Quick guide to... Sis­teron

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Nick­named the ‘gate­way to Provence’ due to its strate­gic lo­ca­tion be­tween the Alps and the Mediter­ranean, Sis­teron lies on the Route Napoléon around 65km north of Provence’s fa­mous laven­der vil­lages. Strad­dling the River Du­rance, the pic­turesque Provençal town is an en­chant­ing blend of quaint me­dieval streets and small squares dot­ted with tin­kling foun­tains, and is dom­i­nated by its hill­top ci­tadel, which of­fers su­perb views over Sis­teron’s peach­coloured rooftops and the sur­round­ing val­ley.

What can I see and do? This pic­ture-post­card Provençal town’s fore­most at­trac­tion is its hill­top ci­tadel. Built in the 11th cen­tury and later re­mod­elled in the 13th, 16th and 19th cen­turies, this im­pos­ing mon­u­ment is to­day home to a mu­seum ded­i­cated to Napoléon Bon­a­parte. Time your visit for midJuly to mid-au­gust when the Nuits de la Ci­tadelle fes­ti­val of­fers a med­ley of mu­sic, the­atre and dance per­for­mances set against the back­drop of the fortress ram­parts. If the vig­or­ous climb to the top doesn’t ap­peal, then take a wan­der through the town’s maze of nar­row, me­dieval streets. One at­trac­tion not to miss is the Ro­manesque NotreDame-des-pom­miers church, which was once a cathe­dral and is to­day con­sid­ered one of the largest reli­gious build­ings in Provence. Just a stone’s throw from here lies the fas­ci­nat­ing Musée Terre et Temps, which ex­plores the history of mea­sur­ing the pass­ing of time in na­ture through an ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of rare and un­usual ob­jects.

Where can I eat?

For tra­di­tional French fare at rea­son­able prices try Clau­dine et Chan­tal (tel: (Fr) 9 53 70 58 49, menus from €14). This small and friendly res­tau­rant set in the heart of Sis­teron serves a range of fish and meat dishes with a slight Mediter­ranean twist, with menu favourites be­ing the lemon-soaked sole and flavour­some mar­i­nated lamb dishes.

An­other place serv­ing de­li­cious French cui­sine is Au Ro­marin (tel: (Fr) 4 92 34 88 04, menus from €23.50). Pop­u­lar dishes here in­clude chest­nutin­fused foie gras, scal­lops in a light cream sauce and pavé de saumon with juicy rata­touille.

If you just fancy a good French crêpe then Crêperie L’akène (tel: (Fr) 4 92 61 20 39, menus from €11.50) is the place for you. Set in a vaulted cel­lar op­po­site the town’s ci­tadel, this pop­u­lar crêperie serves a wide range of sweet and savoury op­tions, with flavours rang­ing from cheese and ba­con to stewed ap­ple and Chan­tilly cream. Visit in the win­ter months and savour cheese-laden moun­tain spe­cial­i­ties in­clud­ing raclette, fon­due and tar­ti­flette.

Where should I stay? Book into the cen­trally lo­cated Grand Hô­tel du Cours, which comes with well-ap­pointed rooms and a tra­di­tional res­tau­rant com­plete with ter­rasse (rooms from €80, hotel­le­cours.com).

Get me there!

The near­est air­port is Mar­seille Provence, which is 127km south­east of Sis­teron with reg­u­lar flights to the UK. Sis­teron is a 9hr 30min drive from the north­ern ferry ports.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit sis­teron-tourisme.fr

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