Sentier blanc-martelOctober 3 in France
An excursion that we'd heard described as the best hike in France, through the biggest gorge in Europe that itself is part of a wildlife sanctuary seemed like it could offer some sensual treats of the visual variety. Unfortunately the night before we discovered the shuttle bus was not running and the taxi chap was on holiday so instead we decided to fall back on our greatest natural skill... Getting drunk in a carpark.
A 7am wakeup sees a hungover jess giving the taxi one last try, fortunately we discover he's back to work today and the fare is Half what we were expecting and a with a little research I discover the tap by the carpark is 100% legitimate bona-fide drinking water. So in a hurried state we load our bags with pasta, several liters of spring water and enough chocolate to besiege a small town. We make our way to the pickup point and are soon on our way in a taxi packed with other hikers zooming along a winding road that at times seems to be hanging off cliffs that are atleast too big, possibly bigger. As we make our way down into the gorge to the river bed it's as if we've been dropped into jurassic Park on steroids. Sheer cliff faces, some reaching up over 500 meters are speckled with a diverse range of vines, trees, shrubs and other as yet unidentified flora. The crystal clear waters of the river at times seeming so tranquil with azure blue pools yet there are signs off its power everywhere though most of them involve looking up the cliff at the time line of erosion dating back tens of millions of years. Snakes, vultures and some sort of praying mantis all show up just to add to the confusion as to where in the world we might be. We covered the 12.7km trail in a little under 5 hours excluding a serious pasta session, the chocolate turned out to be surplus to requirements but thanked us for taking it on the journey. A 700m long dark tunnel, 253 stairs steeper than a telephone pole sticking out hundreds of meters up the face of the cliff were some of the adrenaline highlights but overall the winner has to be the detour down to mescla point where the Verdon river meets up with its pal the L'artuby. Hopes were pretty high but were met and exceeded approximately every 4-5 seconds.Read more