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Prefecture building of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department, in Digne-les-Bains
Prefecture building of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department, in Digne-les-Bains
Flag of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
Coat of arms of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
Coat of arms
Location of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in France
Location of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in France
Country France
Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Prefecture Digne-les-Bains
Subprefectures Barcelonnette
 • President of the General Council Gilbert Sauvan (PS)
 • Total 6,925 km2 (2,674 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 160,149
 • Rank 93rd
 • Density 23/km2 (60/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Department number 04
Arrondissements 4
Cantons 30
Communes 200
^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (French pronunciation: ​; Occitan: Aups d'Auta Provença) is a French department in the south of France, it was formerly part of the province of Provence.

Its inhabitants are called the Bas-Alpins or Bas-Alpines referring to the department of Basses-Alpes which was the former name of the department until 13 April 1970.


  • Geography 1
    • Hydrology 1.1
    • Climate 1.2
  • Arrondissements and cantons 2
  • Demographics 3
    • A departmental resort 3.1
    • A very dense and very uneven settlement 3.2
  • History 4
    • Heraldry 4.1
  • Administrative division 5
    • Current Status 5.1
    • Ancient communes and changes to the administrative divisions of the communes 5.2
    • Politics 5.3
  • Economy 6
    • Primary Sector 6.1
    • Industry 6.2
    • Tertiary 6.3
  • Tourism 7
    • Gastronomy 7.1
  • Local media 8
    • Print Media 8.1
    • Local radio 8.2
    • Local TV 8.3
    • Website 8.4
  • Infrastructure 9
    • Road network 9.1
    • Rail network 9.2
  • Notable People associated with the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence Department 10
    • Scientists 10.1
    • Artists 10.2
    • Other historical figures 10.3
    • Sports 10.4
    • Miscellaneous 10.5
  • Learned societies and associations 11
  • Movies and TV films made in the department 12
  • See also 13
  • References 14
  • External links 15


Map of the Department

Bounded in the east by Italy, the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department is surrounded by the departments of Alpes-Maritimes, Var, Vaucluse, Drôme, and Hautes-Alpes. It can be divided into three zones depending on the terrain, climate, population, and economy:

  • the plateaux, hills and valleys of Haute-Provence, which comprise one-third of the area but two thirds of the population and the most important cities of the department with almost all of the economic activity apart from mountain tourism. The valley of the Durance, the artery of the department, cuts the rest of the department into two halves:
    • the Lower Alps: an intermediate mountain area with valleys and very remote villages
    • the High Alps: including the valleys of Ubaye, Blanche, and the high Verdon (upstream of Colmars-les-Alpes) where the economy is built around mountain tourism (skiing). In the Haute-Ubaye, the mountain peaks exceed 3000 m above sea level and all the passes are close to or above 2000 m in altitude. In this part of the department is one of the highest roads in Europe: the main road D64 reaches an altitude of 2802 m near the Col de la Bonette (2715 m) and connects the region of Barcelonnette to the Tinée and Vésubie valleys.

The relief of the land compartmentalises the region: the enclosed valleys are difficult to access so dividing the country into as many local areas which communicate very little with the outside. In 1877, 55 communes only had access to trails or mule paths.[1]

The seismic hazard is moderate (zone 3) to medium (zone 4) with different faults such as the Durance located in the department.[2]

The main cities are Manosque, Digne-les-Bains, Sisteron, Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban, Oraison, Forcalquier, Les Mées, Pierrevert, Villeneuve, Sainte-Tulle, Gréoux-les-Bains, Barcelonnette, and Castellane.


Hydrology and Topography

The main river is the Durance which runs in the west of the department. It is in the Durrance valley that the most important traffic routes are found: the A51 highway and the railway main line. Almost all of the department is in the watershed of the Durance except for the extreme south-east (the cantons of Annot and Entrevaux) which are drained by the Var.

