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1 week in the Gorges du Verdon= 2 campsites to discover the richness of this incredible site

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Les Alpes de Haute-Provence (04)

​The Ubaye

The heroic Valley

Long cut off from the world and trapped in his high collars, the Ubaye Valley belongs to these lands that force fate. That of "Mexicans", both in crossing the Rubicon, pushed up South America to fortune; one of the last inhabitants of the Barge and Malajasset clinging to the highest hamlets of Europe; the austere garrisons that have been eyeing on the borders of Piedmont. Today, the Valley is open, but the mountains in the middle of which flows the River are still there.You return this heroic echo.

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Location and access

The ubaye Valley is the northernmost Department of Provence against Italy (region of Piedmont) and on the edge of the Mercantour national park the annexed part of the Valley.
Of Marseille A51 to worthy by D900, then by the D908 Barcelonnette. Grenoble direction Gap and the col Bayard by the D900 to Barcelonnette.


Tormented and threaded by glacial erosion the Ubaye Valley offers a double face: austere in its remotest lined with larches, gorges and valleys; shimmering in those where the man, at the beginning of the century, asked its claw by making bloom forests of black pine and Scots pine and dams (more than a thousand including that of Serre-Ponçon in 1960) to appease the whims of nature.
But the Ubaye is above all renowned for its meadows and carries with it all the "caption" of transhumance and the mountain pasture. It is rare but possible today to cross a white tide moutonnant out of sight and meandering between small walls of dry stones, in the laces of mountain roads.
Between 1821 and the 1930s, nearly 5,000 inhabitants of Barcelonnette crossed the Atlantic to go fortune in the Mexico. Some have returned to the country after conquering El Dorado and made push Baroque houses, villas-castles such as the fountain (the three brothers Arnaud avenue).
It crosses also fortifications, remnants of the Maginot line as the fort from the top Saint-Ours, to protect themselves from the Piedmont.

Fauna and flora

If the edelweiss is King of the Ecrins, genepi is prince in Ubaye. Picked in the spring, the flower of this plant in altitude macerates in alcohol and sugar for months to give a tasty liqueur.
The upper Valley, protected by access difficult and sharing a border with the Park of Mercantour, houses nearly 150 species of birds breeding (especially raptors) and colonies of chamois, Mouflon, deer... But one of the treasures of the Ubaye is before any mineral: in churches, giant clams and the curbstones of rare fountains have green color veined white marble Maurin whose careers were operated until 1950 and on which one can walk to Opera Garnier.

To discover

The Ubaye is a white paradise. With Praloup winter sports stations, related to la Foux d'Allos, Le Sauze, Super-Sauze and Sainte-Anne of Condamine, Valley concentrates the largest ski resort of the Southern Alps, with nearly 500 km of slopes for Alpine skiing and cross-country skiing 78.
For hiking, which often use the Nordic winter hiking and cross-country skiing trails, G 56 here crosses the GR5 from Modane and ends at Larche.
Overlooking the Lake of Serre-Ponçon (a trail actually turn), 'coiffed ladies' silhouette stands in sunset, between Savines and Le Lauzet. This geological curiosity is probably one of the most beautiful feet of nose of nature in Provence. Epargnées and arising from the successive gullies of the slopes, these columns of Earth are each topped by a stone in balance and aligned to the chalk.

The Marinet glacier

Located in the commune of Saint-Paul, the hamlet of Malajasset, one of the highest in Europe, looks like a mountain hut and seems hung on its flanks since the dawn of time. As are in any case rock glaciers that lie at an altitude of 2,600 m, 100 000 years. Nestled at the foot of the di Chambeyron needles, these glaciers have swallowed the mountain. Most grow a high forehead on the rocks, the West flows as a thick language a succession of lakes in Milky water. As if these glaciers, always in activity, were crying mountain basing.
To get on the site, 'the tears' in question have the bitter taste of sweat at the hiker. The ride makes five hours and swallows thousand meters of altitude. The trail (good and marked in red) part of the Church of Maurin, upstream of the hamlet. It descends to the Ubaye, you enter a wood of larches and goes the Valley of Mary through pastures to the pass of the same name. Beyond that, can rally the pass husband-net and the two lakes, on a mountainside.

