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Les Basses Beaumettes, is an ideal location for exploring clues, canyons, and gorges, whether on foot, by car, by bicycle, by motor bike, or from deep inside the gorge itself whilst canyoning. We are surrounded by stunning folded lime stone landscapes which have been pushed up and then cut through by rivers (clues) and deep ravines which have been sliced through by rivers (gorges). Some of our most stunning local clues and canyons are:
Clue de St Auban (4 mins west)
The Clue de St Auban is the spectacular gorge which links St Auban and Brianconnet and has the Esteron River flowing through it. The D2211 snakes its way through the clue on a ledge and passes a chapel cut out in the rock where a service is held every September.
Photos of the Clue de St Auban by Gerard Therin, photo1, photo 2, photo 3, photo 4.
Canyoning down the Clue de St Auban is not for the faint hearted therefore we strongly recommend that you do it as part of an organised group with the Gite Tonic.
The Clue de St Auban is very popular with cyclists, so we have included some cycling circuits which go through the Clue on our cycling page.
In 1999 Norman D Ford toured the Southern French Alps. He cycled from Briancon to St-Remy de Provence and passed through St Auban. Below is what he had to say about the Clue de St Auban:
The narrow and winding, D-2211-A roller-coasters through forests and mountains to finally climb up to the clue St.Auban. A clue in Provence is a road hacked out of a sheer cliff with a rock roof overhead. Clues are usually in deep, narrow ravines cut by a swiftly flowing river and the scenery is awesome. Of the many clues in Provence, St. Auban is undoubtedly one of the deepest, steepest and most spectacular. For two kilometers, the narrow one-lane road contours up the sheer ravine wall with a roof of rock overhead much of the way. Two 45-meter tunnels en route are easily traversed.
Francis and Sheila have also put photos of their cycle through the Clue de St Auban on a website.
One of the best ways to see the Clue de St Auban is on foot. You can either simply walk on the road down through the Clue de St Auban or walk up and over the Petit Tracastel ridge. This walk takes you up onto the ridge above St Auban and the Clue then brings you out on the other side of the Clue, then you walk back up through the Clue on a narrow road back to St Auban. A full description of the walk is given in the walking folder in our apartment.
Gorge de Daluis (40 mins north west)
Gorge de Daluis links Entrevaux and Guillaume and has the Var River flowing through it. It is a stunning gorge formed from red schist 300m deep, with unusual rock formations like the Tete de Femme. A full profile of this wonderful Gorge including photos can be seen on the Provence Beyond website.
You can canoe, raft, canyon down the river by contacting Eau Vive Evasion at Guillames tel. 04 92 83 38 09
You can bungee jump from the Pont de la Mariee, the bridge in the photo on the right, (80m). Tel 04 93 73 50 29
Gorge de Daluis is also a cyclists paradise rising up to Col de Cayolle (2327m) and Col de Champs (2095m) at the northern end.
There is also excellent walking in this area, details of which can be found in our walking guide in the gite. Guillaumes at the north end of the gorge, being the starting point for walking up Tete de la Colombiere (2050m) and Dome de Barrot (2136m). A walk up to the abandoned village of Amen, which was an active copper-mining village in the 19th century, is well worth the effort. The copper ore was transported by mule to the factory at Léouvé, south across the Col de Roua, which you can also explore by foot.
For horse riding and donkey treks. Tel 04 93 05 56 01
For fishing. Tel 04 93 05 50 10
Gorge du Cians (1 hour north east)
Gorge du Cian is to the East of Gorge de Daluis and a circuit linking both gorges makes an excellent day out, passing through tunnels, past ravines and waterfalls cut into the stunning red rock is a photographers dream come true. More photos by Gerard Therin can be found here, photo1, photo 2, photo 3, photo 4. It is well worth stopping at the Grand Clue to have a look at where the old road used to go and thankfully has now been superceeded by a series of modern tunnels to protect cars from falling debris and large boulders.
As with the gorges described above, canyoning is possible in Gorge du Cians, in particular in Clue du Raton and Vallon de Challandre which are the two main canyons in the Gorge.
The area is quite heavily wooded and needless to say the forestry tracks are excellent for mountain biking.
The area is equally a playground for walkers with the GR paths (sentiers de Grande Randonnée) making some impressive summits accessible: Le Mont Raton (2 066 mètres), Les Cluots (2 105 mètres), La Tête du Giarons (2 025 mètres) and La Cime de Courbaissa (2 065 mètres).
Clue d’Aiglun (40 mins east)
This Clue is very scenic to drive through, with tunnels and at one point the road follows a narrow ledge cut into the rock, it should not be attempted by novice drivers and those who don't know how to reverse! The bridge over the Esteron in the middle is well worth stopping to have a look over. The perched village of Aiglun has that forgotten in time feeling, stop and have a look round. The village restaurant has a balcony overlooking the gorge, an excellent place to sit and watch thunder storms striking the opposite hillside.
This spectacular Clue with its towering walls of rock is particularly famous for canyoning and rock climbing.
If you are interested in seeing the Clue from the bottom of the canyon then you may find the following canyoning site useful: Descente canyon.
The Clue d'Aiglun is also the starting point for some excellent walking. Montagne de Charamel and Mt St Martin (1257m) both provide excellent views into the Clue, and a full description of both are given in the walking guide in our gite.
Gorge du Loup (40 mins south east)
The Gorge du Loup is a stunning gorge which starts high in the hills above Greolieres and continues down to Pont-du-Loup, from where you can look up and see Gourdon perched on the cliffs high up above. Part way down the valley is the Cascade de Courmes which is well worth stopping to look at.
The Gorge du Loup can be visited in a circuit by turning right after Greolieres to Cipieres, then onto Gourdon. The viewpoint at the far end of Gourdon village gives spectacular views down into the Gorge. From Gourdon continue down to Chateauneuf, then left to Pont du Loup and back up the gorge, stopping at the Cascade de Courmes. A visit to the Florian sweet factory at Pont du Loup is a must for all Charlie and the Chocolate Factory addicts.
For further details about the Gorge du Loup have a look at the Provence Beyond website.
Gorges du Verdon (40 mins west)
The Gorges du Verdon are on a separate page here.