Explore 6 ancient villages in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
Provence is a must for your travelwishlist! The region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur comprises of 6 departments, i.e. Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhone, Haute-Alpes, Var and Vaucluse.In our first blog we visit Barcelonnette, Castellane, Digne-les-Bains, Forcalquier, Manosque and Sisteron in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence:
Barcelonnette is a small town situated in the Ubaye Valley, in the mountains to the north-east of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department. Most of the buildings date from the 17th century onwards because most of the town was destroyed by a terrible fire in 1628. Mercantour National Park is situated between Barcelonnette and Nice and is one of the most biodiverse regions of France - nearly half of all 4 200 species growing in France can be discovered here!
Castellane is an ancient city located upstream of the Gorges du Verdon on the banks of the Verdon river. The Roc, or the Roc of Notre-Dame, overlooks the city from 184 m (604 ft) above. It has been occupied since the High Middle Ages and is a registered historical site. It can be accessed from the centre of town behind the old Church of St. Andrew. The walk takes about 30 minutes and offers magnificent views. 34 Rue Nationale is the house where Napoleon stopped for lunch on 3 March 1815 on his return from Elba.
Digne-Les-Bains (Digne) is the administrative centre of Alpes-de Haute-Provence and the lavender capital. It is also a stop on the Route Napoleon and famous for its spas and resorts. Visit in August and experience the Corso de la Lavande - a 5 day festival celebrating lavender.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, or simply Moustiers, is a commune located less than 50 km south of Digne and deserves serious consideration for your travelwishlist. In 2017, it had a population of 709 and it is considered to be one of the "most beautiful villages of France”.
Forcalquier is a major attraction situated between the mountains of Lure and Luberon. Explore the narrow streets of its ancient centre and the magnificent views from the citadel, location of the former castle of the Counts of Forcalquier. The region was occupied by the Celts, colonised by the Romans and its inhabitants took refuge on the hills during the Middle Ages due to the conflicts.
Manosque is the largest town and commune in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department. in southeastern France. It is a typical old Provencal town located at the far eastern end of the Luberon near the Durance river. Manosque’s most famous son, Olivier Baussan, founded the highly successful cosmetics company, L’Occitane, in 1976. Counting more than 2000 shops worldwide, L’Occitane’s products are inspired by the Provençal landscape and the local plants found in the hills and fields around Manosque. Taking a cue from another of the region’s star products, the olive, Baussan later founded the premium olive oil company: Oliviers & Co.
Stunning Sisteron is located between 2 steep cliffs along the banks of the Durance River. The main attraction is the citadel, dating from the 12th to the 19th century. It has been perfectly restored after suffering extensive damage during World War 2. Experience the magnificent views from the citadel’s terrace and visit the medieval village with its narrow streets and alleys, beautiful old houses, fountains, stairways, cafés and boutiques.
FOOD OF PROVENCE: GLORIOUS GARLIC!
Garlic is a native plant of Central Asia and apparently we must thank the Romans for the proliferation and celebration of garlic in France. Roman soldiers were issued with garlic to take on campaign; the belief being that garlic inspired and gave courage. The generals had garlic planted for the armies and the banks of garlic plants prospered. Few garlic-based dishes are as French as aioli, essentially a simple garlic mayonnaise. Start by crushing a half-dozen cloves in a mortar with salt and reducing them to a fine and juicy puree. Next blend in an egg yolk and a touch of mustard then, drop by drop, enough oil to make a thick sauce - a spicy accompaniment that few can resist.
HOW TO GET AROUND: Rent a car to truly experience the magnificent countryside, all the villages on your travelwishlist and much more
WHEN TO GO: The best times to visit Provence are from March to May and September through November, when the weather and the crowds are moderate. Early July is however the best time to visit lavender fields in Provence and lavender fields start to be harvested on the Valensole plateau in mid-July.
LANGUAGE: French - learn at least some basics and you will discover that the French are not rude as stereotyped by many!
SLEEP AT LA CAMPAGNE ST LAZARE
Provence, Luberon and Forcalquier … the ideal setting to help you feel relaxed during your stay. Take time to reconnect with yourself and the amazing surroundings at La Campagne St Lazare. For your convenience, you can choose between a half board option with à la carte meals or a self-catering option.
SLEEP AT MAS DE FONTEFIGUIERES
Mas de Fontefiguieres is a holistic place to stay in nature to recharge your batteries, learn to take care of yourself, and reconnect with your true well-being. Their concept is global, it covers both: gentle bodily practices (3 x per day: in the morning: bodily awakening and postural work, and relaxation at the end of the day), vegetarian food with low glyceric indexes, acid-base balances, chrono nutrition and beneficial food associations respected, all organic, local and seasonal, and eco-responsible accommodation.
PLAY AT HAUTE PROVENCE OUTDOOR
Located in the Alpes de Haute Provence in the heart of the Verdon, the Haute Provence Outdoor company specializes in outdoor activities. Their young, dynamic and very welcoming team offers quality services in the heart of Provence and its most beautiful landscapes. Activities offered by Haute Provence Outdoor: Deval'Bike, Aquatrekking,
Rafting, Canoeing, Stand up paddling & Canyoning.