Southern Alps: paradise yet again, but with a flavour of Provence…
The overall altitude is higher than the Northern Alps, even if the highest peaks rarely exceed the symbolic 4000 m. (4,102 m at Barre des Ecrins).
Just imagine a region that enjoys over 300 days of sunshine a year, which is quite a feat. All kinds of leisure activities are available: skiing, hiking, ountaineering, white water and many more…
In fact, this region marks the transition between North and South. Gradually, the fir trees give way to larch, the paths smell of lavender and thyme, and the Durance River begins its journey towards Provence and its olive orchards.
In the north, the area around Briançon offers a full range of activities associated with high mountains. Serre-Chevalier and Montgenèvre has areas that lend themselves to all kinds of skiing. And Italy is only a stone’s throw away!
Going south, along the Durance, you reach the Valloise valley, gateway to the Parc des Ecrins where experienced climbers have an interesting choice of high mountain climbs.
Here you also find the Parc du Queyras with its magnificent scenery, luckily preserved from mass tourism, with its villages of traditional houses. Saint Véran distinguished for being the highest inhabited village in France (2 040 m). And Guillestre, gateway to the Queyras and starting point for access to the resorts of Vars and Risoul. Together they make up one of the largest ski slopes in the region.
In summer, the town of Embrun and the lac de Serre-Ponçon offer a number of water activities. Above Gap, along the famous route Napoleon, you cross the Champsaur, Dévoluy and Valgaudemar areas offering genuinely welcoming resorts and villages.
Continuing down the route Napoleon, you end up in the Mediterranean Alps whose last foothills bathe in the Mediterranean. The Ubaye River, a tributary of the Durance, attracts tourists to the valley and the town for all kinds of sporting activities.
In summer, the river is ideal for rafts, kayaks and hydrospeeding. Further upstream, beyond the passes of Larche and la Bonnette, is the Parc du Mercantour, a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.
Come winter, Barcelonnette is again full of holiday-makers who come to enjoy the snow-covered slopes of the Sauze and the ski slopes linking Pra Loup to Val d’Allos... And finally, further south, in the Alpes Maritimes, is the Tinée Valley with the two very modern resorts of Auron and Isola 2000, then Valberg, Beuil and Saint Dalmas.
Access to Southern Alps
- By road, via numerous motorways (including the white motorway), then well-maintained roads to the resorts. It is worth noting however that in some peak periods there can be particularly heavy traffic on certain major trunk roads.
- By train: the resorts can be reached from Valence, Aix en Provence or Marseille by TGV, then take a regional train or a bus to the resorts.
- By plane: Marseille, Lyon, Grenoble and Nice airports.