The main tributaries of the Durance in the department are the Ubaye, the Bléone, the Asse, the Verdon on the left bank, the Buëch, the Jabron, and the Largue on the right bank.

The Durance and its tributaries have a torrential character, with a transition between the snow regime of the high valleys and the mediterranean rainfall regime in the lower mountains and below. The summer low water levels are severe and violent floods occur when heavy rains fall which is often in autumn. The Durance, Verdon, Bléone, and Buëch have had the construction of several dams and the diversion of parts of the river for irrigation and power generation in the 20th century.


The climate of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department is a Mediterranean climate degrading by altitude and latitude. In fact, while in the lower valleys and flat lands of Haute-Provence an inland Mediterranean climate prevails, by contrast in the hills it is more mixed with the valley of the Ubaye characteristic of the inner Alps, with a marked continentality: winters are very harsh with stormy summers. In between, the two influences mingle in the area of the Lower Alps. The characteristics of both climate trends are found throughout the department to a greater or lesser extent:

  • dry air and little fog (less than 20 days per year)
  • infrequent rainfall (less than 90 days per year) but heavy (650 to 1500 mm per year)
  • frequent thunderstorms in the mountains in summer
  • High sunshine hours in all seasons (2550 to 2850 hours per year)
  • high thermal amplitudes, diurnal (over 10°C) and annual (18°C)
  • fresh and bright winters
  • very hot summers barely tempered by altitude.

Haute-Provence is therefore very interesting for European astronomers looking for a partly cloudy night sky and untouched by light pollution. Many amateur observatories have been built and the Observatoire de Haute-Provence is one of the largest observatories in continental Europe. It is an active astronomy research centre.

City Sunshine Rain Snow Storm Fog
Hrs/Yr mm/Yr Days/Yr Days/Yr Days/Yr
National Average 1973 770 14 22 40
Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban[3] 2723 736 9 32 6
Paris 1630 642 15 19 13
Nice 2668 767 1 31 1
Strasbourg 1633 610 30 29 65
Brest 1492 1109 9 11 74
Weather Data for Saint-Auban
Climate data for Chateau Arnoux - Saint-Auban
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 4
Average low °C (°F) −0.4
Precipitation mm (inches) 51.8
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 6.6 7.1 6.7 8 8.7 7.5 4.2 4.9 5.3 6.7 6.5 6.2 78.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 155.8 155.8 209.9 225.2 256.7 291.8 343 312.8 250.5 205.4 161.3 154.4 2,722.6
Source: Metereological data for Chareau Arnoux - Saint Auban, from 1961 to 1990 May 2013

Arrondissements and cantons

Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is subdivided into 4 arrondissements, 30 cantons and 200 communes.

Arrondissement Canton # of communes
Barcelonnette Barcelonnette 11
Le Lauzet-Ubaye 5
Castellane Allos-Colmars 6
Annot 7
Castellane 7
Entrevaux 6
Saint-André-les-Alpes 6
Digne-les-Bains Barrême 8
Digne-les-Bains-Est 4
Digne-les-Bains-Ouest 10
La Javie 6
Les Mées 6
Mézel 8
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie 3
Riez 9
Seyne 8
Valensole 4
Forcalquier Banon 9
Forcalquier 10
Manosque-Nord 3
Manosque-Sud-Est 3
Manosque-Sud-Ouest 3
La Motte-du-Caire 13
Noyers-sur-Jabron 7
Peyruis 4
Reillanne 8
Saint-Étienne-les-Orgues 8
Sisteron 5
Turriers 7
Volonne 9


The population was once fairly evenly distributed in the territory, including in the mountainous areas where mountain agriculture was well developed. From the middle of the 19th century, however, it began to decline due to a strong rural exodus. There were more than 150,000 inhabitants in 1850 but it fell to less than 100,000 after the First World War. It was not until 1960 that the trend changed upwards quite strongly from less than 90,000 in 1954 to nearly 140,000 in 1999 and 153,000 in 2005. However, if this figure is close to the number of inhabitants had department 150 years earlier, the distribution and activity of the population are very different. The population is now concentrated in the valley of the Durance and the South West of the department, and agriculture employs less than ever before. Services, mainly tourism and local services, is now the main industry.

