute-Provence. In the lower and middle Paleolithic, anteneandertaliens (Baume good) and their descendants, the Neanderthal men (Baume Bonne, shelter Breuil Grotto Sainte-Maxime) found in these gorges both shelters (against the cold rain, wild beasts), abundant wildlife (Ibex on the cliffs, bison on the Plains, beavers in the Verdon, horses in the plain of Quinson) and matter first for their tools (chaillé(, Flint in the form of pebbles). It would seem that the first modern humans (Upper Paleolithic) have little occupied shores Verdon low, only traces of their passage in la Baume Bonne. Similarly, we note the very punctual presence of the last hunter-gatherers of the Mesolithic period (the bridge of Quinson shelter). In the Neolithic (appearance of sedentary farming populations) and during the Bronze age, the gorges are again invested. Men live there (shelter of Captain garden, Church, cave walled network), are dying (shelter of Pont de Quinson, shelter of red dots, cave Muree, dolmens of St. Lawrence) and perhaps practice ceremonies (shelter Donner, the Church, Aven of Vauclare network).From the Iron Age, men cease to occupy the caves and shelters on a regular basis to settle in height (oppidum of Saint-Michel). Throughout the following centuries, gorges will serve as a refuge in troubled times, shelter to "marginal" (the famous bandit Gaspard de Besse), Habitat to the shepherds, (walled caves Montpezat and Esparron).

A story of water

In the regional natural park of Verdon, water is a recurring theme around which the communes are federated. Currently in phase of study, a pattern of development and management of water (SAGE) will be soon implemented throughout the catchment area of the river. A smaller local scale, two Interpretive trails rely on this theme to tell the story and the life of the village of Artignosc. Water is a major element of the life of formerly. We have forgotten the efforts sometimes need to do daily to obtain and the regular fear of Miss. She draws a sort of intimate history of village communities: here, as in Moissac is the sale of a communal wood which provides an abundant source. Trigance is a generous donor who allows the municipality to build cistern and fountain. The communal archives abound in deliberations on water: search of new sources, maintenance of wells, bickering around its use. Most often, a single source were fed a village of 200 people and the fountain was the heart of the village. At the beginning of Artigriosc, can follow step by step the history of water, the rock where it originates to the mill that she turn, passing by the fountain, the wash-house and the pesquier without forgetting the fountain of prestige of the Lord.
Any step of this "water path" which illustrate the principle of rational use, the cleaner needs (the drink of men), for irrigation of gardens and meadows. A two-hour course which comes timely enrich our decision-making of environmental awareness on the water resource.

Sainte-Croix Lake

If the Lake today bears the name of St. Croix, the municipality on which the dam was built, however is the village of les Salles-sur-Verdon who paid the highest price to the hydroelectric development of the Valley. The ancient village, completely destroyed and engulfed in 1974 when the water of the Lake, was rebuilt a few hundred meters higher up. Despite its modern development and the development of tourist activities related to boating and swimming, the municipality still lives with pain trauma, and does not want to lose the memory. In the village, a historical path makes the link between the old and the new village through public monuments. Around the Lake, a botanical trail tells what was life in the Valley before the dam. Finally at the "Lake House", a permanent exhibition presents through movies, photos and models what was the old village... As many original and moving a story strictly speaking discoveries 'extraordinary'.
Tuff fossil or still active resurgences that punctuate the limestone cliffs are often highlighted by "castings" Brown-yellowish tuff that draw the flow of water. The tufa or travertine (the two words are synonyms) is a crumbly rock that forms by precipitation of limestone dissolved in water. Nothing is created, nothing is lost, this chemical reaction is the exact reverse of the dissolution which occurs on the trays when rain water by "attacking" the limestone is at the origin of the formation of karst. The maximum content of limestone dissolved that can hold water is function, among other things, of its carbon dioxide content. When, after his stay underground in the karst network, water reappears, it loses some of its carbon dioxide, which causes the precipitation of limestone dissolved (this is the same phenomenon that loads and clogs the valves). Petrifying Springs result from crusting of the surrounding vegetation by Tuff which precipitates in splash. The turbulence of the cascades, in "venting" water are another cause of "loss" of carbon dioxide, and therefore deposition of travertine.

Castillon Lake

From the early twentieth century , the state planned to use the waters of the Verdon to produce electricity, Lake of Castillon was the first major reservoir of the department .
The dam has been considerable work for the time and ran from 1929 to 1948 . During its impoundment , the village of Castillon was swallowed and the N212 road. We can also , when the water level drops , see the old Pont Julien . Today , Lake Castillon covers an area of ​​500 hectares and extends over a length of 8 km downstream from Saint -André- les-Alpes . It contains about 150 million m3 of water used primarily for hydroelectric production and constitute a reserve for agricultural irrigation and drinking water supply in the region,
Managed beaches and water bases of Saint -André- les-Alpes , Saint -Julien -du- Verdon Castellane and allow the practice of water sports and swimming , the latter being supervised in July and August on the three sites.