The Valley of the White

Located on the western fringe of the Ubaye, make a hook through the white Valley offers a plural happiness away from frequent sites. This Valley (which is accessed by worthy and the D900 in Seyne-les-Alpes direction) allows a hook by truant mountain, in an area of pastoral tradition. The Valley is famous for its Chabanon winter sports stations, Saint-Jean Montclar, Grand Puy and its routes in the forests of larch (at the beginning of each station) on snowshoes.
The Valley of the White is also the scene of a caprice of nature that has nothing to envy to that of "coiffed damsels" of Serre-Ponçon. On a ridge overlooking Seyne-les-Alpes, a huge chunk of rock 5 m high was installed in equilibrium by a glacier. Is called the Pierre Grosse of Selonnet site.

The Verdon: vertical paradise

Huge Gash, cut to the axe in the limestone, the Verdon canyon is 17 times smaller than its American cousin but belongs to the same family of sites of legend.Erosion gave birth to walls that most diving in a vacuum and a river that has carved arches and meandering. Here, nature has talent and places at your feet... 700 m lower in places.

Location and access

Natural border between the Var and the Alpes de Haute Provence, the gorges du Verdon (site since 1990) stretch 21 km between the Castillon Lake and St. Croix who drowned in 1973 plain rooms. These two lakes have regulated appeased previously turbulent River and given a new face and a - tourist - future to the place.
Nice by the RN202, Cannes by driving, route Napoléon, Manosque (or Aix by the A51) take the D6 to laugh then the D952 towards Moustiers, up to Castellane.


Move to the Verdon is already an enchantment. We cross the plateaus of Valensole lavender, oak forests rich in truffles Riez or fields of poppies on the side of Comps, we're on the roads of authentic Provence. That good fleure the thyme and savory. If the heart is to dream, it will pinch on the road of the gorges that chokes at the foot of the Sainte-Croix Lake. The fabulous work of erosion in the Jurassic limestone plateau has created a huge flaw that plummets from 200 to 700 meters. Each of these levels is home to a rich and diverse vegetation. Geological curiosity offered biological nose developing with the help of a cold and damp microclimate at ground level, endemic vegetation: at the bottom of the gorges flourish altitude species and vice versa. On the plateau, dogwood, brooms and oleanders give the place a mosaic of colors enhanced by the ochre of the walls.

