Forcalquier, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence: tourism & sightseeing
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Forcalquier is a town located in Provence to the south of Sisteron and north-east of Aix-en-Provence. It is towards the eastern edge of the Luberon region, and surrounded by the attractive Provencal landscapes of lavender and olives.
With a history dating back to roman times when it stood on the trade route between Italy and Spain, the town that we see today developed around the slopes of a steep hill below a citadel that stood above the village from the 10th to the 16th centuries. Forcalquier was at its most prosperous in the early Middle Ages, at which time it was an influential capital of the Haute Provence region.
The principal car parks in Forcalquier are to the north of the town and very close to the main square, the Place du Bourguet. Ths is the best place to start your visit as it has several interesting monuments as well as the Forcalquier tourist office.
Forcalquier is an attractive small Provencal town, quiet but with several small highlights to discover in the town centre. Particular highlights in the main square include the cathedral which dominates the Place du Bourguet. Built in the 12th century the cathedral retains some of its original form but was largely transformed in the 17th century, including the addition of the top part of the belltower and the campanile.
On the lower part of the square is the 17th century Convent of the Visitandines - the baroque facade of the chapel is now the entrance to Forcalquier cinema, while the remainder of the building is the town hall. There are also various cafes in the Place du Bourguet, and the town market is held here.
From here you can continue into the old town behind the cathedral. There are various sights of interest in this part of Forcalquier such as fountains, chapels and houses with wrought iron balconies. You can see an ornately carved 16th century fountain in the Place Saint-Michel, and you can also see a statue and fountain of Joan of Arc in Place Jeanne d'Arc, to the south-west of the town centre.
Follow the narrow streets and then the cobbled path above Forcalquier and you will finally reach the citadel and the Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Provence at the top of the hill. Along the way you follow a series of Stations of the Cross. The chapel stands on the site of the citadel (itself destroyed in 1601) and is an an unusual octagonal 19th century design with statues standing on each corner of the octagon and a small domed roof.
Be sure to get this far, because it is the highest point in the town and has lovely views across the rooftops and countryside - the views are more of a reason to visit than the chapel perhaps.
If you now walk back to the town centre of Forcalquier, turn to the right to reach the Convent of the Cordeliers. Built in the 13th century the convent has cloisters which are free to visit - the entry is in the passage under the entrance to the main convent. The cloisters are nicely maintained with a contemporary fountain, and around the edges are various inset rooms and tombs.
Between the convent and the Place du Bourguet you pass the synagogue, a house in the roman style: although there is no real evidence it was used a synagogue, this house was in the heart of the Jewish community of Forcalquier in medieval times.
Market day is Monday in Forcalquier, which has one of the larger and livelier markets in the region, and is itself a popular attraction. The market is held in Place du Bourguet in the centre of the town.
There is also a small museum in Forcalquier with various items from the long and active history of the town.
You will see 'bories' (small stone huts) in the surrounding countryside, while another fascinating sight can be seen just north of the town (road towards Fontienne) at the rock formations called 'mourres'. Here millions of years of erosion has left curiously shaped rocks exposed on the surface, for example in the shape of giant mushrooms.
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Map of Forcalquier and places nearby
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Address: Forcalquier, Provence, 4300, France || GPS: latitude 43.96, longitude 5.78056
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Jardins du prieuré de Salagon: remarkable garden (3 km)
- Jardins du château de Sauvan: remarkable garden (3 km)
- Prieuré Notre Dame (Ganagobie): religious monument (11 km)
- Clos de Villeneuve: remarkable garden (21 km)
- Colorado Provencal: site of natural beauty (24 km)
- Barrage de Gréoux: site of natural beauty (26 km)
- Embouchure - Verdon: site of natural beauty (27 km)
- Verdon (rivière): site of natural beauty (27 km)
- Luberon: regional natural parc (29 km)
- Sisteron: recommended detour (29 km)
- Lac d'Esparron: site of natural beauty (29 km)
- Jardin à la française du Pavillon de Galon: remarkable garden (34 km)
Market days in Forcalquier, France
Regular market(s) are held in Forcalquier each Monday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Forcalquier (Francais)