Once we descended back to the parking lot, we turned our attention to the long steep flight of stairs that led down to the shore of the Verdon River. We did not realize the significance at the time, but we were embarking on a small part of the famous Sentier Martel Trail, a 15km trail that follows the Verdon River from the Chalet de la Maline (at the southern end of the D23 loop) up to Point Sublime, which turned out to be about 2km north of where we were. It was a bit daunting to traverse so close to the river, given all the DANGER signs warning of flash floods that could cause the waters to rise dramatically. But since there was a clearly marked path, we decided to explore a bit and walked down to the riverbed. Along the way, we spotted a group of people who were getting instructions on how to body surf down the river, which seemed to involve jumping in while wearing a wet suit, lying flat and letting the currents do the rest.
originally built for a hydro electric project that was never completed.
Continuing our originally planned journey along the northern D952 highway, we finally came across the scenic D23 loop. As warned, it was even more treacherous than the other highways, since the roads were narrower and almost entirely without guardrails. We spotted multiple cyclists riding cliff-side down these roads and thought they were very brave and a bit crazy! There were multiple belvederes or lookout points where we could park our car to take photos, and the views were spectacular. After a while though, I developed the same feeling I had when driving around the Grand Canyon–no matter how gorgeous the scenery, after stopping enough times, you realize that you are continuously looking down at the same hole, just from different angles.
Rope Jump" and a series of ropes suspended from the bridge to the railings on the other side of the gorge. There were a couple of teenagers sitting in camping chairs next to the ropes. It was not clear whether these were the intended jumpers, or whether they were charging a fee for tourists to try the jump. Regardless of which it was, there was no one jumping, although multiple tourists including ourselves checked out the ropes and looked down the gorge in horror.
Comps-Sur-Artuby where we encountered a compound containing a large number of tanks. Neither the "Do Not Enter" warning signs nor the barbed wire could keep Rich from getting a better look at the edge of the fence. It's lucky he has not be arrested as a spy (or dumb tourist).