Fauna and flora

Oaks, beeches, Oaks white, lime trees... to Provence classics here add more rare species, protected by the cloak of rocks of the Gorge the Pistacia terebinthus, Maple and mountain ash. On the flanks cliffs cling a few bunches of flowers (Narcissus Peony, Lily) and shrubs, including the fern aphenieum, but also chamois.
The Gorge contains two treasures (light yellow or pink) soft clay that makes the quality of the earthenware of Moustiers, and boxwood whose profusion gave to the region, and Aiguines especially original industry of the middle ages in the 1940s. Turned, rounded and polished, boxwood was used to make Pestles and mortars as well as the petanque balls once covered with small Iron nails! A Museum of wood Turners pays tribute to these artisans in Aiguines.
To discover
•    By car
As all '' extreme environments offering a total immersion in the natural environment, the Verdon confined enthusiasts of the car around the Gorge by departmental roads, D23 right bank called "route des crêtes" (the prettiest and most spectacular departing from La Palud) or the left bank D71. Both are dotted with impressive lookouts (including those of the stopovers and the tooth of area). But the route des crêtes is a better quality-time report, with 2 to 3 h only car journey has the output of Aiguines, the road leading to the Gorge via the col of D'illoire plunges on the circus of Vaumale in a beautiful Rocky chaos.
•    Foot
The best way to tame this universe rest walking (on the GR4 in the North and the GR99 South) and its variants more sports (Rafting, hydrospeed, kayaking...).The longest path (the path of water from Rougon) requires two market days but the simple stroller can choose between a dozen well arrow hiking, 2 to 10 hours and varying difficulties. Rougon, gateway to the Grand Canyon (the village dominates the Sublime Point and the famous maze of the Samson corridor), the GR4 joined the GR49.
From longest to shortest, family or sports, these well plotted routes give for all tastes including the area around the site, on the particular Brouis massif.
"It will advise athletes trail the Mescla (40 mn) that cuts the Martel Trail not far from the cliff of the horsemen, to the place where the Verdon meets its tributary of the Artuby"Mescla"means ' mixing of the waters". You can enjoy the shade.
The Martel trail owes its name to the first Explorer of the gorges, the french speleologist Edouard Alfred Martel, who performs the 21 km in three days in the month of August, 1905. This trail runs through the bottom of Gorges, of the (north shore on the D3) Maline to Point Sublime. This path is one of the busiest with the Imbut installed shore left, shorter (5-6 pm) but more athletic.
It takes eight hours to swallow the 14 km marked out by the GR4. At some places, the river is very rugged and the path rises in tunnels (remains of a hydroelectric project of the 1930s) or iron stairs riveted to the cliff. After the tunnels, it is at the foot of the reddish cliff of stopovers, which stands the pretty weapon old Ridge. The path continues under a limestone or tree canopy under which the sky seems very far. At the end of the trail starts (family but difficult) hiking the Bastidon, by the ravine tortured the mortmain.
On the other side, near the circus of Aumale, the cliff of the jumpers (which can be reached by the D71, since Aiguines) ends the "sublime corniche" as everywhere here in the vertical position. A panoramic, acrobatic but not dangerous, trail guides to the gateway of the Estellie where sunlight plays on the ochre walls and which we let slip the Maline hut.

A land of adventure

The Verdon with bare hands

On the Verdon, Giono wrote 'that here the wind speaks here with voice dead gods'. Those who frequent the cliffs do not listen to the wind but the song of the sirens of altitude. In the 1970s, the cliff of l ' Escalès (near La Palud) and his ways stretched on 400 m of drop were regarded as France's most challenging routes. Here, the escalation is a religion and brings international recognition to the site, who has adapted by creating a school of climbing (in Quinson) and guides (in La Palud) office. The request, Ula (in the stopovers), the Nasiaque are so many walls become legendary. One of them summed up the spirit of those who frequent sites: the way of the rabid... Here and there, can be seen to draw into scales (escarassons) or the pitons wooden walls remains of an ancestral practice which had nothing playful. Boxwood, retained by a hemp rope, hunters already defied the laws of balance to fetch the precious wood. Old or new, all have the same philosophy: the vacuum for absolute.
•    Feet in the water
Canoeing, rafting, canyoning, hydrospeed... the tumults of the River winding through the decorations tortured canyons are gorges a temple of the living water.Some Rapids summarize in their name the extreme aspect of the environment. This is the case for the river Styx or the stunners...
•    Or upside down
The limit of the Alpes de Haute Provence, bridge the Artuby (D71) became in recent years a global Mecca for bungee jumping. A few minutes of preparation and a few seconds fall to swallow the 90 meters of vacuum, the fastest descent into the Gorge...
•    The caves of Saint-Maurin
Aside trails hiking and the views of many as the Verdon, the caves of Saint-Maurin offer beautiful sights. It is reached by the D952 from Moustiers and just after the entrance to the Gorge, by the cascade of Saint-Maurin from which a trail that rises between rocks and grasslands and a leafy beech wood. You quickly reach a first strand of caves and can sneak up to a second series of balms, most beautiful, a little higher. The trail then makes a loop by meadows above the grottoes and at the foot of the cliffs of Maurin. It brings back the first caves down.
In the Gorge this time, you can discover the cave of the Baou, a cave once used as refuge to herds and which opens on an exuberant vegetation. The rise of the ravine of the Baou, one of the most beautiful, is an easy hike.


