Forcalquier, in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, culminates at an altitude of nearly 550 m. The commune is also known as “The Town of the Four Queens,” which refers to the four daughters of the Count of Forcalquier, Ramon Berenguer IV, who all became queens.
A former county town, Forcalquier is ideally located near the Lure Mountain and the Luberon Regional Nature Park. The visit of the town is made by chance during a walk in its historical center. Stroll through the streets and enjoy the rich heritage while admiring the emblematic monuments of the town such as Place Saint Michel and its fountain, Forcalquier Cathedral or the Cordeliers Convent. Then go to Notre Dame de Provence Chapel from where you can enjoy a breathtaking view over the rooftops of the town and the surrounding villages.
Throughout the year, the town comes alive and various events about art are organized to honor local heritage and traditions, but also to bring together locals and visitors. You might also have the opportunity, during your stay, to go to the Festival Femmes en Scène (Women on Stage), the Heures Musicales de la Rotonde (Musical Hours of La Rotonde) or the Astronomy Festival.
Forcalquier is the ideal place for hiking enthusiasts. Numerous trails crisscross the territory. There are also circuits that will allow you to discover the countryside by bike or mountain bike unless you are more comfortable on the back of a horse.
Take advantage of your stay to discover the tourist destinations in the surrounding area such as Dignes-les-Bains, Manosque, Apt, the village of Saint-Étienne-les-Orgues, Mane or Saint-Michel-l’Observatoire.
Artemisia Museum offers various interactive routes on the history of the harvesting and cultivation of aromatic, perfume and medicinal plants from the Lure Mountain. You will discover the local biodiversity as well as the work of herbalists, lavender and alcohol distilleries and cosmetics and perfume manufacturers. All your senses will be awakened during your visit thanks to information panels, plants to touch, smells, etc. Throughout the year, the museum organizes fun workshops for children and adults alike.
Located on the main square of the town, Forcalquier Cathedral is classified as a historical monument. Its original Latin cross plan was modified in the 17th century with the addition of the side naves, the upper part and the bell tower with its campanile. Inside, you can admire a magnificent organ whose first pipes date back to 1629. If you want to hear it, go to the cathedral for a service or a concert. The Gothic style of both the transept and the choir of the cathedral represents the integration of this type of architecture in the south of France. It is one of the city’s major historical sites.
Les Mourres is a surprising natural site and ideal for a nature outing. The plateau is strewn with masses of unusually shaped limestone, some of which are several meters high. These rocks were formed about 25 million years ago in a lacustrine environment. The place is perfect for a family walk. On the signposted route, you can stop near the interpretative panels which provide information on the geological origin of Les Mourres, the development work carried out and the plant and animal species to be discovered.
Notre Dame de Provence Chapel
Notre Dame de Provence Chapel stands on the site of the Castle of the Counts of Forcalquier, on the hill overlooking the town. The building dates from the 19th century and was built in a neo-Byzantine style. The chapel is marked by its octagonal shape crowned by a dome topped by a statue of the Virgin. It has a carillon of 15 bells, used on Sundays and during important celebrations, such as Christmas. Traditional music is played by striking a keyboard with the fists.
The Cordeliers Convent was built in the 13th century. It consists of a cloister, convent rooms and gardens. Today, the convent is home to the European University of Scents and Flavors as well as a branch of the Carmejane Agricultural High School. Visits and exhibitions are organized to discover the premises. During sensory workshops, you can awaken your senses to the uses and benefits of plants. Listed as a historical monument, the Cordeliers Convent is one of the first Franciscan foundations in Provence.
- Tourist Office of Forcalquier: https://www.haute-provence-tourisme.com/fr/accueil-2/
- Road service: A51 Highway (from Aix-en-Provence or Gap)
- Air access: Marseille Provence Airport (1 hour and 15 minutes)
- Railroad access: TGV station of Aix-en-Provence (1 hour)