Provence

Digne-Les-Bains

Digne-les-Bains is a delightful town at the foot of the Alps, surrounded by fragrant lavender fields and famous for its spas and climate.
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Situated about 600 metres above sea level, the town of Digne-les-Bains lies in the heart of the geological reserve ofHaute-Provence, surrounded by unspoilt vegetation, rich in mountain ranges. With around 17,000 inhabitants, it is a dynamic and very active town.

Renowned for its lavender cultivation, Digne-les-Bains celebrates the harvest each year with a festival not to be missed on the first weekend in August: the town hosts the Cours de la Lavande, a festival dedicated to the Provençal flower. With a rich programme of parades, farmers’ markets, concerts, shows, dancing and fireworks, this festival fills the whole town with joy.

Things to do in Digne-les-Bains

The home of Alexandra David-Néel

This delightful town at the foot of the Alps is surrounded by expanses of lavender. Digne-les-Bains attracts many tourists with its wealth, historical heritage, picturesque appearance and pedestrian streets.

The historical centre, located in the Rochas district, is dominated by the majestic St. Jerome Cathedral, with its Gothic architecture, and the Clock Tower, topped by one of the most beautiful bell towers in the region. In reality, the city has its roots in the Bourg district. It was indeed here that the Notre Dame du Bourg Cathedral was built in the 9th century on the remains of Roman villas, housing a crypt containing Gallo-Roman and medieval archaeological remains.

Gassendi Museum

164 Bd Gassendi, 04000 Digne-les-Bains, Francia

Inaugurated in 1906, the Gassendi Museum presents itself as a permanent exhibition space in perpetual evolution. The visitor discovers the dialogue established between the collections of natural sciences, ancient art and contemporary art through a route imagined as a mountain path: the considerable difference in height of the building is alleviated by a lift and stairs.

The visit to the museum continues outside, with the Mountain Art Collection, to be discovered while walking. The visitor becomes a hiker, immersing himself in the wild landscapes of the UNESCO Geopark, to encounter works created in nature and in abandoned villages, by contemporary artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Herman de Vries, Mark Dion, Paul-Armand Gette, Trevor Gould and Stéphane Bérard.

La Dalles aux Ammonites

2Rte de Barles, 04000 Digne-les-Bains, Francia

Located on the right bank of the Bléone river, about 1.5 km north of the village of Digne-les-Bains, on the road to Barles, this immense ammonites lab has become one of the emblematic sites of Haute Provence.

It was discovered in 1940 during some roadworks. After deforestation, the slab was unearthed with its impressive concentration of ammonite fossils. They have a univalve shell rolled up on themselves. Their shapes and sizes change over time, giving rise to rare species.

On an inclined slab of 320 square metres, more than 1,550 large ammonite fossils are arranged. The largest ones have a diameter of around 70 cm. 90% of the ammonites observed on the slab belong to the species Coroniceras multicostatum, which colonised the marine space during the Sinemurian period, in the Lower Jurassic, 198 million years ago. There are also a few rare fossils of nautilus, belemnites, scallops and otherribivalves.

The slab imprisoning the fossils is part of a succession of very compact, fine-grained limestone or clayey limestone layers. These are sedimentary deposits left in an ocean basin a few hundred metres deep by the force of waves and storms.

Alexandra David-Néel's House

327 Av. du Maréchal Juin, 04000 Digne-les-Bains, Francia

Alexandra David-Neel was the first European woman, disguised as a beggar, to enter the Forbidden City of Lhasa, Tibet, in 1924: she was an indomitable explorer and writer, an incredible character who contributed to the rebirth of Buddhism in France.

This exceptional woman with a free and adventurous life died at the age of 100 in Digne-les-Bains. During her long life, she was a Tibetologist, opera singer and feminist, journalist and anarchist, writer and explorer, Freemason and Buddhist.

After her death, her house was turned into a museum, with a craft workshop and an association dedicated to her. You can admire her photos, shocking for the time, sent during her correspondence with her family, her adventurous expeditions and the chronology of her eventful life, discovering the story of a truly inimitable woman.

The Lavender Museum

432 Bd Gassendi 1er étage, 04000 Digne-les-Bains, Francia

Created in 1991, the Lavender Museum is a true place of discovery, where you can admire the products of lavender growers and its Provençal charm. In addition, the museum space offers workshops, guided tours and exclusive events for lovers of this flower.

It recounts the history, production, locations and importance on the territory of the best-known and most famous symbol of the Provençal landscape.

