Situated in the heart of an inspiring landscape, Digne-les-Bains is undeniably inhabited by multiple curiosities. Prefecture of the Alpes de Haute Provence department, Digne-les-Bains is also known for being the historic capital of the lavender trade. Located on the borders of the Alps and Provence, the city stretches out in a landscape of medium mountains ensuring exceptional environmental quality, dry and pollution-free air. Thus, far from the pollution of large urban centers, Digne-les-Bains has the flowery charm and softness of a medium-sized town that takes care of itself.


View of Digne-les-Bains

From the promenade museum, and from the top of a tuff peak, the view of Digne-les-Bains and the surrounding mountains is breathtaking!

Thermes Digne-les-Bains

Located at the confluence of the Bléone, Mardaric and Eaux Chaudes rivers, the town is distinguished by the beneficial presence of mountain water. For treatment, well-being or physical activity, the city combines the multiple benefits of water. Digne-les-Bains is a Spa enjoying a strong national reputation.
Since ancient times, the presence of hot waters has constituted a natural resource for the city which developed a thermal activity. Flowing at 50° at the exit of the borehole, the water is chloride, sulphate, sodium and calcium. They benefit from significant mineralization whose constant composition is guaranteed by their deep underground origin (870 meters). The waters of Digne-les-Bains are specially recommended for respiratory conditions and rheumatology. Thanks to the quality of the air, the spa is also well suited to welcoming people with asthma.

The breath of water

If since ancient times Digne-les-Bains has been recognized for the presence of its thermal baths, it also has a set of beautiful aquatic facilities dedicated to relaxation and getting back into shape. In the city center, the Hot Waters aquatic complex is open all year round. This covered area, unique in the department, combines sports pools and family play pools, perfect for children. When the sunny days arrive, the terraces open up to offer an original relaxing setting in the city center. Further from the center, on the road to Nice at the entrance to the town, is the Ferréols lake. From the center, you can reach it by bus, car or bike, but also on foot (allow a pleasant quarter of an hour's walk on the banks of the Bléone). On site, you will enjoy catering and beautiful grassy beaches, shaded and supervised in summer.
Once past the lake, the river continues its course and leads us towards the Gaubert lake. The calm atmosphere of the place is conducive to both fishing and wildlife observation. Depending on the season, you can see beavers, moorhens and other gray herons. Taking the time to follow the flow of water by bike, from the city center to Lac de Gaubert is an excellent way to soak up the natural energy of this area.

Natural height

If Digne-les-Bains is a town where it is good to relax in contact with water, it also encourages you to move. Indeed, it would be wrong to resist the call of nature! How can you resist the urge to fill your eyes and lungs with it? On foot, by bike, hanging from paragliders or even clinging to cliffs, all the conditions are there to satisfy the desire to exercise. Solo, with friends, accompanied by professional guides, Digne-les-Bains has a vast choice outdoor activities to recharge your batteries.
Let's start with walking or running. A very pleasant way to get to know the town is to walk around it on the paths that go through the surrounding mountains. From the town centre, you can quickly reach the pine and oak woods and then get to the beautiful sights without difficulty. In particular, Three Chapels, Caguerenard to Oreilles d'ânes trails offer three beautiful viewpoints of the town.
Another impressive, and vertiginous walk is that of the Rocher de Neuf heures which leads us to the foot of the via via ferrata with its cliff more than 100 meters high. Need a little more height? Those who like climbing will quickly find the path that leads to the 80 routes of the Rocher de Courbons. Finally, for those who are a little tired of the cow floor, the discovery of Digne-les-Bains from the vaulted canvas of a paraglider will certainly offer one of the most beautiful views!

Yarrow history

It is easy to imagine that the old center, located in the Rochas district, is the historic seat of the city. Indeed, here dominate the majestic Gothic Cathedral of Saint Jerome, of Gothic architecture and the Clock Tower, topped by one of the most beautiful campaniles in the region. In reality, the city finds its roots a little further north, in the Bourg district. Indeed, it is here that in the 9th century the Cathedral of Notre Dame du Bourg, on the remains of Roman villas. A remarkable Romanesque building, the Cathedral houses a crypt containing a unique collection of Gallo-Roman and Middle Ages archaeological findings.
It was later that the city moved towards Le Rochas, a hill which dominates the old center. In the 11th century, the bishop had his castle built there (on the site of the current prison). Little by little, the population came to take refuge there and, in the 13th century, ramparts were built at the foot of the hill. After the great plague of the 17th century, the city expanded beyond the fortified walls to take its current form. The fortifications are destroyed and few traces of the medieval era will survive all these changes. However, the current restoration of the center is bringing back some very beautiful elements. The Tourist Office offers commented tours of the centre to discover the history of the town.
During the visit to the center, the climb up rue Saint Charles to Saint Jérôme Cathedral will be rewarded with an unparalleled view of the roofs of the city where the late afternoon light covers the facades of the buildings with warmth. dwellings.