The department has never really developed: in 1870 there were 27 small mines (one lead, four oil shale and 22 lignite).[4]

A departmental resort

According to the general census of the population, 32.8% of available housing in the department are second homes.

A very dense and very uneven settlement

The department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is one of the least densely populated of France with barely more than 20 inhabitants per km2. The population is concentrated mainly in the valleys of the Durance, the Bléone (up to Digne) and the nearby flat lands. The rest of the department is sparsely populated (less than 10 inhabitants per km2 over most of the territory).

Half of the Communes have less than 200 inhabitants, 17 communes have less than 50 and many villages have been abandoned. The towns are small: only Digne-les-Bains and Manosque approach or exceed 20,000 people. The arrondissements of Barcelonnette and Castellane are the two least populated arrondissements in France and the only ones in France with less than 10,000 inhabitants. The city of Castellane is the smallest sub-prefecture in France.

Among the 30 cantons in the department, 11 have a resident population of less than 2,000 inhabitants and six others have a population between 2,000 and 3,000 inhabitants. Only five have more than 10,000 inhabitants: Digne Ouest, Forcalquier, Manosque Nord, Manosque Sud Ouest, and Volonne.

The ten most populous communes are[5] (figures for 2010 and population change from 2009):

Town Pop. Incr./Decr.
Manosque 22,105 Decrease
Digne-les-Bains 16,922 Decrease
Sisteron 7,450 Increase
Oraison 5,392 Increase
Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban 5,266 Decrease
Forcalquier 4,680 Increase
Pierrevert 3,682 Increase
Les Mées 3,630 Decrease
Villeneuve 3,514 Increase
Sainte-Tulle 3,344 Increase

In contrast, the two towns with less than 20 inhabitants according to the latest census: Archail (17 inhab.) and Majastres are isolated from main roads.


Nord-de-Provence was one of the 83 original departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790 under the Act of 22 December 1789. It was renamed Haute-Provence then Basses-Alpes.

On 12 August 1793, the department of Vaucluse was created from parts of the departments of Bouches-du-Rhône, Drôme, and Basses-Alpes. Basses-Alpes lost the canton of Sault to Vaucluse at this point. Seventeen years later, in 1810, the canton of Barcillonnette was transferred over to Hautes-Alpes.

The department of Basses-Alpes was occupied by fascist Italy from November 1942 to September 1943.[6]

On 13 April 1970, the department of Basses-Alpes was renamed Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.

Here is an unflattering excerpt from an article called "Basse Alpes" from the Atlas Larousse published at the beginning of the 20th century:

"Scattered whitish rocks stand out like bones, a thin topsoil where bushes languish, some mountain flowers and stunted trees ... these mountains form almost everywhere a dreadful desert which will not have more inhabitants: this is the Sahara without the sun of Africa, with the snows of Siberia." (P. Joanne).

On these steep slopes deforestation and flooding have resulted in a lack of fertile soil and agriculture has been the most miserable. There is a small harvest of wheat, wine in small quantities (but good), and truffles in large numbers. In the southern part, which has the climate of Provence, there are olive trees, mulberry trees, and orange trees. Aromatic plants abound, and there are 250,000 beehives. Manosque because its location is by far the second largest city of the department (with 5,500 inhabitants). Near Manosque are the lignite and gypsum mines. Despite a fairly active trade in olive oil, wine and raw silk, this department is also one of the least populated. (Larousse Illustrated Atlas, Printing Larousse, Paris, 1900).


Arms of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

Azure, a fleur de lys of Or surmounted by a Label of three points gules all over a terrace in base argent indented of three points.

Administrative division

Current Status

A total of 200 communes and 30 cantons.

