• At a glance
  • Locality & Walks
  • Accommodation & Meals
  • Travel options
  • Photos
At a Glance

Your Holiday at a Glance


 
Independent Walking Holiday
  • Travels Through Alpine Provence: Part 2, Haute Provence Geological Reserve

Dates for 2018
  • Everyday during May, June, September and October (subject to availability)
Price for 6 nights
  • £640 (single supplement £155)
  • €705 (single supplement €170)
Grade
  • moderate challenging independent walking holiday in France
Profile
  • 6 nights, 5 days independent walking moving between guest houses (also available as a 5 night holiday)
Highlights
  • The first part of a unique trek crossing the mountains of Alpine Provence from near the Rhone Valley to Grasse in the foothills above Cannes
  • Crossing part of the Haute Provence Geological Reserve with lots of interesting formations and fossils.
  • Unspoilt mountain scenery and alpine pastures in the pre-alps between Sisteron and Dignes les Bains
  • Wonderful panoramic views from summits perched above vertical cliffs
  • Great horseshoe trail around the summit of les Monges at 2115m.
  • Discover the citadel of Sisteron above the Durance River and opposite the rock fins of Rocher de Baumes
  • Possibility to combine this walking holiday with part 1 across the Baronnies Regional Park
Accommodation and Meals
  • Comfortable rooms in small guest houses and family run hotels. A mix of styles with some in historic properties, some with swimming pools in rural peaceful locations
What's included
  1. 6 nights accommodation in small rural guest houses and hotels
  2. All breakfasts, 4 lunches on walking days and 4 evening meals
  3. Full walking notes and maps (see more information)
  4. Transport of luggage between guest houses
  5. Read more information about our independent walking & trekking holidays
What's not included

 

  1. Travel to Sisteron, France and return from Dignes les Bains
  2. 2 lunches as well as on the day of arrival and departure, 2 evening meals, drinks and snacks
  3. Any excursions or entrance fees
  4. Travel insurance

 

  1. Return to full list of self-guided walking holidays First leg of our Alpine Provence traverse in the Baronnies Regional Park

    Return to Home Page

Walks

Alpine Provence: Part 2, Haute Provence Geological Reserve

This independent walking holiday is the second leg of a unique long distance trek which crosses Alpine Provence from Nyons near the Rhone Valley to Grasse in the foothills above Cannes on the Mediterranean coast. This spectacular trip takes you through some wonderful mountain scenery where the Alps meet Provence. The second part of this journey through Provence crosses the pre-alps between Sisteron and Dignes les Bains. The mountains here climb higher than in the Baronnies and alpine pastures dominate the wild summits with forests of oak and lavender below. May and June are good times to undertake the walk for the array of wild flowers on the mountains.

The area forms part of the Haute Provence Geological Reserve, which is the biggest geopark in Europe and is very much an open-air museum. On some days you'll be able to take waymarked discovery trails to visit sites of interest such as rock shelves covered in huge ammonites and hills of black marl rocks. Journey through 300 million years of geological time! In addition, at the spa town of Dignes les Bains you can walk in the town park which forms an open-air museum with works of art and fossil collections on display

This walking holiday is ideal for those walkers who are looking for a unique challenge as part of a long distance, off the beaten track walk, as well as those interested in a one-off walking tour in the mountains of Provence to discover the fabulous panoramas and the geological gems of the region. This leg of the journey starts in Sisteron, a wonderful citadel perched above the Durance and opposite the dramatic rock fins of Rocher de Baumes. At the end of the walking holiday you can take the famous Train des Pignes from Dignes les Bains to Nice.

If you wish to combine this holiday with part 1 of the trail in the Baronnies, then from Laragne Monteglin take the short train journey to Sisteron in the morning and explore the town and citadel before setting out on your trek the next day.

Walking Profile

The walking on this self-guided holiday is graded level 3. The walking days average about 800m of ascent & 17km each day. The days are slightly shorter than in the Baronnies on part 1. On some days it’s possible to increase or reduce the difficulty.

Due to the nature of the landscape some sections can be relatively steep. Paths are generally good and well defined, with regular waymarking, but there are sections which can be rough and mountainous in places and some sections follow open alpine pasture where the trails are less well defined. The steep terrain means that it would be unwise to do this holiday if you suffered from vertigo. This holiday is recommended for walkers with some mountain walking experience.

map location haute provence

Day 1: Arrival

Travel to Sisteron in the Durance Valley, gateway to the Alps.

