•Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04200) • Population: 6,594 • Altitude: 482 m
Sisteron is a pre-Roman town built at a narrow rocky gap (clue) where the Durance and Buech rivers join. The gap, at the north edge of the town, rises in a cliff to the Rocher de la Baume on the east side of the river, and to the rocky peak topped by the imposing 13th-to-17th-century citadel on the west side, protecting the town. From the north, the road enters the town through a tunnel beneath the citadel, and the town is still protected by parts of the 14th-century walls. The gap and the citadel are most impressive when arriving from the south, viewed across the town.
Sisteron is a very nice town, with interesting streets, houses and other sites. There's a lot to do here, with a multitude of restaurants and shops of all kinds. A main route nationale passes through town, though, along with the autoroute to Aix-en-Provence and Marseilles, and Sisteron is very crowded in the summer. If you're going to be visiting the nearby region, such as the Montagne de Lure to the west or the mountainous country to the east, this is a good central location.
The 11th-century origins of the chateau are long gone, but the donjon is from the 12th century, and the current battlements, built in the 16th century during the Wars of Religion, are ancient enough, and very impressive.
There's a laundramat (laverie automatique) at the Place Dr. Robert, by the campanile clock tower, 7/7, 7h-20h30.
The Romanesque-Provencal Notre-Dame-des-Pommiers cathedral was built in the 12th century (1160-1220), part of an Episcopal group including the Saint-Thyrse church, a baptisery and a cloister reserved for the Canons. The name comes from the Latin pomoerium, for the area inside the walls containing a necropole. The architecture is Lombardian Alpine. It's the oldest and one of the most beautiful of the group of cathedrals of Digne, Embrun, Bayons and Senez.
History of Sisteron
Gallo-Roman: Sisteron was originally a village of the Celtic Gauls. It was occupied very early by the Romans, and became the sixth city of the Second Narbonnaise.
Medieval: Sisteron became an episcopal town in the 4th century. It escaped the Barbarian invasions, but was pillaged so thoroughly by the Saracens that it didn't regain its prosperity until the 11th century. Sisteron was in the domain of the counts of Forcalquier and then the counts of Provence, for whom it guarded their northern frontier. In 1483, it became a Royal domain when the last count of Provence gave the town to Louis XI, and was co-administered with the bishops.
Around 1400, Sisteron had a spiritual Renaissance with Saint Vincent Ferrier. That didn't last very long, however, as seven plague epidemics between 1451 and 1503 killed off two-thirds of the population. Sisteron sided with the Crown during the Wars of Religion, and suffered two bloody sieges. Along with some other killing troubles, the plague returned in 1630, and typhus came along in 1744, decimating the town.
Recent: Sisteron didn't recover until the end of the 18th century. The town had remained Royalist, so when Napoléon arrived in time for lunch, on 5 November, 1815, the local population pretty much ignored him. During the 1939-1945 war, the resistance managed to liberate the political prisoners being held in the citadel. The town later suffered major damage from allied bombardment.
Tel (Mairie): 04 92 61 36 50; Fax: 04 92 61 19 57 Tel: 04 92 61 12 03
Every Wed - Marché - Market
Every Pentecôte May - Fête votive: attractions foraines, bals, animations (4th day of Pentecôte)
Every July - Fete - Galas Folkloriques *
Every July - Festival des Nuits de la Citadelle- théâtre, danse, musique classique (mid July-mid Aug)
3rd Sun July - Fête de l'Agneau (the famous lamb festival) - from 12h, Parc Massot-Deveze
Beginning Oct - Foire-expositoin: artisanale and commerciale
Every Dec - Santons, Crèches - 80-90 groups assemble.
Citadel or Citadel Museum
- Open: 15 Mar - 15 Nov
- - Summer 8h-19h; Winter 9h-18h
- Entry: 19 F adult; 9 F children
- Tel: (33) 492 61 27 57
Baden-Powell Scout Museum
- Open: 15 Mar - 15 Nov, Wed, 15h-18h
- - anytime with rendez-vous: Tel (33) 492 61 03 16
- Musée du Scoutisme
- 6, Rue de la Missioin; 04200 Sisteron
Musée Terre & Temps
- The Earth and Time museum is dedicated to measuring the time of men and the time of the earth. Located in an ancient Convent chapel.
- Location: 6 Place Général-de-Gaulle
- Open: July-Aug: 7 days, 10-13h, 15-19h
Apr-Oct: Wed-Sun, 9h30-12h30, 14-18h
May, June, Sept: 7 days, 9h30-12h30, 14-18h
- Tel: 0492 615 450; Fax: 04 92 33 99 18
- Email: email@example.com
- Web: www.resgeol04.org/musee-terre.html
The A51 autoroute goes north and northeast from Aix-en-Provence to Sisteron and almost to Gap. Driving west on the A8 autoroute (from Nice/Cannes) you follow towards Avignon/Lyon past the southern edge of Aix. The "A51" and "Sisteron" are mentioned a couple of times, but then forgotten at the crutial moment.