Mythical Temple of earthenware (since 1679), village tourism, nestled in lush Cypress, owes much to the vagaries of nature to feed the magic of its narrow streets. Built amphitheatrically, it is installed at the foot of a tortured cliff and color ochre, slotted a breach of 227 metres. The two catches at the foot of which is are coiled houses are connected by a string to which the (good) star of the blacas family hangs from the mi' century. A trail, steep and converted in way of the cross, gives access to the sanctuary of Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir which dominates the village. Point of view is breathtaking and the courage rewarded can even freshen up in the torrent that flows cascading down, until the bridge of Moustiers.


If adventure you go through Castellane, you recognize immediately the rock overlooking the town. This Rock top of 900 m allows to have stunning views of the mountains surrounding the village (Destourbes, Robion...), and the Verdon which stretches at the foot of its inhabitants. Take the time to visit this village steeped in history, and why mount admire Notre-Dame-du-Roc (900 m, on the Roc de Castellane), which watches over the Castellanais a few decades already.

The Eouvieres massif

Wild and beautiful, is the motto of the Eouvieres massif which plunges its forest of Oaks in turquoise du Verdon (at this point), just after its passage in the Lake of St. Croix. Installed on the South shore of the Lake, the massif plummets in cascades of small valleys, dotted with as of prehistoric caves, until the dark gorges of Baudinard. Particularity of the place: oak, ubiquitous on the limestone language of Provence, sharing the Crown here with the Red Cedar. Without being rare and endemic, the birds that inhabit this massif are less present elsewhere - Skylark, common quail, black Redstart, Western Bonelli's Warbler form important colonies. Property of the Conservatoire du littoral, the Eouvieres are busiest trails including the most common takes up the chapel Notre-Dame-de-Baudinard which offers a nice point of view on the Lake of Sainte-Croix and the blushing Valensole plateau.


The Sentinel mountain

Overlooking the plain mixed fields of lavender, Lure is more than a simple comma placed at the foot of the Alps. Here, the mountain married the sky taking the horizon for witness. Its highest point (1826 m), you can see the Vivarais, discover the foothills of the Massif central and breathe, when the mistral plays with the clouds, the scent of the Mediterranean. Homeland of Giono, confluence of the mysterious valleys of Haute-Provence, Lure is a sentinel, the outpost of a country of lights, the glory of one of his fathers which we guess still shade on the nearby rooftops of Manosque.

Location and access

Lure is installed between the Luberon, the plateau d'Albion, the foothills of Ubaye and the plain which stretches from Manosque-des-Plateaux to the sea. Sentinel of Provence, all roads lead there.
South A7, exit Avignon South and then RN100 up to Forcalquier.
A51, Aix-Sisteron, exit La Brillanne (11 km from Forcalquier), Saint-Étienne-les-Orgues and D113 towards the Summit.
To the North, driving Grenoble-Sisteron, join Saint-Etienne-les-Orgues by Peypin, Mallefougasse
(D951) or take Sisteron Le Thor to arrive on site by the wonderful the Jabron Valley.


The mountain of Lure is a map postal life-size of the Prealpine massifs. Green summer, redhead in the fall, white winter, multicolor in spring. Trees spend life without that hiker is touching both the agony is beautiful. By knocking at the doors of Lure, is entered on a carpet of lavender and garrigues, hemmed wildfires to thyme. Above, is immersed in an ocean of white oak and then in a beech forest in the undergrowth very frequented by hikers and lovers of mushrooms. You can access eventually to the Lunar scenery of summits which, with its clusters of rocks and fat herbs, recalls the Northern steppes.

