The Chateau d'Esparron is a listed historic building and has been in the Castellane family ever since its foundation in the 13th century. Overlooking the old village and the lake on one side and the countryside on the other, the original building was added on to up until the 18th century and so is an interesting mix of architectural styles. The imposing defensive tower and the broad stone spiral staircase are particularly remarkable. In restoring the château we have been careful to preserve its original character and charm whilst making it comfortable and welcoming for our guests in a large self catering flat in the 18th century wing.
A shaded rose garden with garden furniture and a Ping-Pong table are at your disposal.
The castle overlooks the clear waters of the Lac d'Esparron, one of a string of lakes along the Verdon river, and very pleasant for swimming and boating.
Esparron-de-Verdon is situated in the Verdon Natural Park, and while the breathtaking Verdon Canyon should not be missed, the whole area is one of outstanding natural beauty.
The flat is equipped with wifi, television and DVD player, dishwasher and laundry machine. The rooms are high-ceilinged and airy and prettily decorated with original furniture, comfortable beds and characteristic provençal 'tommette' tiled floors. These, along with the thick walls, help to keep the rooms pleasantly cool at night.
The obvious place to start is with is the Lac d’Esparron, a stunning lake of clear, aqua-marine water only a stone’s throw away and not only an extremely pleasant place to swim and have picnics by, but full of possible water sports, from sailing, windsurfing and pedalloing for the energetic (including pedallos with slides, hugely popular with children) to the more sedate self-drive electric boats (motor boats are forbidden) or the guided tour of the lake in the bateau mouche tourist boat, the Perle du Verdon. The beautiful, cave-lined Basses Gorges du Verdon which meander from the lake up to the village of Quinson are not as dramatic as the main Verdon canyon, but extremely pretty nonetheless, and a tranquil place to spend a leisurely afternoon in a canoe or electric boat.
Canoes, pedallos and electric boats, as well as the guided lake cruise, are available from the Perle du Verdon landing, ten minutes’ walk from the house.
In the same area you can hire electric boats from Alize Electronic.
And a few meters along the shore the sailing club, club nautique, offers week-long sailing and windsurfing courses for children and adults as well as windsurf and canoe hire.
You can also find two tennis courts 10 minutes away in the lovely village of Quinson. Reservation at the Office du Tourisme.
There are several enjoyable marked walks in the area, the most popular being the sentier decouvert nature trail with an orientation table and superb views.
A twenty-minute drive away the wide, turquoise Lac de Sante Croix is also a lovely place for sailing and swimming, or keen sailors could opt for a day or more in an exceptional sailing boat down at the coast.
Horse riding and bicycles are a good way to explore the area.
Parapente, hot air balloons and glider enthusiasts are catered by Aero-Provence
On Tuesdays and Thursdays the damn is opened in the Verdon Canyon making it possible to do rafting kayaking hydro speed and canyoning.
The Verdon is also well-known as a magnet for rock-climbers. Some of the best places are in the Canyon at La Palud sur Verdon, in nearby Quinson, a fifteen minute drive from here and ideal for beginners as well as more advanced climbers, or even in Esparron de Verdon itself. Quinson is also home to the largest pre-history museum in Europe.
If climbing is not adventurous enough you can also try bungee-jumping with Latitude Challenge from the Pont de l’Artuby.
The Pierrever golf course is 45 minutes away.
Children enjoy the tree-climbing adventure park near Gréoux-les-Bains, and the go-kart track in Manosque.
In the spa town of Gréoux-les-Bains 20 minutes away, where ‘taking the water’ dates back to Roman times, an afternoon of spa treatments is a pleasant way to unwind.
The countryside as a whole around the Verdon is beautiful, but the most remarkable spot is of course the spectacular Verdon Canyon or Gorges du Verdon which most people like to visit at least once. The entrance to the Canyon is about 45 minutes’ drive from us, near the picturesque little town of Moustiers Sainte Marie, worth a visit not just for its famous porcelain but for its pretty streets and chapel perched in the crags above the village.
Esparron-de-Verdon is situated to the south of the Valensole plateau, the largest plateau in Europe, and famous for its lavender fields. From the plateau on clear days you can see over the purple of the lavender fields as far as the Sainte Victoire mountain by Aix and the Mont Ventoux and Montagne de Lure mountains to the west.
To the south of Esparron, Quinson is an especially pretty and well-preserved village, as well as being home to the fascinating musée de la préhistoire, good for a (happily rare) day of bad weather, though too interesting to save for a rainy day! Once over the bridge which crosses the Verdon to the south of Quinson you find yourself in the Haut Var; again there are many picturesque villages worth visiting such as Fox-Amphoux, Cotignac and Sillans-la-Cascade to name but a few.
There are many picturesque little towns and villages on or around the plateau, one of the most interesting being Riez, 25 minutes’ drive from Esparron. This little known market town boasts a Roman heritage at least as important as that of Vaison la Romaine, and archaeologists are constantly making new discoveries, some of which are on view to the public. The town is also home to some remarkable crumbling renaissance buildings tucked away in the maze of old streets, though one, the exceptional Hotel de Mazan, housing extraordinary plasterwork, or gypserie, has been impeccably restored and will open as a museum.
A great attraction in Riez is the Wednesday and Saturday morning market selling delicious local produce, soaps, fabrics, lavender products and so on, ideal for buying provisions for a picnic or simply sitting in a café and watching the world go by. You can taste creamy goat’s cheese from the Mistral farm, succulent strawberries from Allemagne-en-Provence, and Rafaela’s special jam from Albiosc and stock up with reasonably priced wine from Jardivin on the road towards Puimoisson. To the north-east of Puimoisson the tiny village of St Jurs (provençal for Georges) nestled in the hills overlooking the plateau is our favourite place for picnics and has views for miles over the whole plateau.
45 minutes away to the west is the largest local town, Manosque. Also known as the birthplace of writer Jean Giono, the town centre is pretty once you get past the multitude of supermarkets and DIY shops, and the Jean Giono Centre celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2012. The scenery beyond Manosque is lovely, too, with villages such as St Michel l’Observatoire and Banon, and if you continue westwards you will find yourself in the gently rolling countryside of the Luberon.
Beautiful Aix-en-Provence is only a good hour’s drive away, so it is quite possible to take a day trip there from Esparron, and we love to visit vibrant Marseille, slightly further afield at an hour and a half’s drive.
The village of Esparron de Verdon itself with pretty, winding streets and fountains is worth exploring, and the Ecomusée museum houses a fascinating collection of old tools, clothes and household implements.