Saturday, 15 July 2017


Our last week of the holidays was spent at a wonderful campsite at Volonne, just south of Sisteron in the Alpes de Haute Provence recommended by a charming German couple we had met at Annecy.  After a morning's drive through the alps round hairpin bends and cloudy peaks we arrived in hot sunshine to find this friendly place with 2 swimming pools and a restaurant on the site.  We chose a pitch and settled in for a late lunch and a siesta. 

The pitches had trees for shade and they were essential as the temperatures rose to 36 degrees during our stay.  We moved our table and chairs around the plot during the day so we could stay in the shade of this lovely tree with very interesting bark.

We swam in the pool every morning when it wasn't too busy and then sat on the restaurant terrace for a cool beer before lunch which we sometimes took a there as well.  This is the view of a typical proven├žale house we could see across the pools to the hillside opposite from our table under a beautiful pine tree.

As we always sat at the same table I had a good view of the pine tree and decided to draw the bark over a couple of days.  We soon got to know the waiters and waitress who came from different parts of the world: Vietnam, Romania and Denmark and they looked after us very well.  In fact the whole team on the camp were so friendly and keen to make our stay as pleasant as possible that we decided to stay for a week which even gave us an unexpected day for free!

This is the view from our front window of the river Durance which has been dammed to make a lake to produce hydro-electricity.  All the camping plots were together at one end of the site which had many chalets to rent as well.  We reckon we got the best value for money paying only 17 euros a night which included the use of the pools and the very well maintained toilet and shower facilities.

We left Volonne after a lovely but very hot week to go to Vaison la Romaine which we knew also had a pool.  I had always wanted to re-visit Roussillon to do some sketching on the ochre footpath so we stopped there on the way.  I managed to do a couple of quick pen drawings but it was far too hot to stand in the sun and draw as well as try to see around all the people also enjoying this magnificent place. 

I took photos to back up the sketches and when we got home I got out the pigments I had bought on the first visit and mixed up some gum Arabic to make watercolours.  So these sketches are painted with the actual pigments you can see in the ground!
We arrived at Vaison at 2 pm only to find the campsite full so we ate a quick sandwich in the nearby supermarket car park while we decided what to do next.  As it was so very hot we decided it was time to go home to our comfortable Brittany temperatures, about 10 degrees less than in the south of France.

We did the return journey in 2 stages of about 650 kilometres with our first stop at Saint Amand Montrond  which is in the geographical centre of the country.  We often use it as a stopover as there is a handy camping car park only 5 minutes from the motorway and then in the morning we set off early to go to our favourite vineyard at Amboise to top up on wine before the final leg home.
The orchid survived the journey too although the flowers are smaller and paler than usual.
We had a brilliant holiday, visiting many new places and finding excellent cycling paths where we could cycle happily without the fear of traffic or too many steep hills!  Looking back through my sketchbook I can see the drawings consist mainly of trees and water which tells me that nature is definitely my favourite subject for drawing as well as sewing.
Next time I'll share some of my needle paintings with you so don't forget to come and visit soon!