Today we were picked up by the graveyard and started our geological education. Our first stop was at Ganagobie, a high point overlooking the Durance River. Here you could see the river terraces aged between 15,000 years and 3.5 Million years. The terraces on the tiver were caused by glacial unloading and tectonic uplift. Some of the terraces took a bit of imagination to see, though roads would hint at a terrace as they tend to follow them.
Next stop was down in the valley to the village of Les Mees where there were Les Penitents. A fine set of cliffs composed of continentally deposited conglomerates and sands. This is a classic example of Molasse deposits. They were produced in the main alpine mountains in the North and transported south by an early reiver Durance 5Ma years ago. The cliffs in parts look like columns, caused by erosion, giving cliff pudding forms which look like frocks.
The formations fueled the imagination of our ancestors. The points on the rocks were said to look like hoods of monks. The legend says they were punished for ogling young women. Their superior decided to petrify them. It is said when mercy is granted, time will resume and the monks will fall into dust. This appears to be happening because on December the 2nd a rock fall damaged several houses.
Back on the road, we stopped across the river from Sisteron where we could get up close to the Roche de la Baume. Here there were fabulous folds in the Cretaceous rocks. Rocks are magnets to climbers, and we were not disappointed. Fossils were found in the limestone.
Across the river was the Sisteron Citadel where we had a tour guide waiting for us. We learnt how this strategic point has always been fortified. It was also the only crossing point of the Durance for over 100 miles. Napoleon on his way to battle the British crossed here. Vauban a fort designer wanted to improve the fortifications in the 17th Century. He was to fort designs as Capability Brown was to gardens. Unfortunately, at the end of WW11, the Allies bombed the fortification, destroying the church.
We headed back, first to the campsite, later we were picked up for dinner and eventually deposited back after a lovely meal. It was now made clear to us that we would have to move the next day to a place nearer our dinner.