Entering France from Italy we were struck by the difference in roads and traffic. The roads in France are well maintained, the traffic behaves itself and there is almost no overtaking on the bends!! We wanted to spend some more time in the mountains away from the coast and discovered an incredible area in the Haute Alpes of Provence. At first the scenery was mediterranean, with tumbling vegetation dropping down into river gorges. Soon it began to turn more mountainous, with great purple lumps of rock towering above us, occasionally dotted with autumnal coloured trees. The alpine blue rivers clash dramatically with the purple rockbeds. We spent the night in a sweet little riverside town, St Saveur-sur-Tinee at the local picnic area.
The next day we drove into the Parc National du Mercantour. Once again dogs are prohibited (even on leads) so Odie was resigned to yapping his head off in the car. The route we chose to Barcelonnette took us through what they claim is Europe’s highest pass, the Col de la Bonette at 1824m. I cannot confirm the accuracy of this (I would have thought Grossglockner was higher) but the beauty of the area is in no such doubt. Snow-sprinkled mountains surrounded us as eagles soared above and the road meandered off into infinity over a series of hair pin bends. We continued down the other side into Barcelonnette, a French skiing area where we stopped for the night amongst fallen oak leaves.