Are you planning a getaway in the south of France to visit Castellane? Discover why and how this little Provencal jewel will amaze you!
A treasure protected by the Verdon and the mountains, Castellane is nestled between the Mediterranean and the Alps. Castellane is divided between the alpine freshness and the sweetness of Provence.
The experience of visiting Castellane is like tasting a delicious blend of spices. You discover an implausible but wonderful character… Now that we have aroused your curiosity learn everything you need to know to visit Castellane!
Castellane Travel Guide: Is Castellane Worth Visiting?
Castellane, in a few words
A small town of barely 1,500 inhabitants, Castellane is nevertheless the sub-prefecture of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department. The City of History, the first inhabitants of the area date back 40 million years!!
These are fossils of marine mammals that you can observe for yourself, at the origin of the legend of mermaids… As for men, their presence is dated to six centuries before our era.
Castellane has seen and experienced many things over the centuries, which today gives it its unique character.
So, Is Castellane worth visiting? Of course, it is. Labeled “Villages and cities of character” for its landscape and architectural heritage, it is also enhanced by the nature that surrounds or crosses it!
This is the case of the Verdon River, whose famous gorges are found nearby.
Castellane has everything of a charming small Provencal village, bordered by alpine mountains. A great coolness and the heat of the south punctuate the atmosphere of the place.
It has several places to see, such as the churches of the Sacred Heart and Saint-Victor de Castellane, the Clock Tower, and the Gate of the Annunciation.
A visit to Castellane also means finding remnants of the city’s military past: walls built to fortify the city, which had 14 towers, most of which are no longer visible.
Petra Castellana, that’s its name, is still visible above Castellane and a pentagonal tower.
You will also appreciate the small squares of the city. Together with the sun, they become the perfect place to stop and cool off.
Speaking of cooling off, don’t miss the banks of the Verdon, a river that runs through the city.
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Emblem of the city, the chapel of Notre-Dame du Roc overlooks Castellane from the top of 184 meters above sea level. Its origin is not yet determined, but in any case, it is an ancient chapel, dating at least from the twelfth century.
A hiking trail of about 40 minutes, accessible to children, provides access. The chapel, its water point, and of course, its panoramic view of the city and its valley.
Admission is free. You can even ring the bell!
On the way, do not miss the Pont du Roc, at the foot of the latter, spanning the Verdon. Accessible only to pedestrians, it is an opportunity to observe the famous river. Its initial construction, in wood, dates from the year 812.
But after some setbacks, it was rebuilt in stone in 1404 (in 1815, it even saw Napoleon I cross it)!
Famous in Europe, the Gorges du Verdon attracts thousands of people every year. And for a good reason! The Verdon River has carved out the limestone mountains over the millennia.
So today, we are faced with a natural wonder like no other. The part near Castellane constitutes the pre-gorges, and it is by continuing towards Pont-de-Soleil and La Palud-Sur-Verdon, that we find the Gorges strictly speaking.
They are the perfect place to indulge in canyoning, rafting, climbing, and other water hikes.
Some areas are awe-inspiring. This is the case of the Styx du Verdon and the Imbut.
The first represents a kind of mini canyon in the canyon, and for the second, the Verdon disappears squarely underground, hidden by huge rocks!
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As mentioned above, the Verdon and its Gorges lend themselves particularly well to sports activities.
Like rafting and canyoning! Two activities are widespread in the region. Walk the water, learn to tame it, and listen to it!
Many service providers make it possible to make outings on the river, to discover the gorges and their natural specificities (fauna, flora, geology).
Because if you are put to the test of the currents, you will discover everything that surrounds you!
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Castellane is located in the middle of two important natural points: the Verdon Regional Natural Park and the Haute-Provence Geological Reserve.
Take advantage of this opportunity to explore both areas and discover what nature offers!
Limestone, river, lavender fields, cliffs, and forests make up a formidable natural picture spread over 188,000 hectares in the park.
The geological reserve covers nearly 200,000 hectares and concerns, among other things, the pleated arch of Castellane.
Its purpose is to protect these geological sites from human deterioration and promote respect and preservation of the place.
Located in the north of the city, near the Baume, the Dolmen des Pierres Blanches is the oldest site in the Castellan territory. Its origins date back to the Neolithic, about 2500 BC!
It is a site of limestone rock, typical of the region. It is said to have served as a burial chamber, and many bones have been found there and ornaments and jewelry.
