Several of the local towns and villages bear evidence that man has lived in Provence through the ages. These certainly deserve a visit: Sisteron in the north, with its citadel built by Vauban, Digne-les-Bains, a spa town since Roman times, Manosque with its impressive ramparts, and of course Forcalquier on the Via Domitia.
Some lesser-known villages are also worth a detour: Lurs, Simiane-la-Rotonde, Banon, Cruis, Dauphin and Mane, are all classified as "village de caractère" or "cité de caractère" thanks to their rich heritage.
Haute-Provence offers an abundance of culture. There are so many places to visit and explore: Valsaintes abbey with its beautiful rose garden, intimidating Ganogobie priory, the Astronomy centre at Saint-Michel l’Observatoire where you can observe Europe's darkest sky and the Ammonite slab at Digne-les-Bains, where you can view 1,500 fossils up to 200 million years old. Haute-Provence also has a strong literary tradition, with Jean Giono, Paul Arène, Maria Borrely and Pierre Magnan. In Manosque Jean Giono's house is open to visitors.
Flavours and fragrances
Good news – there's some excellent food to be had in Haute-Provence! The area is a gourmet paradise packed with delicious food and excellent restaurants: truffles, saffron, Banon cheese, Sisteron lamb, honey, wines, einkorn wheat and more. The majority of these products are organic or produced using reasoned agriculture. Haute-Provence is a land of fragrances. The history of Salagon is intricately linked with this. The area's best-known fragrant plant is of course lavender. Local lavender production has led the area to develop genuine expertise in essential oils, aromatherapy and the manufacture of cosmetics.
Haute-Provence offers numerous outdoor activities. There are so many ways to see the countryside: on a bicycle, on foot, on horseback or from the air. Lure Mountain is perhaps one of the best places to begin. Activities are available all year round, as they are at the completely unspoilt Mourres site.