Since the whole family ( 22 of us) planned a mountain hike for mid-morning, it behooved me to do my bike ride earlier. I set out in the dark on the bike lane along the coast road before sunrise. The going was easy and for a brief moment I contemplated staying at sea level.

The appeal of the rise couldn’t be denied and soon, once again, I set my wheels uphill along the deep ridge that climb slowly to the foothills of the high mountains. High, they really are. Some of the peaks nearby reach close to ten thousand feet, and it is easy to venture on roads that quickly wind their ways to great altitude. Like yesterday, I saw many people already at work. Laborers, here, do take advantage of the early morning cooler temperatures to do as much work as they can. Cyclists? I saw none. I was headed to a place called ” Plateau du Caillou” a location I imagined to have some respite in the slope. Well, the name may have a “plat” to it but I couldn’t find any flat section in it, and the road relentlessly continue to ascend. I could see the continuation of the switchbacks above me, and with the time passing and the heat rising rapidly, I decided it was time to turn my wheels downhill for the welcome daring descent: a 13 miles plunge back home to Saint Gilles les Bains. At the house, a quick plunge in our pool and I was ready for the start of our hike to canyon of la “Roche Vert Bouteille.”

We got there in a caravane of cars along a winding, torturous road that I was quite glad I did not have to climb on my bike. At the lieu dit: Dos D’Âne, ( donkey back) we parked the cars and the 22 of us started our hike along the wild nature trail.

As challenging as the terrain was, the amazing vista above the deep canyon was beyond anything I imagined. I mean. Unlike the grand canyon, this one was covered in lush , green vegetation that made me think of “gorilla in the mist” landscape. Deep below the trail, fed by dozen cascade, a river flowed to the sea. Facing us all around volcanic rise reach to the clouds in toothlike peaks as Sharp as knife blades. Amazing.

As good as IPhone cameras are, they failed to give photos capable render justice to the beauty and depth of the surroundings.

At the lookout point, following the obligatory group pictures ( I don’t have them), we split to allow the children and their parents to escort down those who were tired. A few of us pressed on to the tippy top where the rock face, indeed has the shape of a bottle. ( no photos there of the rock-for some odd reasons).

From there we began the challenging downhill along the sharper edge of the mountain. That trail would lead us back to the starting point where we rejoined the rest of the group.

Again the winding road to the valley floor and to well deserved buffet at an oasis like restaurant in the shade.

We came home, eyes still filled with the splendors of the sights, tired yet joyful and satisfied by the entire adventure that I am glad to share.

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