Haute Provence has always been a territory marked by the presence of water. Millions of years ago, the entire region was submerged under the sea. The many fossils of marine animals (ammonites, ichthyosaurs etc.) bear witness to this! Today, the lagoons have disappeared, but water is still largely present. Torrents, rivers and lakes shape our landscape. It is not uncommon to discover gorges and majestic water gaps at the bend of a road or a path. Over time, the water has carved out its bed and shaped the features characteristic of the region.
In the heart of Haute Provence, Digne-les-Bains is situated at the confluence of three rivers and valleys – the Bléone, Mardaric and Eaux Chaudes. It is from this last valley that thermal waters have sprung forth since antiquity.
Today, the thermal spa is supplied with its thermal water through the 870m deep Ophelia borehole. The water is rich in chlorides, sulphates, sulphur, sodium and calcium. This mineral-rich water is the subject of the three-week long thermal ‘cures’ for rheumatological and respiratory/ENT problems. Mini ‘thermal cure’ packages, as well as a wellness area, also exist for those who would like to experience the virtues of the thermal water.
Downstream from the Verdon Gorges, the Sainte-Croix Lake bears witness to the importance of water in the area. Its hydroelectric dam holds 767 million cubic metres of water and forms the second largest artificial lake in France in terms of surface area.
It is also not uncommon to witness the ballet of the Super Scoopers in the air – the impressive water bombers that suppress fires during the summer.
The Serre-Ponçon Lake, cousin to the Sainte-Croix Lake in the south, lies in the north beyond the Blanche valley. These two expanses of water have made possible an infinite variety of water sports and leisure activities: pedal boats, sailing, paddle boards, electric boats… plenty to choose from!
For thrill seekers, many canyons and ravines are equipped for canyoning or aqua trekking!
Go for a dip in the Clues de Barles (Barles water gap), the Ferréols Lake in Digne, the summer swimming pool in Saint-Auban or the Sainte-Croix Lake in the south. Splashes guaranteed for the young and old!