From spring to autumn, the scenery of the Southern Alps metamorphoses. Walk, gallop, or bike at the heart of these breath-taking landscapes that change with each season. There’s a way for everyone to explore!
Find the Shoe that Fits
Explore art, history, and a fortified town
Forget your GPS for a moment, for hiking in the Southern Alps means you first have to choose which route to take. The Route du Temps [Time Route] connects Digne-les-Bains to Sisteron and promises a very beautiful panorama over Provence and the Alps. As you trace the footsteps of Roman soldiers on the Via Domitia, look at the impeccable geometry of the Vauban fortresses in Briançon and Mont-Dauphin.
On the Via Alta, nourish your spiritual side with a stop at the Abbaye de Boscodon, in Serre-Ponçon or at the foot of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame-du-Réal, a gem of Roman architecture, in Embrun,. In the Alps, our small steps follow those of great figures like Napoleon – the Route which bears his name connects Grasse to Sisteron. Perched a few metres above the Durance, the town also sees pilgrims pass as they cross the Chemins de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle [Santiago de Compostela].
Reach Great Heights
Hike in the wilderness accompanied or completely free to roam.
Hiking is like fashion: everyone chooses their route according to their desires. In the Vallée de la Clarée, a Natura 2000 listed site, treat yourself to a made-to-measure hike thanks to the guides at La Vie Sauvage. Other not-to-miss Southern Alps hikes? The trails of the Parc National des Ecrins will take you on an ascent of the Pic du Vieux Chaillol and its 1,500-metre drop. Or take your family to Le Saut du Laïre, where the marmots live. In kids’ mode, you could also try out the hike at Les Lacs d’Orcières, accessible by a telemix lift.
In the Parc National du Mercantour, you’ll never forget discovering the sanctuary of the Madone de Fenestre. Plus, the view is incredible from the summits of the Cirque de la Madone. For even more wonder, hike to the engravings at the foot of Mont Bégo in the Vallée des Merveilles. Note, this hike is only accessible on foot and with a compulsory guide.
Change your pace. Ride a bike or a horse.
Digne-les-Bains holds a special place in the hearts of bike touring thanks to the 223 km of signposted routes and 400 km of mountain biking trails! There is something for all tastes, in every kind of setting, and at every pace: freeride biking at EVO Bike Park, a city ride, or an outing to the Terres Noires. Another essential spot: Annot and its mountain biking slopes in sandstone country.
For energetic kids, get on your mountain bikes for the Tour du Raton. Depart from Valberg and pedal through the spruce trees. For budding cowboys, you’ll find different levels of horse riding in the Hautes-Alpes at Les Sabots de Vénus Centre. Don’t forget: the Route Napoleon is a registered Grand Itinéraire Équestre [Major Horse-Riding Route]. For the uninitiated, go for a gentle horse-drawn carriage ride in the Clues de Barle.
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Reinvent Your Jaunts
Behind every journey, there are always surprises
What if the recipe for happiness is less than 3 km/hour? To really take your time, why not go for a ride on a donkey? From Risoul, you’ll head off with Virginie, a high mountain guide and ethnobotanist. On the programme for this Zen outing: a little lesson on the secrets of the flora of the Alps and foraging for plants and flowers. Over towards Barcelonnette, climb on a funny-looking machine for an effortless gyro trek: the gyropod emits neither CO2 nor noise. A notice to enthusiasts, too, for the dog-carting in the Vallée des Merveilles: 2 or 3 dogs harnessed to your cart will take you on the trail and invite you to follow them. Finally, a nod to our motor-biking friends who will be spoiled in the Southern Alps. Our favourite: the Route des Grandes Alpes, which goes over the Col du Galibier, perched at more than a height of 2620 metres.