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©The Southern Alps|Valentin Pacaut The Explorers

The Southern French Alps in books

With their landscapes, wildlife or their history, just a few words couched on paper reveal the many captivating aspects of the mountains. Get a glimpse of our selection of books written by people born in our mountains and inspired by the unique atmosphere of the Southern French Alps.

Published on 18 March 2021

Catherine, une vie en Queyras, by Blanche Dao Lena

Scenes from everyday life in the Queyras

Blanche Dao Lena grew up in Aiguilles, a little village in the Queyras where she was considered as the memory of the village. This is what prompted Blanche to take the plunge and launch into the writing she so loved with her first mountain novel Catherine, une vie en Queyras , published in 2003. Through the character of Catherine and her family, Blanche tells us the story of another life and time that she knew well, the period of her life in the mountain and its society, where work rhythmed a day to day life of small, simple pleasures. The story takes place at the beginning of the 20th century in the Queyras valley with its sublime landscapes that are revealed in her words.



Il Cicerone, by Jean-Charles Passeroni

Poetry time in the Haut Pays Niçois

The Haut Pays Niçois gave birth to an unavoidable poetic soul from the South of France and Jean-Charles Passeroni grew up in the mountains of the Alpes-Maritimes, and more precisely in the little hamlet of Lantosque. When he became a priest, he left for Italy to take up his office and it was there that he discovered his love of words and a passion for poetry. But it was actually in the mountains where he was born that he found his inspiration. Looking for an idea for something to read which is out of the ordinary? His best-known book is Il Cicerone , a facetious and educational poem where he tells the story of the life of Cicero. It is the longest poem of its kind with over 101 songs, a real feat!

Jusqu’à ce que la mort nous unisse, by Karine Giebel

An investigation in the Val d’Allos

The story which starts with the discovery of a dead Mercantour park ranger found dead in the splendid setting of the Val d’Allos and the Mercantour … A police investigation conducted by a mountain guide and a young woman gendarme. This is the story that Karine Giebel tells in her mountain adventure novel Jusqu’à ce que la mort nous unisse published in 2009. The French writer specialises in crime novels and thrillers and has received literary awards. You may have already heard the name of this novel and that’s because it was adapted as a movie in 2018.


Racontars du Mercantour, by Alain Grinda

Back to the roots in the Vésubie Valley

Alain Grinda was once a French Ministry of Education inspector, but it was to the land where he was born in the mountains of the Mercantour that Alain Grinda finally returned to blend his passion for writing and nature. He is currently a writer and storyteller in the charming village of Belvédère. Alain takes us along with him on the traces of life in the mountains, a life he knows well, in his book Racontars du Mercantour . But be careful, the walls have ears in Belvédère! In the old bistro where they used to gossip around the fire and where legends were told; the story is punctuated with stories and anecdotes for a total immersion into the life of mountain people.


Une soupe aux herbes sauvages, by Emilie Carles

Peasant life in the Briançonnais

Born into a small mountain family in the Hautes-Alpes, Emilie Carles shares with her readers the adventures that dotted her life, from childhood to old age, and particularly her fight to save her beloved Clarée Valley. She tells us of her life in her autobiographic book Une soupe aux herbes sauvages published in 1982. Through her character, we discover peasnt life at the time in the Alps. A life which was harsh and where you learned to work in the fields as a small child, but also a world rich with the values and teachings that forged the person who was to become Émilie. A fascinating mountain adventure story!


Suite montagnarde, by Jean Proal …..

Mountain life in the Blanche Valley

Do you know the Chemin Jean Proal trail in Seyne-les-Alpes? A hiking trail to honour the author Jean Proal who was born in the mountains. Encouraged by great writers such as Jean Giono, Jean Proal entered the world of literature at the age of 28; He received the Grand Prix du Roman from the Société des Gens de Lettres in 1961. Originally from the village of Seyne-les-Alpes, his Alpine background is clear in his stories, particularly Suite Montagnarde . This book about the mountains is a compilation which tells the story of a peaceful yet difficult life that the author himself experienced. The book is in three parts with texts dating from three different periods: Malentendus, De la truite au chamois and Grand moissonneur de blé de lune. Three texts which ring out as country tragedies and whose common denominator is misunderstanding. In this everyday life, the mountains lay down the rules to be followed and beings and things communicate wordlessly… The author portrays a very harsh reality which is nevertheless told in a very gentle manner.