Ancient communes and changes to the administrative divisions of the communes

The rural exodus of the 19th and 20th centuries has had a significant impact on the population of towns: some were completely or almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants which led to the disappearance of fifty communes since the creation of the department. Some villages still exist and sometimes gave their name to a new commune created by mergers (e.g. La Mure-Argens) and others are nothing more than a pile of stones (like Levens in the commune of Majastres). They are sometimes listed on maps (e.g. Bédejun in the commune of Chaudon-Norante). At its formation, the department had 270 communes (262 after changing the limits of the department) but it is now 200. Apart from eight communes which were attached either to Hautes-Alpes (the three communes of the Barcillonnette canton, or to Vaucluse (the canton of Sault) many communes have di)sappeared.

In 1854, the state of communes in the department was as follows:[7]

in total 256 towns and 30 townships.

Special cases of mergers and changes in municipal boundaries
  • some communes have chosen a name without historical connection, e.g. Val-de-Chalvagne formed by the merger of three communes (Castellet-Saint-Cassian, Montblanc and Villevieille)
  • some communes have absorbed a large number of others - such was the case of Digne and Castellane with seven towns merged: Villars-Brandis, Taloire, Eoulx, Taulane, Chasteuil, and Castillon when creating the namesake

Also some other noteworthy atypical cases:

There are still some cases of communal associations since 1973 (some have also gone more or less quickly in favour of a "simple aggregation"). For example La Mure-Argens with Argens enjoying this status (with the Mayor delegated specifically for Argens, a city hall annex and an electoral district).


The department has an electoral tradition markedly old left. There are strong republican traditions such as the number of Political clubs during the Sainte-Tulle also supplied many activists to leftist organizations.

Exceptions in the department: the alpine areas of Barcelonnette and the upper valley of the Verdon, both territories of emigration but also with a garrison of Chasseurs Alpins in the first. These areas, deeply Catholic, have long opted for elected conservatives - one of the most famous being the former Minister of the Third Republic, Paul Reynaud. A definition of the political choices of the county population is often translated as: the higher the altitude rises, the more the popular vote looks to the right.

Since the end of the First World War the department has been most often depicted, both by the Senate and the National Assembly, as an electoral issue of either the PCF or, especially, the socialist movement - the SFIO or the PS, or by the radical left.

A landmark of the Resistance during the Second World War, at Liberation the department deeply changed is roots to the left, a change that has not really been challenged since. A change, which may be temporary however, was recorded in 2007 when, for the first time in local political history, a right-wing deputy elected in the previous election (in 2002) was re-elected to the National Assembly.

The other seat is occupied by the President of the General Council, Jean-Louis Bianco, a former Minister with François Mitterrand.

In the Senate, the Department is represented by Claude Domeizel, a former Socialist mayor of Volx.

François Mitterrand won the majority of votes of the inhabitants of the department in 1974, 1981, and 1988 although in the last two cases it was 53% of the vote. In 1995, Jacques Chirac was leading the second round of the presidential election with just over 52% but less than the national score. In 2002 it was Jean Marie Le Pen who topped the first round. Finally, in 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy, who reached the top in the first round, with nearly 30% of the votes, gained 53.2% in the second round.

In European referendums, the department has voted "No" during the consultation on the Maastricht Treaty at 51.6% (majority of 2238 votes) and "No" during the consultation on the European Constitutional Treaty at 60.3% (majority 16,575 votes).

The President of the General Council is the Socialist Jean-Louis Bianco.

Party seats
Socialist Party 12
Miscellaneous Left 6
Miscellaneous Right 6
French Communist Party 3
Citizen and Republican Movement 1
Union for a Popular Movement 2


The department has, by its own characteristics (mountainous and low population), a character marked by a relatively weak industrial base and a move towards the creation of jobs in the areas of trades and services.

