On the banks of the Durance River, Sisteron is a must see of the Route Napoleon. Nicknamed the pearl of Haute-Provence, Sisteron enjoys an exceptional natural landscape, a real curiosity in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department. The town lies at the foot of Rocher de la Baume, known throughout the country and the world.
From the citadel that dominates the town, you can see the maze of stairs and vaulted streets of the town. The historic heart of the medieval village can be discovered by chance during a walk. You can admire the old houses, vaulted passages, stairs, fountains, restaurants, art galleries and stores.
Sisteron conceals many tourist sites such as the clock tower with its wrought-iron bell tower, the Romanesque Church of Notre-Dame-des Pommiers, the Musée Terre et Temps museum and more.
Your stay in Sisteron will be an opportunity to discover the surrounding area by striding along the various hiking trails that crisscross the territory. You will also be able to visit the towns and villages of the region such as Forcalquier and Gap.
But first, immerse yourself in the local customs and culture and meet the locals, during the festivals and events organized in the town such as La Fête de l’agneau (lamb festival), Rues en fêtes (festival in the streets), Le Passage du Fort, the medieval festival, and La Fête du vent (festival of winds).
Listed as a historical monument, the Citadel of Sisteron is an integral part of the cultural and architectural heritage of the city. It is made up of a group of military works from different periods and an underground staircase that connects it to the town. The citadel was restored following the bombing of 1944. The visit to the monument includes a visit to the museum recounting Napoleon’s passage on his return from Elba, the keep and its dungeon, an exhibition of horse-drawn vehicles, the chapel of Notre Dame du Château, dating from the 15th century, and temporary exhibitions. Every year in summer, concerts, as well as dance and theater performances are organized in the citadel for Les Nuits de la Citadelle (the night of the citadel).
Church of Notre-Dame-des Pommiers
Church of Notre-Dame-des Pommiers dates from the 12th and 13th centuries and was designed in a Provencal style with Lombard influences. It is one of the largest religious buildings in Provence. The cathedral is part of an episcopal complex alongside the Saint Thyrse church, a baptistery and a cloister reserved for canons. Inside Church of Notre-Dame-des Pommiers, you can admire various paintings, the oldest of which date back to the 16th century.
Musée Terre et Temps
Located in the former 17th century Visitandines Chapel, the Musée Terre et Temps museum brings together rare and unusual objects that recount the different techniques used to measure human and earth time. The exhibition invites you to discover, alone or with a guide, a water clock with automatons, clepsydras, Foucault’s pendulum, sundials, calendars, etc. Over the course of time, Man has created tools such as calendars, hourglasses, watches, that have become increasingly sophisticated for measuring time. The earth has also left the marks of time through the growth rings of trees, the natural radioactivity of rocks and strata that have allowed man to decrypt them.
Rocher de la Baume
The town of Sisteron faces Rocher de la Baume. The latter is a rock made up of vertical strata of limestone and folds. A hike on Rocher de la Baume will allow you to enjoy incredible views of the citadel of Sisteron and the Durance River. Discover the cave in the rock through which you can reach the top of the mountain. The site is suitable for the practice of via ferrata with walls spaced about ten meters apart. The parts between the hard ridges have, in fact, been faded by erosion.
Sisteron’s fortification towers dating from 1370 protected the old town from invaders during the Hundred Years’ War. Two of them are located near the post office and at the foot of the citadel and the three others hold a special place on the Verdun alley. Prospère Mérimée managed to save five towers from destruction: Tour du Fort, Tour de la Médisance, Tour de la Porte Sauve, Tour de Notre Dame and Tour des Gens d’Armes. Classified as Historical Monuments, they are rounded and open towards the town.
- Tourist Office of Sisteron: https://www.sisteron-buech.fr/fr
- Road service: A51 Highway (from Aix-en-Provence), RN 85 or RN 75 national road (from Grenoble)
- Air access: Marseille Provence Airport (1 hour)
- Railroad access: train station