Digne-les-Bains photo digne0011s.jpg (3 k) Digne-les-Bains, the préfecture of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, is a town with a medieval heart and an even older history. In the early 19th century Digne was a luncheon stop for Napoléon. Today it's a popular tourist stop for French and foreign visitors, with only one of its attractions being the thermal baths that justify the -les-Bains part of its name.

location map for Digne-les-Bains area map
Dept: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04)

Also:  | Géoparc de Haute-Provence | Route Napoléon | Train des Pignes |

Nearby: | Barrême 30 km | Castellane 53 km (1 hr) | Le Chaffaut-Saint Jurson 11 km | Champtercier 10 km | Champtercier Observatory 10 km | Embrun 91 km (1hr50) | Mézel 15 km | Nice, France 163 km (2h30) | Saint André-les-Alpes 43 km | Seyne-les-Alpes 41 km | Sisteron 39 km | Thoard 22 km | Volonne 28 km |

Hotels near Digne-les-Bains: | Digne-les-Bains | 39 km Sisteron | 41 km Seyne-les-Alpes | 43 km Saint Andre-les-Alpes | 91 km (1hr50) Embrun | 163 km (2h30) Nice |

Although Digne is a major town, with residential areas and shopping centers (mainly on the northern outskirts and the N85 towards Sisteron), it has a compact center and a beautiful setting, sitting beside the fast-flowing Bléone river and with forested mountains all around. The long main street through town is completely shaded by the overhanging branches of the plane trees.

Shopping
There's good shopping in central Digne, along the tree-lined Boulevard Gassendi and the pedestrian streets just beside.
A large shopping center (centre commercialle - the equivalent of a mall) is located a 5-minutes drive out of town, on the N85 road towards Sisteron/Champtercier.

Geology

Digne has a unique geological position because of the transition between the Alps and the plains of Provence.The Réserve Géologique des Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is a huge area protected for its geological interest. The controlling Centre de Géologie has laboratories, libraries and expositions in Digne. The Centre is located just north of central Digne, across the river and then left up the hillside. There's a 15-minute walk from the parking lot, but you'll have a great view of the town from there.

Baths

The hot springs of Digne-les-Bains have been used since Antiquity, but not continuously, the baths losing their popularity after the Romans departed. The modern baths, rebuilt by the municipality and opened in 1982, are still on the aptly-named Eaux-Chaudes river 3 km southeast of the town. There are actually 8 hot springs (and one cold), flowing from the St Pancarace cliffs. The water, starting at 42°C (107°F), contain sulfur, calcic (lime and calcium), strong minerals and are lightly radioactive. The baths are supposed to be good for respiratory problems and rheumatism.

Lavender

Digne is the center of one of the principle lavender regions of Provence, the Pays de Digne. [ map of lavender regions ]

History

Name

First record, First record, 1st-century: Dinia; 780 Digna

Gallo-Roman: Situated where the Bléone river, joined by the smaller Mardaric and Eaux-Chaudes, cuts through steep mountain ridges, this was a strategic site between Provence and the Alps and occupied throughout Antiquity. Pliny the Younger (62-114) wrote that Dinia was the capital of the Bodiontici or Brodiontii, a people conquered by Augustus in 14 BC.

Medieval: During barbarian invasions in the 6th century, fortifications were built in a protected little valley to the northeast (Notre-Dame du Bourg) and on hilltops overlooking the current town. The fortifications have pretty-much disappeared, with just a few ramparts remaining.
The lower town (cité) and the Bourg were ruled separately until the 15th century; the cité by the Counts of Provence and the Bishops of Digne; the Bourg by the provost of the church of Digne.
Digne suffered severely from the Wars of Religion, with invasions, massacres and destruction occurring four successive times between 1562 and 1595. Of the population that survived and recovered from the religious wars, 85% died from the plague of 1629.
In 1851 the peasants revolted against Napoleon III (Louis Napoléon Bonaparte) who occupied Digne as the seat of his provisional government; he became emperor the following year.