Thus, according to the survey on labour needs by ASSEDIC, most of the jobs available are now from the professions of sociocultural and sports activities (1031 offers listed out of 4752 total in the department), hotel (968 offers), cleaning (438 offers), catering (345 offers).

Of all these offers at least three quarters were for seasonal jobs.

However, significant changes in the sociological situation of the department are to be expected from the implementation of the ITER project at the mouth of the Durance valley.

Primary Sector

In the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department agriculture has had a very important place in the economy but the food-producing polyculture has given way to a much more specialized agriculture oriented around fruit, cereals and high value added products (honey, perfumes, and essential oils, cosmetics, olives, and wine).

The cultivated species are temperate species, especially those at higher altitude, and Mediterranean species at low altitude. The production is of a wide variety. In recent years, an increase in the cultivation of lavender has emerged, particularly in the area of Saint-André-les-Alpes.

The utilised agricultural area is 165,809 hectares mostly devoted to farming activities such as grass meadows for over 96,000 hectares.

According to the agricultural census of 2000, the department has 2,947 farms, more than the 1,500 farms under the previous census carried out twelve years previously. The average farm size has increased from 32 to 56 hectares.

This is an area of arboriculture particularly along the Durance, which is the main farming area in terms of number of farms (829 in total).

It is followed by the crop sector (mostly grain) with 740 farms with the rest in the livestock sector.

One of the characteristics of the department is that there are 614 farms devoted to breeding animals other than cattle. These are for the breeding of sheep and goats, including the production of milk used for cheese making under Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) for Banon cheese.

The winemakers of Pierrevert also have an appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) ranking for their production.

The Alpes de Hautes-Provence department is a region where 49.1% of the area is forested or 343,691 hectares, with an average rate of 39.4% for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.[8] The National Office of Forests (ONF) manages 86,000 hectares. The main species exploited are Scots pine, black pine, larch, pubescent oak (or white oak), and beech. Fir and spruce are less common.[9] The 2003 heat wave caused the decline of many species of trees, consequently accelerating the return of Mediterranean oaks, alders and linden.[10]


Industry is relatively small in terms of business establishments but has several relatively large companies.

At the end of 2004 the department had 937 establishments with 17 exceeding fifty employees.

This is particularly the case of the historic plant at Saint-Auban (the Arkema factory formerly Elf-Atochem), the Sanofi of Sisteron factory (north of Saint-Auban), and Manosque (L'Occitane factory). Some more specialized factories (olive oil, perfumes, wines) produce products with high added value.

At the end of 2006, according to ASSEDIC data, the industrial sector employed 4,261 employees in the department, or a little over 14% of private sector employees.

In the Chemistry sub-sector there are 1,761 employees and agribusiness has 1,205 employees: these are the two main divisions.

The chemical sector includes segments of: pharmacy (Sanofi factory, cited above, with more than 650 employees), basic chemistry (Arkema factory, with more than 500 employees), and cosmetics with more than 450 people.

The industrial sector has lost nearly 400 jobs since 2001 particularly from downsizing at Arkema and despite the good financial health of Total S.A. which owns it. This may change with the implementation of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).

The Building sector and public works account for 1,387 active establishments with more than half (758) institutions without any employees (artisans established their behalf). In late 2006, the sector employed more than 3,900 employees including nearly 1,500 in the public works sector particularly driven by the completion of major infrastructure (motorway A51 and others).


After the depopulation caused by the rural exodus, the department pioneered agritourism in the 1950s although it is no longer the leader in France in this field. Approximately 120 farms offer tourist activities (accommodation, catering or leisure),[11] with 70 certified.[12]

The tertiary sector includes very different enterpriises.

Commercial activities have undergone considerable change, and had in 2004 2,473 establishments but with 1,396 (over 56%) with no employees.

In late 2006, however, this sector employed 6,478 people in more than 1,000 establishments. Employee headcounts have risen sharply since 2001 as there have been a total of 627 additional jobs (more than 10% of the workforce) since that date.

The number of employees is about 22% of the workforce employed in the private sector.

