Worthy of the baths, “city zen”

Installed in the hollow of an inspiring landscape, Digne-les-Bains is undeniably inhabited by multiple curiosities. Prefecture of the department, Digne-les-Bains is also known to be the historic capital of Lavender. Between the Alps and Provence, the city stretches in a landscape of medium mountains. This ensures an exceptional quality of air with very little humidity. Thus, far from the pollution of large urban centres, Digne-les-Bains has the floral charm and gentleness of a medium-sized town that takes care of itself.

Thermes Digne-les-Bains

Photo of bathers in the swimming pool of the Digne les Bains thermal baths

At the junction of the Bléone, Mardaric and Eaux Chaudes rivers, the city is known for the soothing properties of mountain water. For health, well-being or physical activity, the town combines the multiple benefits of water. Digne les bains is a spa resort with a solid national reputation.

Since ancient times, Digne les bains has been known for its thermal baths, but it also has a range of beautiful aquatic facilities for relaxation and fitness. In the town centre, the hot water complex is open all year round. This covered space, unique in the département, includes a sports pool and family fun pools, perfect for children. When the weather is fine, the terraces open up to offer an ideal place to relax in the city centre. Further from the centre, on the road to Nice as you enter the town, is the Ferréols lake. From the centre, you can get there by bus, by car or by bike, but also on foot (allow a pleasant XNUMX-minute walk along the banks of the Bléone). You can enjoy restaurants and beautiful grassy beaches, shaded and guarded during the summer on the spot.

In addition, the spa offers a zen area dedicated to relaxation, beauty care and fitness. You can choose between aromatherapy, Tibetan modeling with the Kansu bowl, light therapy baths or aquagym, aquarelax... Soon, the thermal baths will welcome a spa.

The breath of water

A family plays on the edge of the lake in Digne les Bains

Since ancient times, Digne les bains has been known for its thermal baths, but it also has a range of beautiful aquatic facilities for relaxation and fitness. In the town centre, the hot water complex water complex is open all year round. This covered space, unique in the département, includes a sports pool and family fun pools, perfect for children. When the weather is fine, the terraces open up to offer an ideal place to relax in the city centre. Further from the centre, on the road to Nice as you enter the town, is the Ferréols lakeFrom the centre, you can get there by bus, by car or by bike, but also on foot (allow a pleasant XNUMX-minute walk along the banks of the Bléone). You can enjoy restaurants and beautiful grassy beaches, shaded and guarded during the summer on the spot.

Once past the lake, the river continues its course and leads us towards the Gaubert lakeThe calm atmosphere of the place is favourable for both fishing and wildlife observation. For example, depending on the season, beavers, moorhens and grey herons can be seen. Taking the time to cycle along the river from the town centre to Lac de Gaubert is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the natural energy of the area.

Natural height

A group of friends are walking on the Caguerenard hiking trail

Digne les bains is a town where one can relax around water, but it also encourages one to move around. Indeed, the call of nature would be hard to resist! How can you resist the urge to fill your eyes and lungs with it? On foot, by bike, paraglinding or clinging to the cliffs, all the conditions are there to satisfy the urge to exercise. Whether alone, with friends or with professional guides, Digne les bains offers a wide range of  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, Trois ChapellesCaguerenard to Oreilles d'ânes trails offer three beautiful viewpoints of the town.

Another impressive, and vertiginous walk is that of the  Rocher de Neuf heureswhich leads us to the foot of the   via ferrata with its 100-metre high cliff. 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. For those who are a little tired of the ground, the discovery of Digne from a paraglider will certainly offer one of the most beautiful views!

Yarrow history

Saint Jerome Cathedral in Digne les Bains

One can easily picture the old town centre, located in the Rochas district, as the historical centre of the town. The majestic Gothic Cathedral of Saint Jeromeand the Clock tower, topped by one of the most beautiful bell towers in the region, dominate the area. In reality, the town has its roots a little further north, in the Bourg district. In fact, it was here in the XNUMXth century that  Notre Dame du Bourg Cathedral, was built on the remains of Roman villas. The cathedral is a remarkable  Romanesque buildingwith a crypt containing a unique collection of Gallo-Roman and Middle Ages archaeological findings.

Later on, the town moved to  Le Rochas, a hillock dominating the old centre. In the XNUMXth century, the bishop had his castle built there (on the site of the current prison). Gradually, people came to take refuge there and, in the XNUMXth century ramparts were built at the foot of the hill. After the great plague of the XNUMXth century, the town expanded beyond the fortified walls to take on its present form. The fortifications were destroyed and only a few traces of the medieval period survived the changes. However, the current restoration of the centre is bringing back to life some very beautiful elements. The Tourist Office offers guided tours of the centre to discover the history of the town.