Office de Tourisme

Tel (CDT): 04 92 36 62 62; Fax: 04 92 32 27 24

Web: www.ot-dignelesbains.fr

  • Comite des fetes web: http://www.cdf-dignelesbains.fr/
  • Email: info-digne.les.bains@wanadoo.fr

    Dates

    Every Sat - Marché - Market day (the 1st Sat of the month includes a foire)
    Every June - Fête de la Musique
    Every July - Fete du Jazz
    Every July - Theater Festival- théâtre des villes, théâtre des champs
    Every Aug - 15th: Large foire-market, on the Place du Tampinet near the round-about by the river
    Every Aug - Journées Lavande
    1st Weekend Aug - Corso de la Lavande - great celebrations!

    Museum

    Nature

    Transportation Digne-les-Bains

    The Train des Pignes is one wonderful way to get to Digne-les-Bains [Train des Pignes map].

    Bus

    Fun - Amusement - Kids

    Butterflies

    Geological


    Sports

    Digne-les-Bains is an active sports center, with 2 swimming pools and 3 stadiums, and offering canoeing-kayaking, horseback riding, tennis and alpinism as well as good hiking.

    Fishing

    Golf

    Paragliding

    Hiking

    Maps

    IGN (1/25,000) #3440 ET "Digne-les-Bains"

    Didier Richard (1/50,000) #19 "Haute Provence Verdon"

    There's great hiking all around Digne but, because of the nature of the mountains, a lot of the hiking is pretty steep. The best bet is to have a look at the Didier Ricard maps and pick one of the many trails available. We once took the Train des Pignes from Nice to Digne and then hiked back to Vence -- an unforgettable 5-day adventure. You can also take the Train des Pignes from Digne to a nearby village, hike for the day, and ride the train back again. The FFRP Guidebooks page lists a couple of "PR" guidebooks for the Prealpes de Dignes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.

    Dining

    The prices listed below are from our own experiences pre 2000, converted from French Francs.

    Le France Brassiere-Restaurant

    Lunch here: Filets de Rougets au Coulis de Langoustines - 11 € (a Mediterranean red fish, on a bed of rice and mushroom with lobster sauce). Poêlée de Noix de Saint Jacques au Caviar d'Aubergine, 13 € (scallops on a thick bed of chopped egg-plant).

    Also have: Buffet de Hors d'Oeuvres, 8 €; Gourmet menus

    Food is great. Service is very slow.

    Petit Saint-Jean

    restaurant has a warm and friendly welcome and a pleasant decor, with polished wooden beams. Service is also friendly and correct, but with only one waiter for the 12 tables, patience is required.

    The soupe de pistou is superbe (kidney beans, green beans,rose beans, carrots, some noodles, onions, tiny dried tomatoes). Trout: pink, fresh and whole. Quail: also whole.

    L'Origan

    This Digne restaurant had a small dining room with windows on to the walking street. He cooks; she serves. Overall: excellent service: exceptional cuisine, excellent prices.

    13 €: La Formule provencal.

    15 €: Tarteflette d'olives et tomates et son soufflé de chèvre!!! or Lapin à la menthe (mint rabbit). 19 €: Aïoli froid de Cabillaud !!! or Rognonnade d'agneau à la farigoulette (lamb with stuffed baby squash).

    Desserts are artistic, original and delicous.

    le Brasserie France

    Location: 54 bd Gassendi

    Closed: sun off-season; Toussaint school vacation; feb

    Tel: 0492 310 370

    Very nice dining room with lots of wood. Large terrace. Food is great. Service is very slow.
    - Filets de Rougets au Coulis de Langoustines - 70 F (a Mediterranean red fish, on a bed of rice and mushroom with lobster sauce)
    - Poêlée de Noix de Saint Jacques au Caviar d'Aubergine, 75 F (scallops on a thick bed of chopped egg-plant)
    - Buffet de Hors d'Oeuvres, 55 F

    L'Origan

    Location: 6 rue Pied-de-Ville

    Closed: sun; Christmas week

    Tel: 0492 316 213

    On the pedestrian street in the lower town.

    Le Petit Saint-Jean

    Location: 14 cours des Arès

    Closed: 3 weeks of dec-jan

    Tel: 0492 313 004

    This hotel-restaurant has been going since 1746. Near the cathedrale Notre-Dame-du-Boury. Every friday an Aïoli, for 50F.

    Lodging - Hotels