• Follow "Avignon" past Aix, going right onto a north-bound autoroute that quickly has you up a hill to traffic lights. Past the lights, go right towards "Gap - Digne", which gets you onto the (unmarked) A51.
• A few minutes up the A51, continu on past exit 14; do not exit here because of the green "Sisteron" sign; that's really just for the non-autoroute route.
- It's about 2h30 from Nice/Cannes/Grass to Sisteron.
Department 04, Alpes-de-Haute Provence Buses
- See Beyond's Alpes-de-Haute Provence (04) Bus Schedules for downloading Alpes-de-Haute Provence bus-lines map and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).
Marseille - Gap - Briancon Bus
- The Marseille - Gap - Briancon bus route is: Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Meyrargues, Peyrolles, Mirabeau, Corbières, Sainte Tulle, Manosque, Volx, Villeneuve, La Brillanne, Lurs, Peyruis, Saint Auban, Chateau-Arnoux, Volonne, Peipin, Les Bons Enfants, Sisteron, Le Poet, Rourebeau, Le Beynon, Valenty, Monetier-Allemont, Le Vivas, La Saulce, Tallard, Chateauvieux, La Tourronde, Gap; La Batie Neuve, Chorges, Savines, Embrun, Chateauroux, Guillestre, Mont-Dauphin, L'Argentière, Briançon.
Trip time Marseille - Gap is 3h15 (Marseille - Manosque 1h20; Manosque - Sisteron 0h50; Sisteron - Gap 1hr). The separate bus between Gap and Briançon is just under 2 hours.
(Schedule link http://www.scal-amv-voyages.com/horaires/circuit7.htm) The routes and schedules are available on the SCAL-Autocars website (link below); select Marseille / Briançon and click on one symbol to view the route map, click on the other symbol for the schedule.
- Web: www.scal-amv-voyages.com/ligne.htm
Nice - Gap Bus
- There are two buses a day between Nice and Gap, with the route Nice - Digne-les-Bains - Sisteron, and Sisteron - Gap.
Northbound: Nice 7h00, Digne 10h10, Sisteron 11h00, Gap 11h45.
Nice 14h50, Digne 17h40, Sisteron 18h45, Gap 19h40.
Southbound: Gap 8h05, Sisteron 9h10, Digne 9h50, Nice 12h40
Gap 15h28, Sisteron 16h30, Digne 17h25, Nice 2030
The Nice - Gap bus route is: Nice, Plan-du-Var, Touet-sur-Var, Puget-Thenier, Entreveaux, Annot-Scaffarel, Rouaine, Saint Julien, St André-les-Alpes, Moriez, Barreme, Norante, Chateau-Redon, Digne-les-Bains, Mallemoisson, Malijai, Chateau-Arnoux, Volonne, Peipin, Bons Enfants, Sisteron, Le Poet, Rourebeau, Beynon, Valenty, Monetier-Allemont, Le Vivas, La Saulce, Tallard, Chateauvieux, La Tourronde, Gap.
(Schedule link http://www.scal-amv-voyages.com/horaires/circuit9.htm) The routes and schedules are available on the SCAL-Autocars website (link below); select Nice / Gap and click on one symbol to view the route map, click on the other symbol for the schedule.
At Nice, the bus terminal is at 16 ave des Diables Bleus (Tramway stop Palais des Expositions)
- Web: www.scal-amv-voyages.com/ligne.htm
Sports in around Sisteron include:
- Gliding - Aerodrome Sisteron-Vaumeilh; 12 km, route de Gap; open all year; Tel: 04 92 61 17 45; Fax: 04 92 61 10 91
- Fishing - Etang de pêche les Pres hauts, 3 km from the center; Magasin de peche, Tel: 04 92 61 07 52
- Mini-golf - Plan d'eau des Marres
- Swimming - Plan d'eau des Marres
- Swimming pool
• Latitude, Longitude: 44.197154, 5.943559
IGN (1/25,000) #3340 ET "Digne-les-Bains, Sisteron, Les Mées"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #28 "Montagne de Lure, Val de Durance"
The GR6 Hiking Trail passes east-west through Sisteron. The GR6 connects with several other trails to the east and the west, and to the south. North, along the Durance, the land is more built-up.
• To the west, the GR6 climbs to the top of the ridge (748 m) and follows the ridge for about 6 km before turning south. The trail crosses the Montagne du Lure along the ridge between Pas de la Graille (1597 m) and the summit (1826 m), then drops down through the forested southern flanks to St Etienne-les-Orgues, and on south to Forcalquier.