Local Interest

There is lots to do in the area; exploring the medieval streets of the local towns and villages, visiting the famous Provençal attractions (Aix en Provence and the Verdon Gorge are just over an hour away), participation in a huge array of sports (see sports section), or just relaxing by the local lakes and rivers.

We can provide information on sightseeing in the area; museums, the geological reserve, Lavender routes, animal park, historic towns, etc, etc and are on hand to advise you which might be the most suitable for your party. We would also be happy to recommend and book activities or restaurants for you (we remember how scary it was to make a phone call with only very rusty school French!).

Local Towns and villages


Ribiers is just a short walk or cycle ride away (2 km), and is a typical Provençal village with local shops, a boulangerie /patisserie for fresh bread and croissants (and cakes) and an excellent Restaurant serving everything from Pizzas to steaks. There are lanes to explore, in between enjoying a coffee or even better, a Pastis or beer, in one the shaded bars by the fountain in the main square. Ribiers also has a large open air life-guarded pool/plan d'eau open in July & August and of course the mandatory boules pitch with weekly competitions in summer.


Sisteron the old Citadel perched above the town guarding the way  into and out of ProvenceSisteron the old Citadel perched above the town guarding the way into and out of Provence
Sisteron town (9 km) has a dramatic setting, - the rock faces on both sides of the river made it a perfect place to defend the old route into, and out of, Provence. The main fort, open to the public, is known as the "citadel" and is set high on the rock above the medieval streets, which have some lovely restaurants, shops, and a food market twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There is also a cathedral and museum as well as regular exhibitions in the local bibliothèque. The town organises lots of events throughout the summer months; fetes, specialist markets, such as pottery and "brocante" (antique and Bric-a-brac), fairs, boules contests and open air concerts and performances in the dramatic setting of the Citadel. Sisteron has its own Plan d'eau, life-guarded, with nearby tennis, skate park, basketball and sun-bathing areas beside the river, nearby there is also a large sports hall/leisure complex under construction which should be completed by summer 2002.


Laragne town (7 km) is less of a tourist town than Sisteron, but everyone seems to love the genuine, local French feel of the town, especially the Thursday morning market which sells a fantastic array of local produce, clothes, plants, gifts, and just about everything you can think of!, not forgetting of course the local goat and sheep cheeses for which the area is famed. There are also two supermarkets and an excellent array of bars and cafés


Gap (40 min drive) is the local county town and whilst not large has all the local amenities, theatre, indoor pool, shopping, restaurants, Irish Bar (with real stout). Being the county town it is always bustling and worth a visit just to sample the local ambiance. Gap is set in a magnificent amphitheatre of mountains and is at the entrance to the Ecrins national park to the North, the Ecrins is the second highest massif in France after Mont Blanc, reaching 4000m, but unlike Mont Blanc is almost devoid of habitations, it is still possible to walk for days on deserted paths between scattered refuges.

Relaxing locally

The Meouge gorge, favourite river swimming spot some 2km from the house
The Meouge gorge, favourite river swimming spot some 2km from the house
Just 5 km up the road, is the beautiful Meouge gorge nature reserve, with lovely swimming spots, waterfalls, and lots of footpaths to explore. There are also numerous swimming lakes, known as "plan d"eau" or the "beaches of the mountains", the nearest being at Ribiers, in the local area. They are all life guarded and provide a safe, clean beach and swimming area, ideal for children. Even better, many have free entry.

Active Interests

The stunning and varied scenery, with endless paths and tracks, attracts walkers, cyclists and horse riders, while climbers are drawn here by the vast areas of limestone cliffs with all levels of difficulty and protection. Those who love the sky come here for the combination of fantastic climate, together with wonderful, yet accessible mountains. Last but not least the incredible meteorological conditions of the area make it a mecca for air sports practitioners from all over Europe. Paragliders, hang gliders, sailplane, microlight, and small aircraft pilots as well as parachutists all regard the area as one of the best in Europe when it comes to reliability weather and facilities. See Sports section for more details.


Looking down at the house and the Buech river from the ridge walk behindLooking down at the house and the Buech river from the ridge walk behind
There are miles of walking and cycling routes, either in the hills and forests behind the house, or more gentle routes, winding between villages, along lanes and tracks on the flatter valley bottom. By traveling quietly through the countryside, you are most likely to catch a glimpse of deer or wild boar, which abound in the area. The more adventurous can visit the Ecrins or Alps to the North and East, in search of wolves.You will find the area completely welcoming to cyclists and walkers - a refreshing change to the UK. You are free to walk or cycle on all routes unless otherwise indicated, and there are lots of signed routes in the area to help you on your way.

... and Cycling

The mountain bike trails (over 1000km of marked trails in the local Vallée de Buech area alone) are generally graded from green to black in much the same way as ski runs. Green are ideal for family outings, blue for competent riders, whilst reds are "sportif". Blacks are reserved for the super fit, or the super crazy!
Bike hire - we have a couple of bikes that guests are welcome to borrow; bike hire is also available at the Plan d'eau approx 15 mins away and in other local outlets.

The huge area of forest and mountain directly behind the house has a network of paths and tracks. There are wooden sign posts at many of the path junctions, which is a great help to navigation. The signs often give walking time to the next feature in the direction you are going. The times given (unlike those given in UK guides) are walking times assuming a brisk pace with no prolonged stops. If you enjoy a more relaxed pace, with the odd pause for photography, looking at flowers, or a picnic, it is important to add on time to the estimate as appropriate.

Other Activities and Interests

The area is also renowned for its quality of light and clean air and therefore known as a particularly fine location for photographic or painting holidays. The subject matter is limitless from dramatic landscape to the colourful contrasts of lavender fields and sunflower crops and the charm of old villages and their inhabitants.

In spring in particular the area is home to migratory bird species including the Harriers often seen around the house at this time of year. As well as the array of longer term visitors from Grebe to Kites, are the more permanent but no less interesting resident species. Nearby are the recently augmented Vulture colonies where successive re-introductions and breeding programs have lead to a now healthy population.