“Art de Vivre” in Haute Provence

Haute Provence is a land of flavours and values related to terroir that have to be discovered through gastronomy and folklore. Experience the Provencal “Art de Vivre”! Markets, punctuating the local life, are the ideal place to appreciate the charm of the region. Local producers will tell you about honey, olive oil, goat cheese and even saffron with real passion and enthusiasm. An explosion of colours and smells under the sun shining, as we say here, 360 days a year!

In summer, the large Provencal market on the main square of Digne les Bains sets up its headquarters on the Gassendi boulevard, bordered by secular plane trees, on Saturday morning from the end of June to September. In the many villages nearby, the stalls thrive with a variety of products from the local and diversified agriculture – the organic market of Aiglun is a perfect exemple of this.

In the country of lavender, you will obviously find lavender essence, with multiple and magical properties (wound healing, calming, antiseptic …), soaps, creams, syrups, delicately-flavoured honey, and lavender flower cookies that you ought to taste! In gourmet restaurants, chefs will surprise you with their use of lavender, either in the form of sorbets or as a sauce accompanying a local lamb dish.

Producers will open their doors and offer you the chance to discover in family the world of bees: enjoy a visit to les Ruchers de la Bastide Blanche in Estoublon, Ecosphère in Chanolles or lAtelier Bleu Lavande in Estoublon. La Boîte à Biscuits in Digne les Bains will unveil its manufacturing secrets during workshops and la Savonnerie de l’Eco Logis in Draix, artisan soap maker, will teach you how to make your own soap.

A must in our agriculture: The olive tree, making a fruity oil which cannot be dissociated from the Provencal cuisine accompanying all our dishes. You will be surprised to discover all the varieties of olives seasoned with garlic, chilli and other condiments. The olive oil production will no longer be a secret to you after a visit to the Vieux Moulin in Estoublon where you will be shown the old method of olive oil extraction with the millstones and the old press as well as the current processes.

Not to mention our local specialties: “fougasse” – flat bread with anchovies – small spelt, goat cheeses or even truffles… Taste all our terroir products while enjoying a break in one of our “Bistrots de Pays” or “Pays Gourmands” labelled restaurants. You will be hooked!

Arts and crafts nurture our tradition. Our craftsmen and artists sublimate materials. Clay, in the hands of Patrick Volpes, santon craftsman, transforms itself into the iconic characters of the Christmas season. Wood is reworked by Claude Verchot in pieces of art and the sculptor Benoît de Souza let himself be inspired by geological heritage. Painters fill their canvases with bursting colours of nature catching the light of our picturesque region.

You will have to make choices – difficult ones – or maybe come back and enjoy it all because we take our time here, the time to live, the time to share a good dish, an “apero” among friends at the terrace of a bistro, the time to discover the skills and traditions elsewhere forgotten but still alive here…