Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04240) Population: 69 Altitude: 1024 m
Méailles is a very picturesque old village built on a rocky ridge overlooking the Vaire river, 325 m below. The narrow village streets include old vaulted passages beneath the medieval houses, and a village church with a tall bell-clock tower with a colorfully tiled roof.
This is an active farm village. Fields are spread out across the high plateau surrounding the village, and many of the old houses in the village are "farm houses", with cattle housed in small stone barns attached directly to the houses. The smell of "farm" is ever present while walking through the village streets.
The village is growing, though, with constant new construction, and some of the ancient village farm houses being converted for more modern living. Although some Niçoises have obviously discovered a location for their "residence secondaire", the village is still natural and the site is still beautiful.
There's a Gite in the village, but no other commerce, so bring your own lunch. A boulanger delivers to the village every Saturday morning, around 10h45.
You'll have a spectacular view of Méailles from the west side of the valley, on the D908 road that runs between Annot and Thorame-Haute. Looking across to the east, you see Méailles perched on the side of the mountain, and the train tracks going up the valley beneath cross over arched stone viaducts.
The flag-stop station for theTrain des Pignes is just above the river, and a good hike up the hillside is required to get to the village. A trail angles straight up to the village, providing a short-cut to the switch-backs of the road.
History of Meailles
First record, 11th century: Madalgas
Prehistoric: There was bronze-age habitation in the Grotte de Méailles, 4 km north of the village.
Medieval: Méailles, like Fugeret, was ruled first by the Pontevès and later the Glandevez.
July (Last Sun) - Fete Patronale de la Saint-Jacques
• GPS: 44.022918, 6.630797
IGN (1/25,000) #3541 ouest "St Andrés des Alpes"
IGN (1/25,000) #3541 est "Annot - Entreveaux"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #19 "Haute Provence Verdon"
Grotte de Méailles. A 5-hour loop hike goes north from the village, through the Lare forest to the Rocher du Brec (1373 m) and the Grotte de Méailles. The trail continues east to the Gougnas ruins (1781 m), then turns south through La Pinée forest, past La Combe and back to the village.
• Méailles - Fugeret. A 3-hour loop hike goes southeast from the village on the GTPA (Grande Traversée des PreAlpes) trail (yellow-red marks) to Paumelle (1150 m). A yellow-marked trail branches off to the south, down through the forest of chestnuts, and into Fugeret from the northeast. Leave the village to the northwest, following the D210 road for about 400 m, then follow forestry trails back to Méailles.
Stage 17 of the 2015 cycling Tour de France passed by the foot of the village.
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).