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Le lac de Lauzon dans le parc national des Écrins au cœur des Alpes du Sud

- © Alessandro Cristiano / Shutterstock
Southern Alps
Southern Alps

The Southern Alps include two rural departments, Alpes de Haute-Provence and Hautes-Alpes.

Southern Alps in short

In a nutshell

The Southern Alps comprise two rural départements, Alpes de Haute-Provence and Hautes-Alpes.

The Southern Alps, an unspoilt land, is located in the north of the Provence Alpes Côte-d'Azur region.

These sunny Alps offer visitors a remarkable quality of travel.

The ski resorts here are on a human scale, and nature is never far away!

The two départements boast a record number of protected natural areas!

There are 2 national parks (Mercantour and Écrins) and 4 regional nature parks (Queyras, Baronnies Provençales, Verdon and Luberon).

And in the towns and villages, you'll always receive a warm welcome.

The Southern Alps, a natural treasure

The two departments of the Southern Alps offer a remarkable patchwork of landscapes.

From the lavender-covered lands of Haute-Provence to the snow-capped peaks of the Écrins massif, the difference is enormous.

With peaks topping 4,000 metres, the region is marked by splendid mountain scenery.

But here the sun helps to sustain an extraordinary biodiversity. Nature teems with animal and plant species

There's no better way to observe these extraordinary sites than on the many hiking trails in the Southern Alps.

What's more, you can discover these wonders all year round.

There's nothing to compare between the immaculate white spaces of winter and the green forests and fields under the summer sun!

The snow-capped mountains and glaciers of the Écrins in the Southern Alps

- © Francois Roux / Shutterstock

The Southern Alps in winter or summer!

The Southern Alps can be discovered all year round, that's for sure!

You'll love the local ski resorts, which have nothing to envy the resorts of the Northern Alps.

Some ski destinations are renowned far beyond the region's borders.

Some of the most famous ski resorts include :

  • Serre-Chevalier
  • Vars
  • Risoul

Other ski resorts offer a village atmosphere and a sun-drenched ski area (Ancelle, Ceillac, Seyne les Alpes)...

Traditional winter activities are on offer in the Southern Alps.

Thousands of kilometres of ski runs will take you right up to the Alpine peaks.

You can also try your hand at snowboarding, dog-sledding or snowshoeing.

From late spring onwards, it's all about the pleasure of hiking and discovering nature!

The Southern Alps offer visitors a host of well-maintained trails.

What's more, you'll have the chance to explore a number of protected natural areas!

You'll love the unspoilt areas of the Écrins National Park and the superb Queyras Regional Nature Park.

You can also discover the Southern Alps from a town's point of view!

Some of the most beautiful towns in the Southern Alps include :

  • Sisteron and its remarkable citadel
  • Briançon, the highest town in Europe
  • Gap, the human-sized capital of the Southern Alps

The fantastic setting of Sisteron

- © proslgn / Shutterstock

The Southern Alps, a gastronomy that smells of local produce

While you're here during the summer season, take the opportunity to stroll through the local markets in Haute Provence and the Southern Alps!

Each commune in the Southern Alps has a weekly market where you can sample local produce, some of it organic.

In fact, the region is bursting with good produce. So there's plenty of fruit, vegetables and olive oil for you to enjoy on the spot or back home!

On the savoury side, there's Banon cheese, made from raw goat's milk and wrapped in chestnut leaves before maturing. The result is a soft, creamy cheese with a nutty flavour.

On the sweet side, you'll find delicious blueberry tarts in every resort in the Southern Alps.

Southern Alps blueberry tart

- © Tatiana Volgutova / Shutterstock

If you prefer to sit down to dinner and enjoy 4-star service, then try out the local addresses!

From small local bistros to Michelin-starred restaurants, you'll be spoilt for choice. Regional specialities are often the order of the day!

You'll also find plenty of places to do your shopping and bring back souvenirs from the Southern Alps!

You'll be spoilt for choice at farms, producers' shops and other cooperatives!

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How to get there?

By plane, the Hautes-Alpes and Alpes de Haute-Provence départements are linked to numerous destinations from Marseille-Provence airport.

By train, the SNCF offers TGV services between Paris and Marseille. Then take a TER to Manosque, Sisteron, Gap or Briançon.

By bus, there are several routes linking the main bus stations in the Southern Alps. The main bus stations are Gap, Digne-les-Bains, Manosque and Briançon.

Marseille

✈️ Fly to Marseille!

Marseille airport is served by numerous airlines, often at very competitive prices!
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Where to stay?

All year round, you'll be spoilt for choice across the two departments of the Southern Alps (Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence).

From family campsites to 4* hotels, the accommodation on offer is complete and varied.

The ski resorts come alive from December to March and from May to September.

Always try to book as early as possible, so you can benefit from preferential rates!

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Practical information

👉 The Hautes-Alpes department Key figures :

Surface area: 5 550 km²

Population: 140,000 in 2020

👉 Alpes de Haute-Provence key figures :

Surface area: 6,925 sq km

Population: 165,000 in 2020

Transport

It's not always easy to park your car, whether in town or in the ski resorts during the winter school holidays.

Parking charges apply in some towns and ski resorts.

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

If you want to witness a unique and colourful spectacle, then come and admire the lavender in flower.

This fragrant plant with its beautiful mauve colour blooms in the Southern Alps!

The Plateau de Valensole region in the Alpes de Haute-Provence département is a good place to go. The best time to pick is from mid-June to July.

Useful links
Official Tourism Hautes-Alpes Website

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