The Geopark of Haute-Provence

5Mntée Bernard Della Casagrande, 10 Av. Saint-Benoît BP 30156, 04000 Digne-les-Bains, Francia

In this Unesco-classified nature reserve, you can travel through time to discover the last 300 million years of planet Earth. Its cultural heritage, surrounded by historical monuments, bears witness to activity dating back two millennia.

The Geopark of Haute-Provence covers 60 municipalities in the Alpes de Haute-Provence département: an area rich in flavours, fragrances and colours, linking the Alps to Provence, where the memory of the earth meets the memory of men, benefiting from places of remarkable ecological richness and extreme biodiversity.

Its cultural heritage, consisting of historical monuments and rural buildings, bears witness to human activity dating back more than two millennia. The territory is marked by a collection of around a hundred contemporary works of art produced in the natural environment by renowned artists, such as Andy Goldsworthy and his Refuges d’Art.

The Geopark is also rich in intangible heritage, which can be found in the use of the Provençal language, but also in traditional music and dance, as well as in crafts, customs, tales and legends.

The Butterfly Garden

610 montee Bernard Dellacasagrande, 04000 Digne-les-Bains, Francia

The Butterfly Garden is one of the most beautiful treasures in the heart of the city: it allows you to discover a hundred native and natural butterflies.

The Butterfly Garden is the first garden dedicated to local butterflies: it is accessible to everyone in a pleasant and natural environment. Children and parents can explore the fascinating world of Provence’s plants and butterflies.

Visitors are often accompanied by animators to share information and help macrophoto enthusiasts.

The Garden of the Cordeliers

7Pl. des Cordeliers, 04000 Digne-les-Bains, Francia

This green lung in the heart of the city was created centuries ago by monks and today reinvented by gardeners, artists and botanists.

The garden of the Cordeliers is traversed by paths lined with ancient boxwood, separating four squares dedicated to the relationship between humans and plants: the garden of uses evokes the companionship between plants, men and divinities, the Mediterranean garden recounts the slow work of plant domestication, in particular a wild rose garden and a collection of lavender, the garden of words was dedicated by the artist Jean Daviot to the writer Maria Borrély, and the garden of roses, in honour of the explorer Alexandra David-Neel, to remind us that plants also travel.

Map

In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article

The lavender of Digne-Les-Bains

Surrounded by an evocative landscape, Digne-les-Bains is known as the historical capital of lavender. Between the Alps and Provence, the town is located in a mid-mountain landscape: this results in exceptional air quality with very little humidity, far from the pollution of large urban centres and with valleys perfect for growing lavender.

To discover these immense expanses of lavender, take the road from Digne-les-Bains towards Nice, passing through the small villages of Mézel, Estoublon or Bras d’Asse to the Valensole plateau. You will not be able to resist the urge to stop and immortalise the violet touches in the middle of the wheat fields: a perfumed sea stretching as far as the eye can see opens up before you.

To see the fields in bloom, plan a stay between 15 June and the end of July. The flowering lasts until the end of August but the lavender is harvested from the second half of July.

Don’t miss the Corso Lavanda , which takes place on the first weekend of August during which, since 1939, the town dresses itself in light and takes visitors to discover the land of scents with its parades of decorated floats, music groups and its great carnival.

The Lavender Fair, on the other hand, occupies the main square of Digne les Bains at the end of August. There you will find all the products resulting from the cultivation of lavender such as essences, soaps, honey and products for the home and person. This fair has been organised since the 1920s and takes place when the cutting period ends. Originally, it was a trade fair for lavender essence, to introduce its properties to the greatest perfumers. Over the years, it has also become a popular event for private individuals to buy locally produced products such as honey, syrups, soaps and sweets.

During these festivals, producers demonstrate distillation: it is a unique opportunity to meet colourful characters and discover the talents of Provence.

The thermal baths at Digne-Les-Bains

Situated in the heart of the Eaux Chaudes valley, the thermal baths of Digne-les-Bains offer you a pleasant relaxing break during your holiday

The water used at the Thermes de Digne-les-Bains springs from the Ophelia well, at a temperature of 50°C. This 870-metre-deep well continuously feeds the thermal establishment.

As a result of the contact between the different rocks it passes through on its long underground journey, the water has considerable mineralisation. This gives it analgesic and anti-infective properties. Its deep origin guarantees the constancy of its chemical composition. Very rich in sulphur, calcium, sodium and chloride ions, the thermal water of Digne-les-Bains is classified in the category of sulphated, chlorinated, sodium and calcic waters. In fact, the water infiltrates the Blayeul massif at an altitude of 1250 m, reaches a depth of 1500 m and then resurfaces thanks to a network of faults, after a journey of several decades.

