Time: 6h. Up: 370m. Down: 600m.
Distance: 22km. Difficulty: easy.

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Stage 84: Riez (540m) to Gréoux-les-Bains (311m)

Click and drag on map above to see area around trail. Click here for large zoomable map.

Another pleasant day, more fields of lavender, rosemary, and thyme, another couple of ancient villages to visit along the way... what more needs to be said about the hike? So instead let's take a quick look at Roman influence on Provence.

To begin with, the name comes from the Latin provincia (meaning "province"), and it was one of the earlier provinces of Rome (formally established in 120BC). The Romans developed... like many others before and after... a special affection for the area, and it was long a favorite place for successful (i.e., not dead) legionaries to settle when they retired.

Most major towns and cities in Provence have Roman roots, as do many villages... in fact large parts of Provence were probably almost as thickly settled at the height of the Roman empire as they were in 1950. Roman ruins are ubiquitous and include some of the best preserved in the world (e.g., the Pont du Gard, the Theater at Orange, the Amphitheater at Arles...).

Consider also other remnants of Roman influence (such as that the local language (Provencau -- a dialect of Occitan) has many words that are closer to Italian than French, or that Provençal cuisine is in some ways closer to that of Italy than France, or that the climate, fauna, and flora are similar to that of Italy...) and it is easy to argue that, although no-one would mistake Provence for Tuscany, in some ways it still seems like a province of Rome today.

Today's hike is identical with the GR4 except for the last kilometer or so into Gréoux-les-Bains. From Riez head west, first along the main road, then a side road past the Chateau de Pontfrac, then along trails and farm roads to the village of St.-Martin-de-Brômes. From there continue on side-roads and trails into Gréoux-les-Bains, diverging from the GR4 to go the final stretch into town along the main road (saves 2km over the GR4, which turns south then east to go into town along the Verdon River).

Alternatives: if needs be you can probably call a taxi to take you the 6km from St.-Martin-de-Brômes to Gréoux-les-Bains.
Map: IGN-3342ET Plateau de Valensole.

The House to House blog... stage 84.

<A couple of representative photos from this stage will be added here after the hike>
In the meantime, click here to go to all of the H2H photos on Flickr.

GPS Track
<To be added during or after hike>

Room and Board Options
Lunch: picnic.
Dinner and overnight: there are many restaurants and places to stay in Gréoux-les-Bains (for a complete list, see here).

Getting There and Back
Riez: from Marseille, where there is a railway station, buses go twice a day to Riez, or you can take a taxi the 33km from Manosque where there is also a railway station (bus information here, taxi information here, and for train schedule information, see the SNCF).
Gréoux-les-Bains: buses go twice a day to Manosque, and three times a day to Marseille, or you can take a taxi the 17km to Manosque (bus information here, taxi information here).
ViaMichelin Road Map and Driving Directions: centered on Riez, centered on Gréoux-les-Bains.

Background Information and Links
Many and various...

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