Alps of Upper Provence Attractions Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
Top Tourist Attractions in Alps of Upper Provence
The alpine range which runs parallel to the Mediterranean Sea above the Côte d'Azur is a recreational magnet for those living in these coastal communities.
The township of Castellane lies in the southeast of Provence (54km/34mi southeast of Digne) on the Route Napoléon and on the River Verdon, which to the west of here flows through the well-known gorges. Castellane is, therefore, of touristic importance as the starting-point for a visit to the Grand Canyon du Verdon.On the northern edge of Castellane there are some remains of the old walls, the most important relic of which is the Tour Pentagonale (five-angled tower).At the western edge of the Old Town with its narrow streets rises the picturesque Tour de l'Horloge (14th C. clock-tower). Of interest here are the Fountaine aux Lions (Lion Fountain; partly Romanesque) and the Church of St-Victor, originally 12th C. but altered later on several occasions.
Over Castellane's town towers a mighty almost cubic block of rock, 184m/604ft high, on which stands the little pilgrimage chapel of Notre-Dame du Roc (1703). On the rock there was once a Celtic oppidum which later became Petra Castellana. In the 14th C. the settlement was moved into the valley and surrounded by a wall. To the rear of the parish church at the eastern end of the Old Town (not particularly important) a path leads to the rear of the limestone block and past the Stations of the Cross up to the top, from where there is a good view of Castellane and of the river as it flows into the gorge.
Mercantour Vallée des Merveilles
The attraction of the Mercantour has in some places caused problems, especially on Mont Bego in the Vallée des Merveilles. More than 100,000 figurative symbols, which the Bronze Age people carved in the rock here (1800-1500 B.C. are under severe threat. The messages to the gods repeat over and over again a few motifs: the celestial bull which brings thunder and lightning; the three-edged dagger, typical of the Bronze Age; the scythe and geometric figures. "Friends of nature" contribute their own messages or help themselves to souvenirs and so certain areas have been closed and educational trails laid out. In Tende there is a museum devoted to research and documentation of the history of the herdsmen and the Vallée des Merveilles from the Bronze Age to the present day.
Tende - Musee des Merveilles
Musée des Merveilles is an interpretation center with three main collections (prehistoric archaeology, ethnology and natural history).Examples of archaeological objects include weapons, tools, ceramics, and decorative items.
Address: Avenue du 16 Septembre 1947, F-06430 Tende, France
Opening hours: May 2 to Oct 15: 10am-6:30pm
Oct 16 to Apr 30: 10am-5pm
Oct 16 to Apr 30: 10am-5pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €4.55, Concession or reduced rate €2.30, Child 14 & under FREE
Useful tips: Free admission on the first Sunday of every month.
On a plateau which was already settled in prehistoric times, situated 350m/1,149ft above the valley of the Durance, stands Ganagobie Abbey (12th C) an example of Provençal Romanesque architecture. It is celebrated for its mosaics which were made between 1135 and 1170 and which are some of the rarest surviving works of art of this size and importance. The view from the plateau is equally fine. Ganagobie is reached from Manosque by taking N96 and D30 (27km/17mi) and from Digne along N85, D4 and N96 (35km/22mi).
Going east from the Ganagobie church along the "Allee des Moines" which is bordered by holm-oaks, we reach a rocky ledge from which - as if from a balcony - the view extends over the valley of the Durance and the Plateau of Valensole as far as the area of the pre-Alps around Digne; on clear days the Alps themselves (Pelvoux, Monte Viso) can even be seen.From the western edge (in the opposite direction from the church), past prehistoric standing stones, presumably of astronomical significance, there is a prospect over the Forcalquier Depression to the Montagne du Lubéron.
The buildings of the Ganagobie Abbey are thought to date to the 12th C. The abbey was at one time secularized and eventually came back to the possession of the Benedictines in 1881.
Mercantour - Gorges des Alpes-Maritimes
The Massif du Mercantour is situated in the extreme south of the Alpine chain, about 50km/31mi north of Nice as the crow flies. The Franco-Italian frontier runs over its principal crest. A considerable part of this mountainous region forms the Parc National du Mercantour, 200,000ha/494,200 acres, founded in 1979, which is continued on the Italian side by the Parco Nazionale della Argentera.
Baume Obscure Cave, St Vallier de Thiey
St-Vallier-de-Thiey is the location of the Baume Obscure Cave. The cave is located 60 meters underground and includes both wide galleries and very narrow tunnels. The cave path is almost 500 meters long, and is full of helictites, stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws and draperies, as well as numerous pools.
Digne lies in the heart of Provence, approximately on a line joining Grenoble and Cannes, in the foothills of the Alps. It is a spa, the headquarters of lavender growing and the center of the Hautes-Alpes nature reserve.
The 15th C. Cathedral of St-Jérôme has an elevated situation in the Old Town of Digne. In the Romanesque former Cathedral of Notre-Dame-du-Bourg (12th-13th C.) can be seen remains of wall-paintings of the 14th-16th C. as well as a Merovingian altar.
Lac de Serre-Ponçon
There is a rewarding 60km/37mi drive from Digne to the north (at first not on the direct road D900 but west of this on the D900A) through the Clue de Barles and the Clue de Verdaches, two romantic gorges; then over the Col de Maure (1,347m/4,421ft) to the Lac de Serre Ponçon. After leaving Le Vernet on the return journey take the D900 instead of the D900 A and cross the Col du Labouret (1,240m/4,070ft).
Place Forte, Mont-Dauphin, France
Place Forte is a hilltop fortress built in the 17th C, containing a small village inside. The walls surrounding the fort were constructed with reddish marble, making an impenetrable fortress.
Simiane Festival includes seven concerts of chamber music that run from late July to mid-August each year. The concerts are performed by artists from all over the world and take place in the Salle Romane of the Rotonde Castle.