UNESCO Geopark of Haute Provence
Welcome to the UNESCO Geopark of Haute Provence! Geoparks are UNESCO-labelled territories for their outstanding geological, cultural, natural and intangible heritage. There are a hundred Geoparks all over the world. The Geopark of Haute Provence was the first ever created in 2000. You will embark on a journey through 300 million years of Earth history.
From the carboniferous tropical forest – including the seas populated by strange creatures from the secondary and tertiary era – to the traces of preceding glaciations dating back to the quaternary period, these different ages have shaped the landscapes we can see today.
Among the 60 municipalities which are part of the Geopark area, the diversity is striking. The different types of rocks, inherited from the geological past of the region, give the Haute Provence landscapes its characteristic colours: the “robines” formed by the erosion of black marls, the “clues” formed by the limestone rocks from the Jurassic age, the red traces left by gypsum deposits…
The Geopark encompasses many fossils sites, as the Ammonites slab, covering a surface of 320 m² at the exit of Digne les Bains (towards Barles). Gathering 1.500 fossils of ammonites, nautilus and pentacrines, it is unique in the world and envied by the Japanese to such an extent that a real-size copy of the slab is exhibited in the city of Kamaishi!
Among the highlights are the ichthyosaurs: located in la Robine and Chanolles, they are accessible by hiking trails. These marine reptiles – respectively 90 and 107 million years old – are exhibited and protected by Site Museums (please note that they are covered in winter).
The Natural Geological Reserve of Haute Provence is responsible for their conservation, thus extracting or collecting fossils is prohibited on its perimeter of protection.
Beyond its outstanding geological heritage, the Geopark of Haute Provence invites you to discover its natural and human history and its traditions as well. Provencal language, customs or local products are the inheritance of the Geopark, and so is contemporary art. Land of inspiration, the Geopark has been chosen by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy to create original works connected with nature.
The Geopark’s treasures are to be found everywhere in Haute Provence, so do not wait anymore to go and meet them! Let your journey through time begin with an exploration of the themed trails and exhibition halls at the Promenade Museum in Digne les Bains.