Visit Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
The Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is the less explored side to Provence, and a scenic highlight with France's own Grand Canyon (the Gorges du Verdon) in the heart of the department, the luberon hill villages to the south-west and the ruggedly beautiful Mercantour National Parc to the north-east of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.
Selected places to visit in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
An introduction to the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
The Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department of France is situated in the central-northern part of Provence.
Perhaps the best known 'attraction' or natural highlight in the region is the Gorges du Verdon - the Gorges du Verdon is a dramatic gorge (accessed by way of Castellane) that cuts through the centre of the region, and in addition to the stunning scenery it is also good place a perfect place to discover the wildlife of the region.
The scenery of course is the real highlight of this part of Provence - and outdoor sports such as hiking or cycling are the best way to enjoy it if possible. Some of the other outdoor sports practiced here include rockclimbing, rafting, horse-riding and paragliding. As well as the particular towns and villages mentioned below there are numerous smaller villages, often medieval villages in very scenic hilltop settings or surrounded by mountains or fields of lavender, to discover as you travel around the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.
National and Natural Regional Parks
There are parts of three different Parks within the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department:
Verdon Regional Natural Park - to the south and around Moustiers, Castellane and the Gorges du Verdon. Visit Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon for the views across the very large Lac de Sainte-Croix, a popular leisure lake near the gorges.
Luberon Regional Natural Park - to the south-west of the department around Manosque. Although many of the most 'famous' Luberon villages fall within the Vaucluse department, it also extends into the south-western part of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. A few of the villages to visit here include Dauphin, Montfuron, Opedette, Pierrevert, Reillanne, Saint-Maime, Saint-Michel-de-l'Observatoire, Saint Tulle and Volx.
Other places to visit in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
South-east: in the south-east, the village of Annot, with strangely placed rocks all over the village, and the nearby village at Entrevaux are to the north-east of the Gorges-du-Verdon, and the classified beautiful village of Moustiers is to the west of the gorges. The cluster of villages including Braux, Méailles and Le Fugeret, all just north of annot, are also suggested.
Central: see the thermal spa town at Digne-les-Bains and the nearby village at Thoard
North-west: the citadel town of Sisteron, also the village at nearby Entrepierres.
South-west: towards the south-west of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, visit the rotunda and village surrounded by lavender fields at Simiane-la-Rotonde, the impressive gorge at Oppedette; the important town of Manosque (south-west) and the nearby village at Valensole; the templar castle at Greoux-les-Bains; the hilltop village at Forcalquier also the views from the nearby village of Lurs to the east, and the citadel at Mane to the south; and also the village and Roman temple remains at Riez.
See also the villages listed under 'Luberon Regional Parc' above.
Villages in bloom and towns and villages of character
There are a total of twelve villages that are listed as 'villages of character' in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department. These villages are considered to be of particular interest both for their natural setting and for their local architecture, that also focus on providing facilities for tourism. Those listed are: Annot, Castellane, Colmars-les-Alpes, Cruis, Dauphin, Entrevaux, Lurs, Mane, Riez, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Seyne-les-Alpes and Simiane-la-Rotonde.
Four villages and towns have qualified for 3* in the 'ville fleuri' listings: Digne-les-Bains, Larche, Moustiers and Sisteron.
See a list of all Alpes-de-Haute-Provence communes
Map of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
French version: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (Francais)