This has resulted from the development, particularly in the cities of Manosque and Digne, of major retail shopping areas. Nearly 1,600 employees in the services sector are employed there.

Service activities cover a total of 7,322 institutions in late 2004 with 4,323 (over 59%) with no employees.

It is this sector, however which has the largest number of establishments with more than 50 employees - 96 establishments.

At the end of 2006, this sector employed, among others, 1,141 employees in the transport sector, 3,425 employeees in business services, and more than 4,000 in the field of services to individuals.

These sectors are evolving and increasing their activities.

The positive migration flow for the department often originates from the arrival of retired households, due in particular to the significant increase in numbers of elderly and home care services.

The transport sector created sixty additional jobs but it was especially the service sector enterprises and service to individuals (e.g. health and social activity) experienced a dramatic and significant growth.

The health sector has substantially increased its importance in the economy with over a thousand more jobs, especially in the segments of short-term caregiving and maintenance, with nearly 850 related jobs.

This is largely explained by the fact that the major industrial companies in the department, such as companies in the construction sector, use temporary workers, instead of hiring full-time.

In the canton of Volonne, where Saint-Auban is, the reduction in industrial jobs (160 jobs lost on the Arkema work site) is partially offset by the increase in temporary employment (100 additional jobs ).

Similarly, in Manosque, the first city of the department in terms of employment, and sustainable development (2,000 more jobs in five years), the increase in temporary jobs has been spectacular - reaching 400 jobs. These jobs are in, among other things, the cosmetics industry, the construction industry and public works, and retail. Large retail chains in the city prefer this mode of hiring to permanent staff.

In the field of health and social activities, there has been significant job creation also with 760 more jobs, bringing to 13% the share of employees in the sector in terms of total private employment. This increase is particularly in hospitality and accommodation with nearly a thousand employees, an increase of about 150 jobs since 2001, while the area of home care now employs 741 employees instead of 457 five years earlier.

Finally, note that voluntary work, with nearly 1,000 jobs offered, is also present in the department.


The beautiful scenery provides the background to many activities and sights. Eleven villages have been classified as having special architectural character. In particular there are:

In summer many aerial sports use the surrounding mountains such as gliding, hang gliding and paragliding. In winter there is extensive skiing at eleven ski resorts.


Famous dishes from the commune:

Local media

Print Media

Daily newspapers: La Provence, le Dauphine Libere, and La Marseillaise. All three have a local edition.

Weekly Newspaper: Haute Provence info

Free Newspapers: JYVAIS04.COM free bimonthly journal. Cultural information and portraits of artists of the department. This free magazine was created by Véronique Basso, director of publication and Philippe Robert, webmaster (see website)

Local radio

  • Alpes 1 (based at Gap, Hautes-Alpes), transmits to the regions of Digne-les-Bains, Sisteron, Barcelonnette and Allos
  • Durance FM (based at Reillane), transmits in the regions of Manosque, Digne-les-Bains, and Sisteron
  • Fréquence Mistral (based in Manosque), transmits in the regions of Manosque, Digne-les-Bains, Sisteron, and Castellane
  • Grimaldi FM (based in Puget-Théniers (Alpes-Martimes)) transmits to the cantons of Annot and Entrevaux
  • Là la radio (based at Gap (Hautes-Alpes)) transmits to the regions of Allos, Barcelonnette, and Colmars-les-Alpes
  • Radio Oxygène (based in Fréjus (Var)), transmits in the regions of Barcelonnette and Val d'Allos;
  • Radio Star (based in Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône)), transmits in the regions of Manosque, Digne-les-Bains, and Sisteron
  • Radio Verdon (based in Saint-Julien-le-Montagnier (Var)), transmits to the regions of Manosque and Castellane
  • Radio Zinzine (based at Limans), funded by the Longo Maï cooperative, transmits to the areas of Manosque, Digne-les-Bains, Sisteron, and Forcalquier.

