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The Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (department number 04) is located in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region. The department has an estimated population of 153,000 (approximate in 2005) and the city of Digne is the capital.
The landscape of the region changes as you reach the foothills of Alpes-de-Haute Provence. Villages huddle in the contours of alpine valleys, or perch precariously on rocky outcrops, with the steeply sloping streets leading to a central square. This is truffle and olive country with the altitude giving the olives a particularly fruity taste.
Why you should visit Alpes-de-Haute-Provence for your next holiday in France
If you are passionate about wide open spaces and natural resources, then Alpes-de-Haute-Provence would be the perfect destination for a holiday in France. Enjoy the delights of the national park of Mercantour and the Gorges of Verdon to name a couple of attractions.
The area enjoys long warm summers with temperatures reaching 35C and mild winters. From June onwards there is practically no rain.
What to see in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
Digne the capital of Alpes de Haute Provence is the only city in the long stretch of mountains between Orange and Turin. It has one thriving boulevard of cafés and touristic shops mixed with smart shoe-shops, chocolate shops and bookshops. The commune has been noted for being a principle center of the lavender trade.
Other interesting places worth visiting include:
- Moustiers Ste Marie - located in the mountains and known as one of the most beautiful villages of France. The local houses appear to have literally been sculpted out of the rocky mountain side. Weave your way in and out of the small pathways and visit the huge star that hangs between two mountain peaks on a heavy chain. In addition to the hiking trails and the sheer beauty of the town, there is also the Notredame de Beauvoir chapel and the Notre-Dame church.
- Le Train des Pignes - This is a private narrow gauge railway between Digne and Nice through the Alpes de Haute Provence.
How to get to Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
The region is easily accessible by air from most countries. The main international airports are Marseilles and Nice. Low cost airlines operate to both from the UK.
Calais to Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is approx 1040 km and will take about 10.5 hours. Roads along the Cote d'Azur do become very busy in the summer months.
High speed TGV trains take about 3 hours from Paris to Marseilles and also serve Toulon, Cannes and Nice.