Fauna and flora

Lure remains a renowned pasture. To watch over the sheep and the goats (this is Banon cheese draws his reputation), two birds reign supreme Ravens which nests in the cliffs of the north slope and the short-toed, a small migratory Raptor dear to Giono "Blue Jean". Between sheets of junipers, rosehips, Primroses, bluebells and "cougueou" Heavenly blue flowers, you can cross the Viper Orsini, color olive, little aggressive and less dangerous in any case than the Hellebore and its toxic leaves.
The legend that grows out of sight lavatherae of Heraclea, one of the rarest plants of France who disappeared almost here also. A thousand plant species are identified on the different floors of the mountain, foxes, wild boars and deer roam happily


•    Foot
Over 500 km of marked trails to furrow Lure. The GR6 crosses massif, "jas", these old sheepfolds dry stone and monuments such as the Abbey of Lure posed since the 12th century in the hollow of a combe on the southern slope of the mountain, at 1,236 m altitude.
•    Mountain bike
Walks at day 20 and 9 circuits of several days are possible on trails that cross or prolong the GR6. The latest trend is the Lure round in 8-10 days with bivouac equipment or recommended steps deposits.
•    Hot air ballooning
The Forcalquier Tourist Office organizes flights in hot air balloon and depending on his mood, the wind will push you to Lure or the Luberon. Favorite season: fall for the flamboyance of the nature. Possibility of weekend complete with a certificate of flight to the key
•    The mystery of the Mourres
In the Mourres, nature has sculpted the rock with the talent of a lacemaker, carving in Marl-limestone of the fairy chimneys at the top front, elegant belly and chunky foot.
Scattered by a necessarily divine hand, some elements of this rocky chaos includes snouts of animals (the mourre in Provençal). A trail (behind the gendarmerie of Forcalquier) to toggle in this mystical universe and in this maze of stone arches. Discovering one of the great geological curiosities of the region.
•    The Contadour
In the foothills of the Contadour told that even the mistral wind that rushes into the steep valleys and rockeries languages has the accent of the Midi. That of Giono, who gave his soul and a name to the place mat at the foot of Lure. The Contadour was the scene of one of his first 'film records': Croesus tells the story of a native Shepherd of this small hamlet, played by Fernandel.
Access to the site is from Banon in the direction of Revest-du-Bion (D950).
A few kilometres after the release of Banon, turn right towards the Sartrons and the hamlet of Redortiers (D5) where it crosses the ruins of a tower of the Romanesque period.
After passing the hamlet, a farm-Inn sounds the rallying of hikers for a ride that rises quietly through a beech forest and then a soft, lined with "jas" prairie. You can stop, but the bravest engage on the trail which leads to the pass of Grand collar and at the top of Leandros (1379 m) to offer a panoramic view of the Valley of Jabron flowing calmly on the other side of Lure and a beautiful descent by the Illustrator forest inhabited by white alisiers, Aspen and birch.
Gathering of intellectuals from 1935 to 1939, pilgrimages of poets at Easter and in the summer, the Contadour remains in winter a sumptuous field of hiking to cross-country skiing.

