After our stay in Heidelberg we drove down through Switzerland and spent the night at La Balme de Sillingy ( N 45.971242 E 6.031601 ), an aire by a lake near Annecy. The forecast for Northern Europe wasn’t great and we wanted to head south quickly, so we took the Autobahns and Swiss motorways to the French border. We had to pay €27 for a 10 day permit for the Swiss roads, valid for a year.
The next day we drove down to Chambery, just south of Aix les Bains, to stock up on paté, camembert , French bread and other essentials. After Grenoble we took the N85 (Route de Napoleon) through the Alps to Pont du Fosse.
The aire at Pont du Fosse (N 44.667226 E 6.234741) is a large woodland stopover, very good for dogs, and a short walk along a mountain river to the village.
We set off early (10.30am!) for the 80 mile trip down the south side of the Alps to Provence. Driving through Sisteron Nia spotted what looked like a nice aire for our lunch stop and did a sharp left.
Sisteron appeared to be the lunch stop for a Harley-Davidson convention and the beautiful beasts were everywhere.
This glider was suspended in the centre of Sisteron to advertise a gliding meet at the local airfield.
Moving on down to Provence we passed thousands of acres of orchards, trees all covered with netting. Against the sun? Or Frost? We know someone who’ll know.
The sun came out as we reached Provence.
We turned off towards Forcalquier and stopped at this deserted lake for a swim (well three of the party swam). We are in the Luberon, the mountainous bit of Provence made famous by Peter Mayle and ‘A Year in Provence’.
We stopped for the night at the aire in Saint Michel L’Observatoire ( N 43.910152 E 5.715058 ), named for the astronomical observatories established on the hills nearby in 1937.
There is a village close by with a small café, a boulangerie, one or two shops and a restaurant. And not another English tourist in sight.