Hiking or cycling trails allow you to reach the place easily.
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Castellane is also a cultural town. It has three museums that you must visit. The first, the Museum of the Resistance, traces the region’s history at the time of the Second World War and has important collections of objects, among the most important in Europe!
The second, the Citromuseum, is intended for lovers of old cars and the history of the automobile. It exhibits some 120 post-war Citroën models for an almost fantastic leap in time.
The third, the Maison Nature & Patrimoine, is dedicated to the nature of Castellan with a permanent exhibition, “Sirens and Fossils.” This museum also organizes animations, outings, and discovery workshops.
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Here is an activity you can do to discover Castellane and its region if you know how to stand on a board and paddle while maintaining your balance.
The stand-up paddle works on a straightforward principle: a board, a paddle, etc. The Verdon lakes are yours!
Surrounded by limestone cliffs, green nature, and floating on hot turquoise water, this will leave you with delicious memories!
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Transhumance is a true Alpine tradition that even Castellane practices. It is an annual procession that sees herds (often cows or sheep) migrate from winter pastures to summer green pastures.
The animals are decorated and highlighted with floral ornaments depending on the region. It’s a lovely show to watch!
It takes place in June, and the city of Castellane is embellished by animations, demonstrations, and workshops around the practice of transhumance.
Above the Verdon, valley stands proudly huge pale rocks adorned with greenery: the Cadières de Brandis. They can be discovered through several hiking routes.
But it is well worth the candle because the landscape offered to you is unmissable. To say the least amazing, these rocks are another way to visit Castellane.
From the heights, embrace the valleys, mountains, and hills that form the pre-Alpine relief, at nearly 1,500 meters above sea level. Also, enjoy the clean air that you will be able to breathe at the top of your lungs!
On-site or to take away, tasty surprises await you in Castellane. Local cuisine, based on fresh products, some Castellan cuisines will delight your taste buds.
With the Verdon in the background, don’t hesitate to consider staying at these establishments that we recommend.
This establishment provides a warm welcome, a delicious menu, and a beautiful setting, making it one of the best places to eat in Castellane. Its pink façade that contrasts with the surrounding greenery set it apart from the landscape.
And yet, it is with local and fresh products; the Master Restaurateur works to offer delicious and gourmet dishes. On the experience side, customers testify to an excellent time spent at this table!
On the edge of a small plot in the center of Castellane, discover Côté Fontaine. This small restaurant serves elaborate dishes and pancakes at a very affordable price.
The plates are hearty and imbued with ambient generosity. The establishment has the appearance of a local bistro, making it feel very pleasant and friendly.
Freshness and generosity characterize the Nature Café very well. A very pleasant place to eat in Castellane.
It is with good products that he seduces his customers. Plates are filled, and the menu changes every day, a sign of freshness and undeniable quality.
You will find this restaurant at the bend of a small street in Castellane.
When you visit Castellane, you are close to several cities, such as Draguignan, Digne-les-Bains or Manosque. Their size becomes modest if we look farther and push as far as Nice or Marseille.
Just 100 kilometers from Castellane, Nice is probably its easiest access. All of France very well serve the nice airport and to find the perfect flight, help yourself with a comparator like Skyscanner.
You can then reach Castellane by rental car, following a journey of fewer than two hours.
You also choose the Nice train station for the same duration, which has a direct Nice-Castellane line provided by the Chemins de Fer de Provence.
On the other hand, if you prefer to arrive in Aix-en-Provence or Marseille, respectively 150 and 190 kilometers, plan a little more travel time, between 2 hours and 2h 30 min.
As for rail transport, they will take you through Digne-les-Bains. For schedules, inquire on the website of the Chemins de Fer de Provence because they are subject to change.
Castellane’s accommodation offer is complete! Benefiting from the Provencal climate that we know so well and a large area, it has several campsites.
You will inevitably find happiness on the banks of the Verdon, with its swimming pool and quiet environment.
But Castellane also offers cottages, inns, and traditional or unusual hotels. A hotel comparator will help you see more clearly and define what you want for your stay in Castellane.
The Airbnb experience is also possible throughout Castellane, not just the village itself, for those who like to feel at home.
The prices fluctuate depending on the standing and comfort of the place, as is the case everywhere, as are the types of services available. It will be up to you to compose according to your purse and desires!
You are ready to visit Castellane, the village in the heart of the mountains, on the banks of the Verdon, and the edge of Provence!