The call of the wild

At a crow flies du Contadour profile Carcq forest that can be reached via the hamlet of Jonquet (by D12 and D112) and dominates as an ultimate goal and a sublime view of the Hill of the Defens 1403 m. On a carpet of dead leaves, in the middle of maples and Scots pine, the ride on improvised paths is greener, more bucolic, less frequented. The lucky ones will be able to see deer, other shrews. All, a small corner of paradise in the margins of the paths beaten not suspected, in the belly of the nearby land of the plateau d'Albion, the missiles of the strategic force.
•    Centre of geology of Haute-Provence
The geological Reserve of Haute-Provence, the largest in Europe, protects a vast territory (149 000 ha), where rocks and fossils content us history of the region under 300 million years ago to the present day. Among the more famous sites, all classified "Natural Reserves":
The slab of the Isnards (worthy) with more than 1550 ammonites over 320 m², recalls that there is - 200 million years ago the area was occupied by a tropical sea. The Ichthyosaur, large marine reptile of the secondary, which the skeleton is protected in a site Museum, Carboniferous, where art and science trail invite you to a journey to less 300 million years ago through the equatorial forest inhabited by tree ferns and other plants now extinct. Two circuits of discovery with a dozen of developed sites are currently open to the public.
•    The Museum of the Valley
Once upon a time... the story of a valley who lived the American dream. Is it includes collections on the Neolithic occupation (of the Roman colonization iron age) and the local ethnographic traditions (of transhumance to the big sheet), the Museum of the Valley was primarily a human face: those of the three brothers Arnaud which offered to Barcelonnette Mexican parentage. The museum traces this epic across the Atlantic which lasted from 1826 to 1930. An epic collective since each family in the Valley sent at least one of his parents in the footsteps of the pioneers who had made a fortune there, in textile counters. The entire first floor exposes the saga of these 5,000 adventurers banging photos, old documents and objects. At this gallery of portraits, the Museum adds another: that of Emile Chabrand, the "Tintin" of the place. The India in the Japan, his memories of travel are presented in a superb collection, which is a Valley open to the world of Barcelonnette.
•    The Penitents of les Mées
From afar, it looks like an impregnable Citadel guarding the Durance. Closer, Giants in file Indian following a path of imaginary cross. Posed in the middle of the plain, out of nowhere, les Mées intrigue. But everything is explained.
Mixture Pebble, sand and sandstone forming a very solid package, these pins at the front top and stocky body have been carved about 25 million years ago.Erosion still refines these ghostly figures. But the cold geological explanation, it has always preferred, here, the allegory of the legend. The petrified monks on the spot to have been tempted by the sin of flesh before the charm of seven beautiful Moorish made captive by the Lord of les Mées. It is this legend that gave their name to the "penitent". And the legend is still alive: with their homespun color sand, the penitents blush into the sunset... A ridge trail to follow their eternal wandering out of the Saint-Roch Chapel.
•    Living Museum of the bee
Surfing on the purple tide of the Valensole plateau, the living museum of the bee brings an original touch to the evocation of lavender, Queen and nectar of Provence. The Museum, playful madness of a passionate beekeeper, presents educational and historical collections (Tools, pictures, documents...) which recount the saga of the insect through the centuries. But it also puts theory into practice by presenting a video on the "language" of bees and exposing a beehive glass where you can see 30,000 workers at work. The 'must' is still Threading the wire mesh CAP and the beekeeper model jacket there for all sizes, to visit the Apiary and touch finger the realities of this world. The finger and taste buds since at the end of the visit of these 50 hives, guide offers a cocktail made with honey.And an invitation to delight.
•    Gardens of the Priory of Salagon
Ethnobotanisme, do you know? It comes to show the relationships between the flora and the company. Here, three gardens around 700 species reflect the popular uses of flora of Haute-Provence. A little gem with, among others, the garden of the "simple", these plants that were once used as the remedies to cure humans and animals. In the medieval garden, there are also some 300 plants used in the middle ages, including the "capitulary of Villis' 88 that Charlemagne wanted to see cultivated in the gardens of the Empire, the forgotten cereal or cooking herbs, plants of the spells or love magic, including the mysterious Mandrake or discrete Verbena. Garden of scents, with its collections of sages and other aromatic Labiatae of Compositae - where a place of choice is made to Sage - and umbelliferae, opens foreign flora for the pure pleasure of the senses.
•    Citromuseum: back in the past
In the town of Castellane, a passion for cars Citroën had ambition to collect post-war models and bringing them together in a museum. Entirely dedicated to these unique cars, Museum contains rare pieces in perfect original condition most often (vehicles leave the factory or preserved with great care by the owners). Get ready to return to a time when Citroen were exception cars before becoming collection cars.

hiking - Verdon Gorge
hiking- Castellane
hiking - Verdon gorge
hiking - Roc Castellane

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