Welcome in UNESCO Geopark of Haute Provence ! Explore the Carboniferous rainforest. Dive into seas populated by strange creatures from the Secondary and Tertiary eras. Go back to the traces of the Quaternary glaciations and observe how these different periods have shaped the landscape of today.

Geopark is the label awarded by UNESCO to a territory for its remarkable geological, cultural, natural and intangible heritage. the Geopark of Haute Provence was the very first to to be created in 2000. . Today, 177 geoparks exist around the world. Immerse yourself in a journey through time: 300 million years of Earth history.

One day the sea receded...

The whole landscape that surrounds you here was once submerged by the sea. The land under your feet… was then only a carpeted seabed ammonites, inhabited by colossal sea creatures like the ichthyosaurs… With the formation of the Alps, through the action of tectonic forces, this sea retreated, giving way to fabulous landscapes that geologists around the world covet.

Located in the heart of the UNESCO Geopark of Haute Provence, the Bes Valley like no other. In its center, crosses the Bes, this river that wants to be a torrent. The Bès has cut into the clayey and sandy rocks, sculpting the limestone strata for a million years. Along its course from the hamlet of Couloubroux to Digne-les-Bains, it crosses past tropical environments, 300 million years old, seabed rich in fossils, tectonic collisions.

The documentary film "One day the sea retired..." recounts this long story, where fossil ferns rub shoulders with ammonites, where rocky levels collide and overlap, before a simple stream cuts through these mineral layers. to reveal to humans that we are a distant past.

A huge territory

Of the 67 cities of the Alpes de Haute Provence over which the Geopark extends, the diversity is striking. The different types of rocks, inherited from the region's geological past, give characteristic colors to the landscapes of Haute Provence: the gullies formed by the erosion of black marls, the Clues formed by Jurassic limestone rocks, the red traces left by gypsum deposits...

The Geopark also lists many fossil sites, such as the Ammonite slab concentrating 1.500 fossils of ammonites, nautiluses or pentacrines on 320 m² at the exit of Digne les Bains (direction Barles): unique in the world and envied by the Japanese to such an extent that a molding is exhibited in the town of Kamaïshi!

Among the essentials, the Ichthyosaurs of La Robine and Canolles 185 and 107 million years old respectively are accessible by hiking trails. The Haute Provence Geological Nature Reserve is responsible for their preservation. The collection of fossils is prohibited within its perimeter of protection.

The Haute Provence Geopark invites you to discover its natural and human history and its traditions. The Provençal language, customs and local products are part of the heritage of the Geopark, as well as contemporary art. Land of inspiration, artists like Andy Goldsworthy choose the Geopark to create original works in connection with nature.

5 routes to discover all the diversity of the Geopark

5 discovery routes cross the emblematic and historic places of Haute-Provence and its sumptuous landscapes. Browse the interactive map or download our discovery map to prepare your visit independently.

Each of these routes has its own theme. They can be covered by car in one day (apart from walks), departing from Digne-les-Bains or Sisteron. More than 130 developed sites are to be discovered. You will meet the inhabitants of this country, partners of the UNESCO Geopark: restaurateurs, hosts, craftsmen or producers, proud of their land and their passion.

The treasures of the Haute Provence Geopark are everywhere, don't wait any longer to meet them! Your journey through time will begin at Promenade Museum by exploring the themed trails and exhibition halls.