You can choose from specific therapeutic treatments, suitable for those with particular problems, an incredible range of massages, including Tibetan massages, relaxing hydromassage, which stimulates the blood circulation and replenishes the body with minerals, water activities of all kinds, such as aquagym, aquarelax, aquafins and aquajets, aromatherapy and wellness courses.

The new Thermes de Haute-Provence, on the other hand, pursues the mission of the Digne-les-Bains thermal baths but addresses a new clientele. Equipped with new offers dedicated to well-being, the establishment consists of aspa area dedicated to body care, a bubble of well-being that combines relaxation, calm and serenity, and an aqualudic and sports area, which combines the benefits of naturally warm thermal water at 33°C with activities in the pools in an atmosphere dedicated to relaxation. Jacuzzis, hammams, saunas and solariums complete this wellness experience with the benefits of dry or wet heat and relaxing scented vapours.

Finally, to promote blood circulation, you can soak for a few minutes in the 3 small independent indoor pools: the frigidarium (cold bath), the tepidarium (hot bath) and the caldarium (hot bath). Inherited from the Romans, these 3 pools allow you, thanks to a gradual lowering of the water temperature, to tighten your pores and accelerate blood circulation to purify your body by regenerating your cells.

Train des Pignes

If you have the time and the desire to try a different and suggestive experience, you should not miss the famous Chemins de fer de Provence line that connects Digne les Bains to Nice four times a day, starting in the Alpes-de-Haute Provence, passing through the hinterland of Nice before entering the Côte d’Azur.

From the land of fine lavender to that of chestnut groves, Le train des Pignes is one of the most scenic routes in Haute Provence. The charm of the convoys of yesteryear has given way to modernity: the new trains, with large windows, allow visitors to fully enjoy the landscapes. You will admire an uninterrupted parade of waterways, mountains and vertiginous gorges.

It is ideal for those travelling with children and young people, who will experience a real adventure: in fact, the train climbs at an altitude of 1,000 metres for 115 km, crossing no less than 16 viaducts, 50 tunnels, 15 metal bridges and many interesting villages. The whole journey takes three hours, but you can get off at any village to visit it and then get back on the next run. The line operates all year round.

The most impressive stops are certainly Saint André les Alpes, to admire the magnificent lake of Castillon,
Annot for a walk in the sandstone, where erosion has moulded a mysterious landscape dotted with hiking trails, and Entrevaux, a medieval town surrounded by ramparts and dominated by a Vauban citadel that is well worth a visit.

For the nostalgic or lovers of vintage atmospheres, the legendary steam train resumes service every year between May and November/December on a section of line between Puget-Théniers and Le Fugeret. A thick smoke precedes the arrival of the locomotive: you can experience a journey back in time on the varnished wooden benches and smells of yesteryear.

Where to stay in Digne-les-Bains

Digne-les-Bains and the Val de Durance offer a wide range of accommodation: charming hotels, quaint B&Bs, campsites, tourist residences, mountain huts.

To fully experience the sparkling city life of Digne-les-Bains, we recommend you locate a hotel in the Rochas district, the heart of the old town, especially in summer, to participate in the numerous lavender-related events. In order to find the best solutions, in conjunction with these events that attract hundreds of tourists, it is advisable to book well in advance.

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How to get to Digne-les-Bains

Digne les Bains is located in the heart of the Alpes de Haute-Provence. To get there by road, you will need to take the A 51 from Marseille (145 km) or the N 202 from Nice (140 km). Digne les Bains is located on the Route Napoléon, which connects Golfe Juan to Grenoble.

If you are travelling by plane, the nearest airports are Marseille Airport (140 km), which can be reached in 1 hour and 30 minutes after hiring a car. Or you could land at Nice airport and continue with a rental car in about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Digne-Les-Bains Weather

What's the weather at Digne-Les-Bains? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Digne-Les-Bains for the next few days.

Friday 14
10°
22°
Saturday 15
13°
24°
Sunday 16
13°
26°
Monday 17
14°
27°
Tuesday 18
16°
30°
Wednesday 19
19°
30°

Where is located Digne-Les-Bains

Digne-les-Bains is located in the heart of the Provençal Alps, about 2½ hours from Nice.

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