Visit Hautes-Alpes, France
The Hautes-Alpes is a year round destination for the outdoor enthusiast, with the dramatic mountain scenery ideal for hiking, canoeing, cycling, skiing - and much more besides. Numerous small towns and villages are also dotted across the Hautes-Alpes scenery, waiting to be discovered and explored.
Selected places to visit in Hautes-Alpes
Highlights in the Hautes-Alpes, Provence
The Hautes-Alpes department of France is the most northern department in Provence, with Italy to the east and the Rhone-Alps region to the north.
This part of Provence is mountainous, with a great deal of spectacular mountain scenery. It is an all year round destination - although best known for the winter skiing opportunities, it also attracts many visitors for summer hiking, cycling and sightseeing. The department is also well known for contaning some of the great mountain climbs from the Tour de France.
Leisure and outdoors in Hautes-Alpes
Part of the the Ecrins National Parc is found to the north of the Hautes-Alpes department, and the Regional Park de Queyras is to the east, each with ample opportunities to enjoy the outdoors - all manner of outdoor sports are possible from gentle hiking to paragliding and climbing.
A particular scenic highlight in the Regional Park de Queyras is the Col d'Izoard, south-east of Briancon, with its arid almost moon-like rocky landscape, while other impressive cols (high mountain pases) that are very familiar from the Tour de France include the Col du Galibier and the Col de Vars.
Pretty much anywhere across the eastern part of the department you will spoiled for choice from the dramatic waterfalls and gorges (such as the Cascade de de la Pisse or the Valley of Valgaudemar), the mountain scenery and the far-reaching views. Although the west is less mountainous it still contains many places of great natural beauty
Hautes-Alpes towns and villages
While the Hautes-Alpes department doesn't have as many villages, towns and castles as some there are still many small villages and hamlets of interest that you will come across as you explore and various highlights to distract you from all the scenic spendour.
The only large town is Briancon which is a fascinating town with a huge Vauban-designed fort to the east of the Hautes-Alpes. However there are various small towns and village dotted around that wll be of interest, including the two classified 'most beautiful villages in France' of La Grave (take the awesome cable car route to reach the glacier at Meije) and Saint-Veran (at 2000 metres above sea-level, one of the highest villages in Europe). Nevache is an attractive village in the fabulous Clarée valley, one of France's 33 'Grand Sites de France'. Le Monetier is an attractive village in the Serre Chevalier ski area.
Gap is situated in the centre of the department, while to the west there are some attractive small towns and villages such as Serres, Laragne-Monteglin with the Gorges de la Meouge, Lagrand, Orpierre, Ventavon and Saint-Andre-de-Rosans.
Historic sites and monuments
To the east of the department see the silver mines of L'Argentiere-la-Bessee or the Fournel Valley. Also visit the Vauban fortification at Place Forte de Mont-Dauphin (a listed national monument) and the fortified city of Briancon (both are UNESCO listed heritage sites).
Several castles of note are to be found, the most important being those at Tallard (south-west), Montmaur (west) and the Chateau de Lesdiguieres.
See also the dramatic setting for Fort Queyras in the mountains to the south-east of the Hautes-Alpes.
Ski resorts in Hautes-Alpes
During the winter it is the large ski region in the north-east of the Hautes-Alpes at Serre Chevalier near Briancon that attract the most interest, and offers very impressive surroundings for winter skiing, although there are also a myriad of medim and small resorts and villages offering skiing on a smaller scale.
See a list of all Hautes-Alpes communes
Map of Hautes-Alpes
French version: Hautes-Alpes (Francais)