Local TV

  • Télévision Locale Provence (TLP) is available through TNT channel 30 in the area of Manosque and Val de Durance, by satellite in the FRANSAT package, by Internet on ADSL Orange, SFR/Neuf, Numéricâble in Avignon and its region (soon to be Free)


  • This free cultural news site was launched in January 2011. There are more than 200 cultural events in the department every week.

A free bimonthly magazine is associated with the website providing close-ups of artists and events in the region. Distributed to 4,000 copies in town halls, tourist offices and shops, it is to this day the strongest support media for the department.


Road network

Many roads in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence are narrow and winding due to terrain. These natural conditions make access to certain parts of the department rather difficult, especially in winter, and particularly the communes in the Arrondissements of Barcelonnette and Castellane. They are therefore quite isolated from the rest of the department and the region.

National Highway N85 between Digne-les-Bains and Castellane passes through several narrow gorges including that of Taulanne which is especially narrow.

Rail network

There are several railway lines in Alpes de Haute-Provence. These are:

  • the Chemins de Fer de Provence line (known as the Train des pignes) from Nice - Digne
  • two lines of the SNCF:
    • the Lyon-Perrache - Marseille-Saint-Charles (via Grenoble) line
    • the Saint-Auban - Digne line (service provided by coaches) is now abandoned. It formed the junction between the Train des Pignes and the Lyon-Marseille lines. A project to reopen the line is being studied and included in the planning between the State and Region.

Old abandoned lines:

  • the Volx - Forcalquier line
  • the Volx - Cavaillon line
  • the Chorges - Barcelonnette line (never opened)

Notable People associated with the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence Department


  • Pierre Gassendi (1592 at Champtercier - 1655), mathematician, philosopher, theologian and astronomer.
  • Jean Solome (1674-1752), historian from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
  • Prior Laurensi (1719-1808), historian.
  • Jean Marc Gaspard Itard (1774 at Oraison - 1838), a famous doctor for his work on the case of the Feral child, Victor of Aveyron, and pioneer of the ear, nose and throat speciality
  • Jean Aimé Édouard de Laplane (1774-1870), historian from Sisteron
  • Simon-Jude Honnorat (1783 at Allos - 1852), physician, naturalist, regional linguist
  • Elzéard Gras-Bourget (1788-1860) Judge and historian
  • Father Jean-Joseph-Maxime Feraud (1810 at Riez - 1897), historian
  • Alphonse Eugene Beau called Beau de Rochas (1815 at Digne-les-Bains - 1893) thermodynamics engineer, inventor of the four-stroke engine, and turbine engine
  • Dr. Antoine Ollivier (1823 - ?), a medical doctor and archaeologist from Ubaye
  • Jean-Esprit Pellissier (1831 at Allos - 1905), historian
  • François Arnaud (1843-1908), mountaineer, politician, lawyer, geographer and linguist from Ubaye.
  • Raymond Collier (1921-2000), director of the Departmental Archives of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
  • Lucienne Roubin (1924 in Upper Verdon - 1999), sociologist and historian.
  • Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (1932-2007), Nobel prize in physics in 1991. Spent his childhood in Barcelonnette


  • Eugene Martel (1869 at Revest-du-Bion - 1947)
  • Raoul Dufy (1877-1953 at Forcalquier)
  • Serge Fiorio (1911-2011), born in Switzerland, died at Viens, Vaucluse, he settled in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in 1947
  • Paul Martin (1830-1903) and his son Étienne Martin (1856-1945). Naturalist painters and botanists
Singers / Musicians
Fictional Characters

Other historical figures

Political and financial


Motor Sports
  • Jean Rolland (1935 at Digne - 1967), racing driver
  • Jean-Michel Bayle (1969 at Manosque - ) motocross champion
  • Mickael Maschio (1973 at Digne - ), French motocross driver
  • René Gallice (1919 at Forcalquier - 1999), former professional soccer player
  • Alain Boghossian (1970 at Digne - ), former professional soccer player, world champion in 1998, assistant coach of the French football team since 2008.
Rugby Players
  • Grégory Bernard, (1984 at Digne - ), second line at Auch
Philosophers, poets, writers


