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Provence might conjure up images of rolling fields and gentle hills, but east of the Luberon you’ll find yourself travelling through altogether more dramatic landscapes. Rising like a tooth-lined jawbone along the border with Italy, just an hour’s drive north of Nice, lie the Alps – France’s most famous mountain range, a haven for mountaineers, hikers and wildlife spotters, and home to some of the region’s most unforgettable scenery.

Cloaked in snow well into springtime, the mountains of Haute-Provence are divided by six main valleys, connected by some of the highest and most hair-raising road passes anywhere in Europe – an absolute must for road-trippers. At the heart of the area sprawls the huge Parc National du Mercantour, home to a host of rare wildlife, sky-top villages and pristine natural habitats. Make sure you keep the camera close to hand: there’s a picture around every corner.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.