Archaeological crypt of Notre Dame du Bourg in Digne les Bains

2000 years of history

Resulting from three excavation campaigns, the Archaeological crypt of Notre-Dame du Bourg reveals traces of construction at the exact location of the origins of the city over 870 m².

In 1980, while long works were underway to save and consolidate the Notre-Dame du Bourg cathedral, a first campaign of archaeological excavations (1987-1988) was necessary inside the building to promote the restoration needs of the religious building. The first discoveries will reveal, among other things, the presence of a large place of worship with traces of its liturgical arrangements whose use continued from the XNUMXth century to the XNUMXth century. These very promising results will inevitably lead to broadening research into two other sectors, outside.
Thus, the first small Christian church from the end of the 4th century to the beginning of the 5th century and the ancient walls of the 1st and 3rd centuries attest to an ancient settlement in the Bourg district.

Cultural explorations

Digne-les-Bains contains many other treasures that can be found within the Gassendi Museum, a French museum founded in 1885. Pierre Gassendi, who gave his name to the Museum, was a humanist and astronomer from Digne. He was the contemporary of the entire scholarly elite of the Age of Enlightenment, including Descartes and Galileo. Under the benevolence of Gassendi, the Museum organized an original museography. Indeed, the public wanders along a porous border where art and science intersect, like its enigmatic hydropitheci.

Contemporary art goes far beyond the boundaries of the Gassendi Museum. It is rooted in the surrounding nature, the beginning of all inspirations. Andy Goldsworthy designed it Refuge d'Art, a flagship work which remembers mountain life which has now disappeared. Other artists, such as Herman de Vries, Richard Nonas, Joan Fontcuberta, Paul-Armand Gette, Jean-Luc Vilmouth, Trevor Gould and Stéphane Bérard, reveal in their own way the relationships that humans can form with their natural environment. All of these works form the mountain art collection from the Gassendi Museum.

Back in Digne-les-Bains, within the walls of the Promenade Museum, new works can be viewed in the exhibition room of the CAIRN (Informal Art Center for Nature Research). Then we will take advantage of the tranquility of the paths to discover the permanent collection installed in the open air. The stroll will end in the museum rooms dedicated to geology. The museography provides an impressive collection of fossils.
The city is a world pioneer in the preservation and enhancement of geological heritage. In the 80s, she saw the birth of the first Geological Nature Reserve of France. In 1991, under the aegis of UNESCO, it became the headquarters of the International Declaration of the Rights of the Memory of the Earth. In 2004, it was the birthplace of very first geopark in the world !

Bedroom of a great Tibetan lama in the house of Alexandra David Neel
François-Xavier Emery

Alexandra David Neel

If Digne-les-Bains is the starting point for many explorations, it is undoubtedly because it is also a city of explorers. The most famous of all is certainly Alexandra David Neel ! A leading figure of orientalism in the 20th century and a committed intellectual, she was notably the first European woman to enter the Forbidden City of Lhasa in 1924. At the end of the 20s, she settled in Digne les Bains. She will baptize her house with the evocative name “Samten Dzong”, a residence for reflection where she will continue her remarkable work. She will keep all the objects, notes, photos and other ethnographic documents from her travels there. Upon her disappearance, the explorer will designate the city as the universal legatee of the house, the copyright and the archives. An invaluable heritage! Thus, the Alexandra David-Neel House will continue a museum activity dedicated to the author, Himalayan and Buddhist culture.

Queen lavender

Digne-les-Bains is a town where the festival is popular by tradition. The summer months are the highlight of all celebrations and lavender is the star. Indeed, the blue strand is omnipresent in Provençal culture. THE Lavender Museum faithfully describes the historical importance of the plant in Haute Provence. The most recognized of the festivals is undoubtedly the Corso de la lavande. Since 1939, this institution has taken place on the first weekend of August. The city then puts on its costume of light and draws visitors and Dignois to the rhythm of parades of flowered floats, brass bands and other marching bands. The big funfair is in full swing!

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