People in the news
  • Jack Cecil Drummond (1891-1952), assassinated at Lurs with his wife and daughter which triggered the Dominici affair

The families Simiane, Agoult, and Ponteves, nobles of Provence

Learned societies and associations

  • Société scientifique et littéraire des Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, founded in 1878 by Father Jean-Joseph-Maxime Feraud
  • Alpes de Lumière, a nonprofit organization founded in 1953 by Pierre Martel and state-approved
  • Proserpine,[14] a non-profit association founded in 1993 in order to know and protect the butterflies of Haute-Provence. Manages the butterfly garden (insects release) at Digne-les-Bains.
  • Sabença de la Valeia is a learned society from the Ubaye Valley. It researches, studies and disseminates everything about the valley.

Movies and TV films made in the department

(TV films in Italics)

See also


  1. ^ Raymond Collier, Haute-Provence monumental and artistic, Digne, Imprimerie Louis Jean, 1986, 559 p., p 420 (French)
  2. ^ Decree on seismic risk in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, 2010 (French)
  3. ^ Data from the Station at Chateau Arnoux - Saint-Auban, sources:l'Internaute, INSEE and
  4. ^ Irène Magnaudeix, Sitting Stone, Moving Stone: usage and representation of stone by the inhabitants of Haut-Vançon, Mane, Les Alpes de Lumière, Forcalquier, 2004. ISBN 978-2-906162-73-0, p 124 (French)
  5. ^ INSEE 2010
  6. ^ Stéphane Simonnet, Atlas of the Libération of France, Autrement, Paris, 1994, reprinted 2004, (ISBN 2-7467-0495-1), p 60, (French)
  7. ^ Dictionary of Sacred and Ecclesiastical GeographyEncyclopédies théologiques published by M. l'abbé Jacques-Paul Migne, 1854, éditeur de la bibliothèque universelle du clergé (French)
  8. ^ Forest Inventory for Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (French)
  9. ^ Lilian Micas, Actual Changes in a forest area, Verdons, no 26-27, December 2008, p. 117 (French)
  10. ^ Lilian Micas, Actual Changes in a forest area, Verdons, no 26-27, December 2008, p. 123.
  11. ^ Aurélie Volle, Agritourism and biological productions in AHP, indicaters of reinvigoration of campaigns?, Méditerranée, 107/2006, p 67 (French)
  12. ^ Aurélie Volle, Agritourism and biological productions in AHP, indicaters of reinvigoration of campaigns?, Méditerranée, 107/2006, p. 68.
  13. ^ Jean-Robert Pitte, Alpine Delicacies, Pigs and Piglets: the quest for pure fat, L’Alpe No. 42, Autumn 2008, p 8 (French)
  14. ^ The Garden of Butterflies (French)

External links

  • Alpes-de-Haute-Provence at DMOZ
  • (French) Conseil général website
  • Abbeys in the Alps (fr. with translator)
  • (French) Prefecture website
  • (English) Préfecture web-site in English
  • (French) SPLAF Detailed information in French
  • Sisteron guide
  • (French) Department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04) The accounts of the Communes and groupings: - Individual and Consolidated data "Principle Budget and annexes"
  • (French) Website for Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Basses-Alpes, well documented and illustrated (anecdotes, personalities)
  • (French) Robbery in the Basses-Alpes..., by Abbot Maurel (1899). Text online.
  • (French) The Plague of 1720 in the Basses-Alpes, by Abbot Maurel (1908). Text online.
  • (French) Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
  • (French) Visit to the Valley of La Blanche, Seyne-les-Alpes and nearby villages
  • (French) The Alps of Hautes Provences, Mural Paintings from the 11th to the 16th centuries
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