Quick guide to... Sisteron
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