Barles CanyonsNature Reserve

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A Haute Provence Geopark site to discover by car, bike, bicycle or foot…

Description

On the road from Digne les Bains towards Barles, the canyon gets so narrow that it becomes difficult for two cars to cross! This rocky landscape sculpted by nature is even more enjoyable by foot.

This geological formation is called “Clues de Barles” in French. The word “clue” comes from Latin “clausus” which means “closed”. Such a small canyon is, therefore, a pass way almost closed, made by a river.

The Barles Canyon was made by the Bès River, within limestone dating from the end of the Jurassic or from the early inferior Cretaceous period (i.e. between 155 and 140 million years).

The Bès River made its way through vertical and very thick layers, taking advantage of the rock’s weaknesses.

At the beginning of the Barles Canyon, contemporary artist Andy Goldsworthy installed one of his stone “Sentinels”. This sculpture is part of the land art itinerary “Refuge d’Art”.

Geology around Barles
Many geological expeditions were ran around Barles. This location is known worldwide for the diversity and the complexity of its tectonic and sedimentary phenomenon.
From the XVIIth Century, at the time of local scientist and philosopher Gassendi, scientists were intrigued by the peculiar layout of rocks in the region of Digne and by the origin of mysterious fossils.
However, geology developed in the Southern Alps only at the beginning of the XIXth Century. Before the end of this century, discoveries were made easy by the mountains’ nudity. Cleared by centuries of culture and collect of wood, they let outcrops, slabs and fossils show.
Right after 1945, Barles became a base camp for stratigraphy and tectonic specialists, paleontologists…

Languages Spoken

  • French

Labels & accessibility

  • Circuits de France_POI
  • Nature Reserve
  • Géoparc de Haute Provence

Visit

Location

Get Directions

Comfort / services

  • Pets welcome

Pets allowed

Opening times

All year round.