Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04180) Population: 2,516 Altitude: 450 m
Villeneuve is a pretty, perched village along the Durance, about 10 km north of Manosque. It's not a "tourist" village, and there's not much there in the way of distractions -- which is the beauty of the place. If you're hammering along the Route Nationale south of Sisteron, with thousands of other vacationers in the summer heat, give yourself a treat and make a stop here.
The village is just a couple of minutes from the highway, but sitting on its hilltop in the silence of its own world. There's good parking at the square in front of the Mairie, well lighted at night. In the large café just across from the square is full of evening card games in the winter.
The village is old, and extremely well cared for, with neat streets going up the hill between the houses, to the 19th-century bell tower at the top of with its campanile and lighted clock. There's not much in the way of village commerce, but it does have a butcher shop and a couple of bakers. In one small square is a bronze bust of Frédéric Aillaud, proud in his top hat; he was the mayor around the beginning of the century.
La Roque - La Roche-Amère
On the hill above the village to the west is the site of La Roche-Amère, an oppidum from the bronze and iron ages and the Middle Ages. The ruins of the ancient village of La Roque is there, as well as an 11th-century donjon and the 12th-century Notre Dame de La Roque chapel. The peak is 584 m high, and has a fantastic view out over the Durance valley and across the Largue river between Villeneuve and Volx.
History of Villeneuve
The village was created in the middle of the 15th century, and called Villeneuve (new town) by the inhabitants of the "old" village of La Roque.
Prehistoric: There are a number of archeological sites in the area, including paleochristian sepultures at La Médecine, 2 km northeast.
Gallo-Roman: The remains of a Gallo-Roman villa are at St Saturnin, 1 km northeast. Amphora were made at a kiln there, on the banks of the Durance.
• GPS: 43.898111, 5.86704
IGN (1/25,000) #3040 ET "Carpantras, Vaison-la-Romaine"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #27 "Ventoux"
• Following the road northwest back into the pass behind the village, a trail goes off to the left, up to La Roche-Amère at the peak
• Continuing on out the northwest road to the end, at Font Rouvier, a trail loops out to the west around Costebella hill, then comes back towards the Durance and follows the hills north.
• Branching off earlier, on a road to the right, a trail goes up over the Cadé peak to the north of the village, and down to Le Combe on the other side.
There's a single little restaurant in Villeneuve, but it's pretty good and it's open year-round. La Main à la Pâte is billed as a Pizzeria, but it has a good selection of other dishes as well as a long list of pizzas. During the winter, the restaurant is closed only on Mondays; during the summer it's open seven days a week.
Villeneuve has a small museum, displaying old objects from this area, such as fossils and ancient farming implements.
- Open: Saturdays, Apr-Sept 16h-18h; Oct-Mar 15h-17h
- If you call (the Mairie), someone will gladly open it for you just about any time (except during mid-day, of course).
A local museum with ancient objects, fossils, farming implements, etc. from this area.
Open: Saturday afternoons, Apr-Sept 16h-18h, Oct-Mar 15h-17.
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).