Tourist Guide - Things to see, do and enjoy in and around St Andre les Alpes
Chateau de Meouilles is located just 2km from Saint-Andre-les-Alpes and is situated in a prominent position on a hill top, overlooking the town, Lac de Castillon and has panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. With incredible sunlight, regular blue skies and crisp mountain air the authentic Provence atmosphere is guaranteed.
The town has plenty of amenities available such as boulangeries, supermarkets, cafes, restaurants, banks, ATM machines, 24hr fuel station, tourist information, doctors and pharmacy to name a few.
Below we highlight some of the wonderful hiking, biking, flying, natural and cultural attractions that make this such a delightful corner of Provence to relax in and enjoy. Further information is also available on the St-Andre-les-Alpes Office de Tourisme and the Explore-Provence websites.
St Andre les Alpes has an attractive square where you can enjoy the cafes and restaurants and while away a lazy afternoon. On Saturdays and Wednesday mornings there is a small local market selling fresh produce. Throughout the summer is a good programme of "animations" from sporting events, craft displays, music festival, fireworks, and fetes. More details on the Office de Tourism. Other activities are also available in town including mini golf and tennis courts.
The town is situated in the Parc Naturel du Verdon at the northern end of Lac de Castillon. This emerald green lake is where many people spend the summer days, sunbathing on the local beaches and enjoying the water sports. Hire of canoes, pedalos, windsurfers, catamarans and stand up paddle boards are available.
The River Verdon flows into the lake at St Andre les Alpes and is also used for swimming and canoeing.
The local mountain of Le Chalvet (1609m) dominates the town and provides a world class flying site for hang gliding and paragliding. A drive up the steep tarmac road gives you easy access to watch the pilots take off and soar the ridges. There is a pleasant but steep short walk to the summit "table de orientation" with fantastic views of the surrounding area. Aerogliss, the excellent local flying school runs tandem paragliding if you wish to experience the flight sensation for yourself. If you are a pilot yourself you can find further site and flight information on Explore-Provence.
There are plenty of hiking and mountain bike trails to explore in the area many of which are well signposted. From the chateau grounds you have access to easy and demanding local walks. The short walk up to the Statues of the two Saints, (Saint Paul and St Pierre) and the 2km stroll into town are very pleasant. For something more challenging the spectacular ridge of Crete de Serres (1778m) also overlooks the Chateau although you will need a whole day to do the return trip. A pleasant 45 minutes drive to the NE will bring you to the ski resort of Allos and the Parc National du Mercantour. The hour hike to Lac de Allos (Europe's largest alpine lake) will give you breath taking views of the larger mountains. Further information on the hiking and biking routes that are available from the Office de Tourisme or on the Explore-Provence site.
About 20 minutes drive away is the famous village of Peyresq, well known for it's Science and Art summer school named after the great humanist Nicolas-Claude Fabri. It attracts many academics and students alike from all over the world, and organizes regular classical concerts in the region, including Saint Andre
For those who like their adventure there are plenty of other outdoor activities providers nearby offering everything from white water rafting, climbing, horse riding, canyoning, abseiling and quad biking. Many of these are based in the attractive town of Castellane just 30 minutes away.
Just beyond Castellane is the very impressive Verdon Gorge - Europe's biggest canyon. There are some impressive hikes here but the gorge can also be enjoyed from the car. The "Route de Cretes". takes you past many good belvederes with jaw dropping views. There is also a good chance of watching the resident Griffin Vultures soar by - sometimes above sometimes below you. At the far end of the gorge the Verdon flows into another beautiful emerald lake - Lac St Croix with further water sports and bathing opportunities.
For history lovers and those that like to relax in the Provencal atmosphere there are some superb villages and towns within 45 minutes drive which still retain their medieval charm. In particular worth visiting are:
- Colmars - A Vauban fortified village and gateway to the mountains of Upper Verdon Valley.
- Castellane - Charming narrow streets, rafting centre and gateway to the Verdon gorge.
- Annot - Small town in an unusual landscape of huge sandstone blocks.
- Entrevaux - A Vauban fortified town with fascinating draw bridge entrance and narrow streets.
- Moustiers St Marie -Huddled in a cleft in the rocks and rated as one of Frances most beautiful villages.
If you are willing to explore slightly further away then there is lots more to discover. The Alpes de Haute Provence website is very informative for a wide range of cultural and recreational information. We would also recommend considering some of these other day excursions from St Andre les Alpes.
Digne les Bains is the nearest large town (just 45 minutes drive) and the perfect place to pamper yourself in one of the thermal spas, find out more of the Reserve Geological de Haute Provence and enjoy the programme of events including the fragrance and products of the "Foire de Lavende".
Slightly further to the west is the beautiful Vauban town of Sisteron. There is always a fine display of flowers here and the town and citadel are great to explore.
To the south west and at the end of the Verdon river you can visit Greoux les Bains - another spa town. Perhaps visit on the way the plateau de Valensole and admire the impressive lavender fields.
Drive an hour to the south east and visit Grasse - the perfume capital of France where you can blend your own fragrance. Much of the lavender produced in Provence including from St Andre les Alpes will end up here.
Further on about 110km from St Andre is the the French Riviera where you may wish to swim in the Mediterranean, enjoy some good sea food and take in the ambiance of Nice, Antibes Cannes or Monaco and many other destinations on the Cote d'Azur.