Set between the coast and the Alps, this department boasts eleven ski resorts and with its rivers, lakes and reservoirs gives endless scope for watersports whether canoeing, white water rafting, boating or swimming. In the Ubaye valley, the charming town of Barcelonnette is a perfect spot for a light lunch en route to the coast and has a Mexican air about its villas, probably due to the fortunes the original dwellers brought back from Mexico.


Towns in Alpes de Haute Provence
Hotels in Alpes-de Haute-Provence


Colmars-les-Alps on River Verdon, still retains part of its 14th Century defences together with some of Vauban’s works dating from the end of the 17th Century. In the Valley of the Durance, the pretty medieval market town of Sisteron, northern gateway to Provence, still has five towers intact from its 14th century ramparts and its beautiful 14th century bell tower. The town is overlooked by the 13th century Citadelle with later work carried out by Vauban. To the south is Manosque, also a market town, and the spa town of Digne-Les–Bains with its campanile tower framed against the mountains. Napoleon’s Route back from exile in Elba in 1814 took him through Digne and Sisteron.


At Forcalquier, sheltered by the Lure Mountain to the north and the Luberon to the south, you can follow the Route de la Lavande and the Domitian Way, the ancient Roman trading route between Spain and Italy. At Simian La Rotonde, perched on a hill overlooking the lavender fields, is the dungeon of the ancient fort. The River Verdon bypasses the Mercantour National Park with its pretty alpine vegetation and Allos Lake, the largest high altitude lake in Europe. Others include those of Esparron, Sainte-Croix du Verdon and Castillon.


Castellane, the eastern gateway to the dramatic limestone gorges and aquamarine waters of the Verdon, is overlooked by The Chapelle Notre Dame du Roc towering above the village on a rocky outcrop. Once a week there is a lively Provençal market on the outskirts of the village. The villages of Gréouz-les Bains, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, with its remarkable Romanesque churches and rose coloured roof tiles, and Valensole are also well worth visiting. To the east,  Annot is set in the middle of a chestnut tree forest and nearby is the mediaeval village of Entrevaux with its ramparts and citadel, built by Vauban. Copyright: Sarah Francis

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Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France