Day 2: Sisteron - St Geniez

After exploring the historic town of Sisteron a true gateway to the Alps, set between rock walls, climb via Col de Mezien to St Geniez amongst open alpine grasslands in a wonderful setting at 1100m. 17.5km +990m (option of an extra 340m climb to reach the summit of Trainon at 1654m for great panoramic views)

Day 3: St Geniez - Authon

A fantastic walk completing the full horseshoe trail of Les Monges, the highest mountain in the pre-alps of Dignes les Bains. Its summit at 2115m has fantastic views to the Alpine summits and across the Provence. Your walking trail cuts across to the far ridgeline which you then follow over small summits before reaching another ridge which climbs around its glaciated cirque to reach the summit. Impressive views towards the Mercantour mountains to the east. 18km, +1030m, -1200m

Day 4: Authon - Les Brignads

An easier day via a series of interesting geological sites such as a rock shelf covered in ammonites and slopes of black marl. You'll also discover a way of life that has now disappeared with abandoned old farms, chapels and agricultural terraces. 12km, +450m. There is also the optional climb of Tete de Geruen which would mean an extra 12km and 580m of ascent.

You also have the option of going direct from Authon to Thoards, combining parts of day's 4 and 5, to make a 5-night walking holiday: 21km, +950m

Day 5: Les Brignads - Thoards

Your walking trail climbs onto the summit of Corbeau and follows a ridgeline with good views before descending to the Duyes Valley with lavender fields and fruit orchards. 18km, +600m, -750m.

Day 6: Thoards - Dignes les Bains

Your last walk on the second leg of this long distance trail climbs between fields and ridges back into the mountains to reach the summit of La Bigue at 1652m for great views to the south across Provence. Continue along a stunning ridgeline before descending to the town of Digne les Bains where you can discover its spa and further geological sites. 16km, +830m

Day 7: Departure

Departure after breakfast. Onward journey via train station in Dignes les Bains, direction Nice

Contact us about this self-guided walking holiday

 

 

haute provence walking trail panoramic views

sisteron start of part 2 alpine provence trek

ammonites geological reserve haute provence south france

les monges summit alpine walking holiday France

haute provence landscape self guided walking france

black marl geology trail provence walking

 

 

For useful advice about independent walking and preparing for your self guided holiday please take a look at the articles in our top-tips section.

Once you have booked on this independent walking or trekking holiday, further information about the walking, the region and what to bring, will be sent to you. We do have a web page dedicated to what clothes and equipment you should bring. In addition, our travel shop has direct access to all the top walking and travel retailers. Please contact us if you need any further information.

Bed

Accommodation & Meals


On this independent walking holiday crossing the Geological Reserver of Haute Provence, you will stay in a number of charming bed & breakfasts full of local character and small gites. They are a mixture of styles and comfort. All rooms at the guest houses have private bathrooms. We will inform you if this is not possible at the time of booking. Examples of the guest houses used on this part of our Alpine Provence holiday are shown below. The style and comfort varies from chic to rustic, but each has their own charm and your hosts will enjoy giving up their time to make your stay extra special.

A hearty and healthy continental breakfast provides the perfect opportunity to discover the local specialities such as home-made jams and local yoghurt. At midday you will eat packed lunches prepared by your hosts, except the days leaving from Sisteron. Four evening meals will be taken at your guest houses. Your evening meals in Sisteron and Dignes les Bains are not included in the price and will be taken in a local restaurant.

Name Type Details Rating  
Auberge La Bannette B&B Charming B&B close to the village of Thoard, surrounded by fields of lavender overlooked by mountains    
Domaine des Rayes B&B An old 17th century farm renovated to form a charming gite perched at 1300m in altitude with great views    
Travel Options

Travel Options


Make own way to and from this walking holiday accessible by regular train services. Also possible to continue this holiday following on from Part 1 of our Alpine Provence long distance trek by taking a small train ride from Laragne Monteglin.

Walking holiday starts in Sisteron.

Train: Eurostar and the TGV run trains from London to Lyon Part Dieu direct and changing at Lille or Paris.  Either take a TGV to Marseille and then TER train to Sisteron or trains via Valence & Gap. Return journey from Digne les Bains take Train des Pignes to Nice. TGV trains to connect with Marseille, Lyon and Paris.

Flights: The closest airports are Nice, Avignon and Marseille. Trains from Nice to Sisteron at start of trip go via Marseille. Therefore the best option (if possible) is to fly into Marseille and take direct train service to Sisteron and fly out of Nice after having taken Train des Pignes to Nice from Dignes les Bains.

Self-drive: Chanel crossing by ferry with P&O or DFDS ferries and by rail with Eurotunnel. Once in France, drive time from Calais to Sisteron is about 10 hours, excluding long breaks and costs about £50 in motorway tolls. Leave car at first guest house in Sisteron. Please contact us about parking. To return to Sisteron from Dignes les Bains there is a regular bus service run by LER, lines 37 and 33, which run at least 5 times a day between the towns, costing €5.50. A taxi between the towns would cost about €70.

Please check that the walking holiday is available before making any travel arrangements. Please visit our travel shop page for links to useful travel websites.

Photos

Photos


haute provence walking trail south franceeurope panorama
ammonites geological park provence self guided walking holiday
summit monges mountain alpine walking long distance trail france
sisteron provence independent walking holiday
provence landscape hiking holiday france
geopark haute provence alpine walking provence france