During the tour of the centre, the walk up St. Charles Street to St. Jerome's Cathedral will be rewarded with an unparalleled view of the city's rooftops where the late afternoon light covers the houses.

Cultural explorations

Some works exhibited in the rooms of the Gassendi Museum

Digne les bains has many other treasures that can be found in the  Gassendi Museum, a historical museum founded in 1885.  Pierre Gassendi, who gave his name to the Museum, was a humanist and astronomer from Digne. He was the peer of the scholarly elite of the Enlightenment, including Descartes and Galileo. Under Gassendi's patronage, the Museum offers an innovative museography. Indeed, the public wanders along a porous frontier where art and science intersect, as with these enigmatic hydropithecus.

Contemporary art goes far beyond the boundaries of the Gassendi Museum. It is rooted in the surrounding nature, the source of all inspirations. For example, Andy goldsworthydesigned  Refuge d'Art, a landmark work that recalls the mountain life that has now disappeared. Other artists, such as Herman de VriesRichard NonasJoan FontcubertaPaul-Armand GetteJean-Luc VilmouthTrevor Gould and Stephane Berard, reveal in their own way the relationships that people can establish with their natural environment.

Back in Digne, in the Promenade Museum, new works can be seen in the CAIRN (Informal Art Center for Nature Research) exhibition room. Then you can enjoy the peacefulness of the paths to discover the permanent collection installed in the open air. The walk ends in the museum rooms dedicated to geology. The museography offers an impressive collection of fossils.

The city is a world pioneer in the preservation and promotion of  geological heritage. In the 80s, it saw the birth of the first Geological Nature Reserve in 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 the world's first geopark !

Alexandra David Neel

View of the decoration of a room in the Maison Alexendra David Neel

If Digne les bains is the starting point of many explorations, it is certainly because it is also a city of explorers. The most famous of all is Alexandra David Neel ! A leading figure in 1924th century orientalism and a committed intellectual, she was the first European woman to enter the forbidden city of Lhasa in 20. At the end of the XNUMXs, she settled in Digne les bains, "her Himalaya for Lilliputians" . Here, she continued her remarkable work, as much for her high standards as for her dedication. Alexandra David-Neel kept all the objects, notes, photos and other ethnographic documents from her travels here. She named her house "Samten Dzong" (Residence of Reflection).

When she died, the explorer appointed the town as the universal legatee of the house, the copyrights and the archives. An invaluable heritage! The Maison Alexandra David-Neel will continue to operate as a museum and an interpretation centre dedicated to the author, Himalayan and Buddhist culture. The house was listed as a historical monument in XNUMX. And in XNUMX, it will be recognised as a XNUMXth century heritage site by the Ministry of Culture and Communication.

Queen lavender

Digne lavender field web image 740_500

The town of Digne les bains is a town where festivities are popular by tradition. The summer months are the climax of all the celebrations and lavender is the star. Indeed, the " blue strand" is everywhere in Provençal culture. The  Lavender Museum closely illustrates the historical importance of the plant in Haute Provence. The most famous festival is undoubtedly the Corso de la lavande. Since 1939, this institution has taken place on the first weekend in August. The town is then dressed in its costume of light and leads visitors and Dignois to the rhythm of the parades of the flowered floats, the brass bands and other marching bands. The great fair is in full swing.

As for the Lavender Fair, it is held in the main square of Digne les Bains at the end of August. One can find there all the products resulting from the culture of lavender: essence of lavender, soaps, honey... Like the Corso, the fair is also an institution, organized since the 1920s. At the time, it came at the end of the cutting season. The aim was to promote lavender essence in order to make its different properties known to the greatest perfumers. Over the years, the Lavender Fair has gained in notoriety. It attracts a large number of merchants and visitors, and becomes an opportunity to take advantage of very good opportunities!

During the Corso or the Fair, many producers come to give distillation demonstrations. This is an opportunity to meet colourful people and to share the way of life of Haute Provence!

Amplified music

Finally, since 2015, when September arrives, the Festival au Top, a contemporary music festival, comes on stage. Firmly focused on the amplified melodies of contemporary French pop music, the festival marks the end of the summer and the start of the school year. Whether it is a fitting end to the summer holidays or a stimulating start to the new year, the festival is gaining in popularity and maturity. The group of friends who initiated the festival also have a project to rehabilitate the "top", the town's old cinema. As a venue for artistic performances, the building would once again become a central hub of life.