Silver of Fournel

L'Argentière-la-Bessée owes its name to the silver-lead mines, exploited since the Middle Ages; this wealth led to his being granted the Dauphin Guigues V in 1155 is then operated the mine very primitive way.; rock, very hard, could not be attacked with a hammer after expansion by fire. One can imagine the dangers of this technique! The galleries were excavated and narrow, winding and poorly documented. In total, twelve thousand tons of ore were extracted in two centuries. Abandoned for five hundred years, the mine was put back into service in the third century. Technological advances - dynamite, hydraulic pumps - the site then extended on both banks of the river Fournel, over four hundred yards; in 1855, hundred thirty-five workers worked there and lived there with their wives and children. The operation ended in 1908 with the exhaustion of the vein.

Under the skis, chourums

Superdévoluy skiers hurtling down the track Chourum they know that the word means, in local dialect, a pit dug by seepage into the limestone floor? There are over 400 chourums in Dévoluy. Deeper beyond 1,000 meters and some are full of ice. Martel, the inventor of Verdon, was the first to descend into a chourum in 1896, and since cavers explored with the method. It is huge coolers: if the input remains well protected from sun, snow entering it settles, turns and recrystallized by strata, scroll to the changing hues Wedding relief of the cavity ; temperature never exceeds 1 ° C. At the bottom of Chourum Clot, west of Agnières were discovered after a significant thaw, larch trunks old 400 years.

Like birds

The sky of Haute- Provence is a paradise for anything that flies . The sunshine , forms and directions terrain create, in effect , excellent conditions for gliding and paragliding activities . The glider uses thermals , born of warming of the air, and dynamic thermals created by the terrain. On the south and west sides of cliffs , both types are combined , allowing high rates of climb . The glider rises spiral in thermal power plants ancestries or riding in a straight line along the windward slopes . It can cover distances of more than a thousand kilometers on a tour program in advance. Modern machines achieve impressive performance which are expressed by their coefficient of finesse, they can go, from an altitude of a thousand meters , a distance gliding sixty kilometers . In theory, because if the air is animated ancestries , there are also movements in opposite directions , which can cause a forced landing in a field . Golf Gliding region whose aviation plateau of Saint -Auban are every summer , the place of concentration of practitioners of this sport. Facing the cliff peak Bure looking for the fastest riser , rub eagles, suddenly emerge above the peak in the blue sky , are all unforgettable experiences. Free , paragliding and hang gliding , experience and a good knowledge of the upper air mountain flight , is the sacrament necessary to start from the top of a peak . But there are schools that avoid at Icarus people of burning wings under Provençal's sun !

La Corniche Sublime

At Aiguines , begins the Corniche Road overlooking the south bank of the Verdon. Illoire to the neck , opportunities exist on Lake St. Croix and the canyon. In the circus Vaumale , where a source of fresh water springs , the course became forest , is about five hundred feet above the bed of the river and close to two hundred feet above the edge of the plateau the right bank that appears below. In no Imbut and cliff Baucher is the new confrontation with breathtaking landscapes. At the foot of the cliff of Baucher that the waters of the Verdon played a fantastic game of hide and seek with a chaos of collapsed blocks : the passage of the Styx . Edward Martel gave him this name when his first expedition in 1905, after Armand , fallen into the tumultuous waters, or exclaimed: "This is hell! " . Cliff Cavaliers, where there is a restaurant, the view is breathtaking . The intrepid walker can reach the pebble bed while Verdon , a dizzying path. Gateway of Estellié , carried by the river in 1994 allowed to earn the right bank and join the trail Martel. It has been rebuilt since . On the left bank , the trail ( cornice ) Imbut is cut on the side and always difficult . It can reach the Styx , and continues until the foot of the '' Imbut .
At the Straits Cavaliers , the road deviates from the canyon, joined Tunnel du Fayet , pierced by a row of openings, and departs again before bypass Pilon du Fayet . Finally, the road crosses the canyon Artuby a few hundred meters upstream from the Mescla .
Technical achievement at the time of its construction in 1936 , I immense reinforced concrete arch bridge spanning the Artuby , one spirit , one hundred and ten yards separating the two very steep canyon walls . Today thrill seekers practice bungee jumping , springing from the parapet of the work. Balconies overlook the Mescla the only hairpin bend the Verdon described around a rocky ridge, two hundred and fifty feet below the Baumes of Hirondelles et des Chiens upstream and downstream Baume des Boeufs . These caves dug by eddies of the river served as a shelter for wild animals or not , and sometimes , to humans. River tangentially addresses this natural obstacle facing the Baumes des Feres and it is the very tip of his meander, the Mescla that waters Artuby mingle with hers. Upstream, the eye can follow , without impediment , green and almost straight ribbon of the river that runs at the foot bars Escalès .

paddle boat in the Lake Sainte-Croix
Climbing tree
Pont de Galetas
Pont du Roc

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