Haute-Provence Geological Reserve
Located in the southern Alps, the Reserve features a Butterfly Garden and the Musee-Promenade, a geography museum. Although the 15-minute walk to the museum provides picnic areas to stop and rest or enjoy a snack and leads you through a cool forest, passing a stream and a waterfall, it also involves hiking up a fairly steep hill. For those who can make the hike, the museum features family-oriented exhibits with informative signs in both French and English. In addition to the scenic views of valley and the town of Digne les Bains, the museum has a variety of land and sea fossils from the region as well as exhibits of ancient and modern bears and several small aquariums with live fish. Also located on the hillside, approximately halfway between the parking lot and the museum, is a terraced area with bushes, trees and flowers that were planted to attract butterflies. As a result, approximately 130 species of butterflies have been identified in the Butterfly Garden. A separate ticket is needed to tour the garden but once admitted, you are welcome to join a guided tour or just wander through the garden on your own.
Reserve Geologique de Haute-Provence
Parc St Benoit--BP 156
04000 Digne-les-Bains Cedex
011 (+33) 4 92 36 70 70
Biking Through Luberon
A series of mountains between the Alps and the Mediterranean, the Luberon offers a scenic setting for walking tours, hikes or bike rides. Strategically placed sign posts will guide you through the hills and valleys, while local bike shops are happy to provide rentals as well as create a personalized bike route suitable for any skill level. Experienced bikers might be interested in taking the 51-km loop to travel through Apt, Rustrel, Villars, Saint Saturnin les Apt, Roussillon and Gargas, but whether you prefer a casual bike ride through the local villages and markets or an extended journey through the Luberon Regional National Park, everyone will enjoy a visit to this region.
8 Rue des Observantins
011 (+33) 4 90 67 11 70
The scent of lavender perfumes the air throughout Provence. The aromatic plant with blue or light purple flowers is planted across the countryside and is used in perfumes, in pastry, to flavor honey and wine as well as in sachets. Depending upon the seasonal weather and the regional conditions, lavender is generally in bloom from late June until mid October, but the best time to travel through the lavender fields is from July through the beginning of August, just before the harvest. Depending upon your preference, you can sign up for a guided walking tour of the fragrant fields or take an extended guided tour via car or bicycle along the Routes de la Lavende. If your timing is right, take the time to explore some of the numerous festivals that are held throughout Provence in the late summer to celebrate the lavender harvest. The Fete de la Lavende in Montelimar is one of the largest festivals, but there are also smaller festivals in several villages, including Sault and Barreme. If you are in the area during the first weekend of August, you can visit one of the most popular harvest festivals in France, the 5-day annual Corso de la Lavande in Digne les Bains. No trip to Provence is complete without enjoying the local exhibitions, gardens, crafts or distilleries that revolve around the fragrant flower.
Corso de la Lavande
Boulevard Martin Bret
04000 Digne les Bains
011 (+33) 6 34 41 86 29
Article Written By Betsy Bender
Betsy Bender is a media consultant with experience in publishing, event management, media relations, digital media and television production. Specializing in entertainment, travel and sports, Bender has worked with high-profile personalities, facilitated publicity campaigns for network television programs and traveled to more than 100 cities in eight countries, including Russia and Australia.