Author: Ruth Jessop
Date of Trip: August 2006
I live in Les Basses Beaumettes, which is a hamlet of six and a half houses near the little village of St. Auban in S.E. France. Everyone has heard of the busy Cote d’Azur, but did you know that just an hour away is the quite and peaceful little known ‘Back Country’, the Arriere Pays, as it is called in French?
I live in the Arriere Pays and it is a great base for walking, canyoning, rock climbing, caving, cycling, paragliding, hang gliding, canoeing, rafting, aqua rando, horse riding and fishing. The world’s first ever via souterrata (underground via ferrata) is only 30 minutes away. The Gite Tonic in St. Auban will help you to do some of these activities; you can learn to paraglide with any of the 4 local flying schools. With 300 sunny days per year, sun bathing is also a popular option. Lac de Castillon is also nearby for those who like the dangerous sport of pedaloing! The famous Verdon Gorge is just 40 minutes down the road. The area is dotted with little time forgotten villages and within easy reach of Entrevaux and Colmar both designed by famous French architect Vauban. The nearby town of Castellane has a wonderful market on Saturday mornings (and a smaller one on Wednesday mornings) selling everything from children’s hand made wooden toys to foie gras.
Flights: Low cost airline Easy Jet, along with many other airlines fly regularly into Nice which is our nearest airport — 1.25 hours away. You do need to hire car to explore the area properly.
Foodwise, the village of St. Auban has an excellent restaurant called the Tracastel just off the village square. The campsite has an excellent little restaurant too. You can fish for your own trout in the village trout ponds or sit by the water’s edge and enjoy the superb cuisine in the Les Lacs restaurant. The village also has a small snack bar for hot dogs etc. at lunch time. There are lots of other restaurants in nearby villages which serve traditional French cuisine too. Do not rely on being able to pay by credit card.