Other things to do in the Laragne region Alternative activities for the non flyers

There is a wide range of activities available in the Laragne - Chabre area, for families, friends and for pilots (on those rare non-flyable days). Explore the medieval streets of the local towns and villages. Take a dip at one of many local lakes and pools. Visit the famous Provençal attractions including Aix en Provence and the Verdon Gorge, just over an hour away. Or try one of a huge array of sports and outdoor leisure activities available including karting and kite surfing, rock climbing and mountain biking, horse riding and kayaking.

Local Towns and villages

Laragne is a small market town (every Thursday morning) and offers all the basic facilities including doctors and chemists, banks, restaurants, cafes, supermarkets and a wide range of shops selling local produce such as goat and sheep cheeses for which the area is famed.

Nearby Ribiers is the largest of the local villages and centre of the local Communaute which owns Laragne-Chabre. It is a typical Provençal village with local shops and bars, and the best Pizza Restaurant in the area. Ribiers has a large open air swimming pool/plan d'eau open in July & August. And of course there's the mandatory boules pitch with weekly competitions in the summer.

Sisteron town (15 km) has a dramatic setting. With rock faces forming a steep gorge for the river, it made a perfect place to defend the old route into, and out of, Provence and has been fortified since early history. The Citadel, open to the public, is set high on the rock above the medieval streets, lined with restaurants, shops and bars. There's a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Visit the cathedral and museum, and look out for exhibitions, concerts and special events. Sisteron has its own Plan d'eau, life-guarded, with nearby tennis, skate park, basketball and sun-bathing areas beside the river.

Gap (40 min drive) is the local county town and whilst not large, (30 000 population) has all the local amenities: hypermarkets, hospital, theatre, indoor pool, shopping, restaurants, Irish Bar (with real stout). Being the county town it is always bustling and worth a visit just to sample the local ambiance. Gap is set in a magnificent amphitheatre of mountains, notably the Ecrins national park to the North.

Relaxing locally:

Just 5 km up the road from Laragne, is the beautiful Meouge gorge nature reserve, with lovely swimming spots, waterfalls, and lots of footpaths to explore. If swimming is your way of relaxing, then the area boasts many lakes, called 'Plan d'eau'. Some are specifically designed and built as true 'beaches of the mountains', with swimming (lifeguards watching the children's area), pedalos to rent, playground, shady picnic areas, bar/café and beautiful views of the mountains to boot.

The Geological reserve, the largest of its kind in Europe extends up to Sisteron, with museums at both Sisteron and Digne - great displays of fossils. The Route de Terre et Temps is a route through the reserve from which are signposted and marked features of interest and walks to visit some of the special formations, fossils and rocks within the reserve.

Other tourist routes in the region include the Route des Fruits et Vins, passing orchards and vineyards, with farms selling local produce including local wine. The Route de Lavande takes you into the heart of Provence, past fields of lavender, making stunning photographs in July and August when in full flower. An excellent way to see some of the fascinating villages is to follow the Route des Cadrans Solaires (sun dials). There are some fascinating designs, both traditional and modern.

Active Interests:

At Sisteron there is a recently built aerial ropeway through the trees around the Citadel - great fun for kids and adults too with graded sections including a 'black run'. Not far up the road towards St Geniez is the Animal park which gets an excellent rating from those who have visited with children. There's Karting en route to the huge Lac Serre Poncon, and the lake itself hosts a wide range of water-based activities including sailing, kite-surfing and wind-surfing. The rivers feeding the lake are great for kayaking and white-water rafting, hydrospeed or gorge walking.

Horse riding is a popular activity in the area. Take one hour, one day or many-day excursions on way-marked trails with or without a guide.

Rock climbing is a specialty of the region. Climbers will have heard of Orpierre and Ceuse, and these local centres live up to their reputation of well-organised, well-protected and accessible climbing - extremely challenging in places. But look out for other smaller, and just as interesting climbing areas at Sigottier and Buis les Baronnies. For those without the gear, but would like to have a go, why not try the Via Ferrata at La Motte du Caire. You can hire the equipment and use the fixed ropes and ladders in place to stay safe.

As well as paragliding and hang gliding, sailplanes, microlights and light aircraft share the skies in the Laragne region. These pilots all regard the area as one of the best in Europe when it comes to reliable weather and good facilities. Take a trip, as a passenger, in a sailplane and travel over the Alps to Switzerland and Italy, and back in a day! Nearby Tallard is one of France's premier sites for parachuting, and jumpers can often be seen tumbling from 'planes, and landing gently on the target at the airfield. Tandem skydiving is also possible.

There are miles of marked walking and cycling routes, either in the hills and forests, or winding gently along lanes and tracks between villages in the valleys. The Ecrin is the second highest massif in France after Mont Blanc, reaching 4000m, but unlike Mont Blanc is almost devoid of habitation. For many, its appeal is the ability to walk for days on deserted paths between scattered refuges.

The mountain bike trails (over 1000km of marked trails in the local Vallée de Buech area alone) are generally graded from green to black in much the same way as ski runs. Walks are also waymarked and several GR (Grand Randonnees) and PR routes pass through the area.

The wildlife is abundant with deer, wild boar and mountain goats in abundance. The more adventurous can visit the Ecrins or Alps to the North and East, in search of wolves or Marmottes. The birdlife is incredibly varied, with birds of prey in the higher terrain including buzzards, short-toed eagles and even golden eagles. Herons and grebes stay closer to the rivers and lakes, while red kites soar overhead. Nearby, at Remuazat, Vulture colonies have been successfully re-established and can be seen daily either leaving on the first morning thermals in search of food or returning in the evenings as they all switch off when the air cools.

There are a number of botanical gardens and specialist naturalist centres in the area. The unique geology of the region and the varied terrain provides many natural habitats for different species of flowers, grasses and trees, from high mountains, river valleys and the local 'garrigue' with wild thyme, rosemary, lavender and savory.