•Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04870) • Population: 911 • Altitude: 543 m
Saint Michel is a Medieval village sitting on a low hill amidst farmlands and lavender fields, and is the "gateway" village to the Haute-Provence Observatory .
The commune of Saint Michel L'Observatoire is comprise the two main villages of Saint Michel L'Observatoire and Lincel, as well as several small hamlets.
Saint Michel has a large main square, with a colorful Mairie and post office at one end and terrace cafés at the other, with a collection of shops and fountain in between.
A block or so up from the main square is the Place de la Fontaine, with (of course) a very nice fountain, beside the Eglise St Pierre church with the tall campanile on top. The hotelo-restaurant L'Observatorie is here as well as the Office de Tourisme (Syndicat d'Initiative) and the Astronomy Museum.
A large 12th-century church sits higher up the hill, but still below the top where the ruins are of the original fortified village. This is called L'Eglise Haute (the Upper Church) or Eglise Saint-Michel
History of Saint Michel L'Observatoire
First record, 11th century Castrum Saint Michaelis
The nearby Haute-Provence Observatory was established in 1937 so we're supposing the name of the commune had the suffix "L'Observatoire" added about that time.
Prehistoric: Paleolithic sites were locatade at Aurifeuille (2 km north), La Nouvenière and Gayol.
Celto-Ligurian: Over 20 oppidums were located on the hilltops in the area around the village.
Gallo-Roman: The Roman Domitienne Way (Voie Domitienne) passed by the southern edge of the commune, between Forcalquier and Céreste and on to Apt. Today's N100 highway coincides roughly with the Roman road, looping around the Roman ford Reculon 1 km east of Lincel. The "borne de Tavernoure" sits 5 km east of Saint Michel, marking the boundary between the municipalities of Mane, Dauphin and Saint-Michel. This milestone may have marked the place of a roman road station along the Via Domitia.
A Roman meules (millstone) carving factory was located at Pary, and a Roman funeral stone was discovered at the Tour de Pompéia [we haven't located either of these places].
Medieval: The original Castrum Saint Michaelis was a fortified village. There was monastery here, abandoned in the 13th century. The village was ruled by the Lords of d'Agoult until the 14th century and of the Marin until the 17th century.
The village of Lincel, 2 km southwest, was a Barony, first mentioned in the 13th century. The church in Lincel was founded in 1190 by Ganfredi de Lindel, the Bishop of Gap.
More Recently: Saint Michel L'Observatoire combined with the commune of Lincel in 1973
Château d'Agoult, Place de la Fontaine
Tel : 0492 756 443
Opens in April (7 April in 2010), 13h30 - 16h30.
• GPS: 43.910822, 5.715944
IGN (1/25,000) #3342 OT "Manosque, Forcalquier"
IGN (1/25,000) #3341 ouest "Forcalquier"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #28 "Montagne de Lure, Val de Durance"
Bright yellow hiking direction signs in the main square show the numerous trails that loop out from the village. A large panel has a map of a half-dozen color-coded loop hikes in all the different directions from the center [Photo-13].
Transportation Saint Michel L'Observatoire
Avignon - Apt - La Brillane Bus
- Bus line 22A (Avignon - La Brillane - Digne) has two parts:
(1) Avignon, Cavaillon, Apt, Forcalquier, La Brillanne;
(2) La Brillanne, Chateau-Arnoux, Digne-les-Bains.
On the LER-PACA webpage, click on the Lignes & horaires for a list of the bus-line schedules.
Click on Ligne 22 : Avignon - La Brillanne - Digne-les-Bains for the PDF schedule.
The complete route for part-1 is: Avignon, Caumont, Cavaillon, Robion, Coustellet, Lumières, Apt, St Martin-de-Castillon, Cereste, Reillanne, Les Granons, St Michel l'Observatoire, Mane, Forcalquier, Niozelles La Brillanne, Oraison.
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).