An icy walk and dolomitic limestone outcrops!

It had been a cold and frosty start to the day so we had a slow morning in our cosy camper van.

Our pleasant spot outside Sainte-Eulalie-de-Cernon

We were in a very pleasant spot on the outskirts of the medieval village Sainte-Eulalie-de-Cernon in Southern France.

Sainte-Eulalie-de-Cernon from our campsite

The village was tiny and we had explored the fine buildings in this historic settlement the previous day so that morning we decided to explore a little bit of the surrounding countryside.

We walked first to the far side of the village, following a road which had a signpost with directions to “the station”.

We walked first to the far side of the village
The original village water supply

There was no evidence of a railway and we thought it unlikely that there would be a station for a population of less than 250 but our interest was piqued so we started to walk in the direction indicated by the sign.

Walking out of the village

We crossed a beautiful mill stream and met a very friendly marmalade cat that followed us for a while.

Looking at the mill stream
Our new friend who walked us out of the village
The bridge had an intriguing bend to it
The entrance to the village from the far side

It was surprisingly chilly but we were still amazed to come across an incredible wall of massive icicles sparkling in the sun at the roadside.

We couldn’t believe this incredible wall of icicles!
I don’t think I’ve ever seen them as large as this
The icicles were incredibly long!
So beautiful

Shortly after seeing the icicles, a narrow track tempted us off the road and we walked for about 20 minutes along this picturesque incline.

Walking along the ancient track

As we crunched along the silver frosted grass we both felt the ghosts of travellers past – this was obviously a very ancient thoroughfare along which many pilgrims and other travellers had made their way over the course of many hundreds of years.

The village from the top of the hill

The path ended when it came to the road which had curled round the hill in a series of bends. Crossing over, we continued along the track which was still white with frost even though it was two o’clock in the afternoon.

The second part of the track was still really frosty even though it was after 2pm
Crunchy frosty grass
Loved these frosted leaves
Amazing that they looked like this despite the warm sun and the time of day!

At the top of the hill we caught sight of a long viaduct which stretched across the valley below. Perhaps there was a railway?!

This sight was totally unexpected
Maybe there is a railway here?

As we reached the base of the viaduct we saw a notice for a “vélo-rail” which means “bike rail” in French. We wondered if the rails had been ripped up and a bike path built in its place but further along the road we discovered that our assumption was incorrect.

Lovely view from the viaduct

First we found a small 19th Century station building that had been faithfully restored to its former glory (so strange as it was literally in the middle of nowhere!)

The renovated station
Restored to its former glory
Complete with station clock

We then saw some strange contraptions that looked like flatbed rail trucks but had bike pedals fixed on top to propel them along the rails.

The vélo “trucks” in storage mode

There were also a couple of little passenger trains but like the vélo trucks, they were laid up due to Covid restrictions. What a wonderful view we would have had if we’d been able to cycle a vélo “truck” over the viaduct!

The cute little train

The following day we moved on to our next destination – a strange, isolated and tiny medieval village called Mourèze, built in the middle of a spectacular dolomitic limestone outcrop known as the Cirque de Mourèze.

The village of Mourèze, surrounded by spectacular limestone cliffs
The view from the other side of the village
The landscape was extraordinary

It was very misty (really foggy in parts!) when we first started our journey but luckily it soon cleared up.

Driving through the mist/fog
It felt a little creepy

Soon we were enjoying fine views of vineyards as far as the eye could see, interspersed with minute villages, some with very narrow streets that were somewhat nerve wracking to drive through in a camper van!

Soon the visibility was fine
There were some narrow streets through some of the villages

We were able to park just outside the village of Mourèze (population approximately 150) and once we were settled we set off to explore.

Not too far to Mourèze from here

The village consisted off a collection of mostly quite ancient cottages, a massive Church, a few Bed and Breakfast places and the ruins of an ancient castle.

The village consisted mostly of ancient cottages
A massive Church built on an outcrop
The ruins of an ancient castle

Walking through the village didn’t take long and soon we were on the other side on one of the many hiking trails in this area.

It didn’t take long to walk through the village
The gate to the unruly Church garden
There appeared to be quite a lot of artists and artisans in the village
View of incredible rock formations from the Church
On the edge of the village

As we walked, everywhere we looked we could see the amazing 160 million-year-old limestone giants, which had been eroded into strange shapes by wind and water over the millennia.

One of the amazing limestone giants
The views were spectacular

At first the trail resembled a dried up river bed but soon we were rock hopping our way up a more rugged path.

The trail looked like a dried up river bed at first

The landscape reminded us of the movie “Picnic at Hanging Rock” when the school girl Miranda and her friends disappear without trace!

The landscape reminded us of the movie “Picnic at Hanging Rock”
We turned back when the sun started to go down

We weren’t sure how long the the trail was or where it came out and as the sun was beginning to dip in the sky we decided to retrace our steps rather than risk getting lost in this mysterious landscape.

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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