The next stage of our trip will be walking the Camino de Santiago. But before all that starts, we’re taking some time out to visit some friends in the south of France.

First on the list is Siân who’s living in Nice for the summer. (Clever Siân.)


Siân lives close to the beach so we were in the sea less than an hour after we arrived.

The water was warm and we could see the art-deco hotels along the front while we were swimming.

The seafront at Nice from above

Later on, Siân took us on a tour of the city at night. Nice is beautiful in the daytime and it’s lovely at night too.

A street in Nice at night lit by a warm, yellow streetlight

These fountains, which light up in different colours, are particularly excellent.

Roz and Siân in surrounded by mist and different colours from a fountain in Nice

Gorges du Verdon

While we were in the area, we decided to go on a camping trip to the Gorges du Verdon national park.

The top of the Gorges du Verdon, seen from the sublime viewpoint

And after reading this article about wild swimming in France, we were determined to swim in the lakes.


We stayed in a campsite in a beautiful, little town called Castellane.

Two houses in Castellane in front of an old clocktower

A church at the top of a mountain overlooking Castellane

A street in Castellane, each house a different colour, with an artist's studio marked by a sign the shape of an easel

The Verdon river as a small stream running through Castellane

Good eh?

Lac de Castillon

After we were settled, we went to Lac de Castillon just north of Castellane.

The water was colder than the sea but not too bad and so clear we could see our feet when we were wading in.

Lac de Castillon

It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip so far.

Lac de Sainte-Croix

The next day we took a longer trip west to the Lac de Sainte-Croix.

We stopped at two beaches. The first one was as beautiful as the day before, but even quieter.

The next beach was where the river turns into a lake. It was packed with people on or in anything that floated, including pedalos, canoes and even inflatable sofas.

Beach on Lac de Sainte-Croix near to where it joins with the River Verdon

We had a great time swimming up the river and looking up at the mountains towering over us.


To get to any part of the Verdon Gorge, you have to drive around lots of hills and mountains. This means a lot of time driving on narrow roads, with a tall rock face on one side and a sheer drop on the other.

It’s really hard to drive, despite how easy Siân made it look, and another fun test of Roz’s vertigo. But on the bright side, the views were amazing.

Lac de Sainte-Croix from above

The River Verdon, running along the bottom of the Gorge du Verdon

On the way back, we were extremely grateful to end up behind a coach with a trailer at the back. It looked like it belonged to a Czech cycling team.

It acted like a snowplough so any cars coming towards us had to either make room or wait for us to pass.

Czech cycling team's bus, ahead of our car on the road alongside the Gorges du Verdon

When it pulled over to let cars overtake it, we pulled over too. And when it set off again, we cheerfully followed it like particularly guileless spies tailing a suspect.

Tom giving a thumbs up in the car, parked behind the cycling tram's bus


On the way back from the Gorges du Verdon, we stopped at a little town called Gourdon.

Courtyard in Gourdon

At over 1,000 metres up, Gourdon is really beautiful and it has some spectacular views.

View over the rooftops of Gourdon, showing the mountains ahead and the valley below

It’s also just north of Grasse, the unofficial capital of the French perfume industry so it has lots of little shops selling all sorts of scents and soaps, like this donkey milk bar of soap. Ewww. (Not ewe.)

A bar of donkey milk soap