Draped chaotically between two steep cliffs along the banks of the Durance, Sisteron will draw your gaze.
The allure of its citadel perched on the rocky cliff will draw you in.
And with its heritage, its beauty, its extraordinary sunshine and light, the village will make you draw out your stay.
Sisteron and the rocher de la Baume rock
Sisteron along the Durance river
Citadelle of Sisteron
Panoramic view over Sisteron and the Durance river
Aerial view of the Citadelle of Sisteron
Tower and Cathedral of Sisteron
Pasture in Haute Provence
Goatherd in Haute Provence
The citadel, a mix of diverse architecture dating from the 12th to the 19th century, is certainly the main attraction.
From the 12th century, only the powerful keep and parapet walk still exist. The ramparts were built in the 16th century, due to the Wars of Religion, and some of the gates are closed by drawbridges. Other alterations were made in the 19th century. Between 1939 and 1945, temporary buildings were constructed when the citadel was used as a prison by the Germans and the Vichy government. Bombing by the allied forces cause considerable damage to the citadel, as well as killing more than a hundred people of Sisteron.
Today, the citadel has been remarkably restored and offers guided tours, an open tour with sound system in six different languages, a film and exhibitions, among other activities.
The site is also home to two museums and the Notre Dame du Château chapel (15th cent.) with its interesting stained glass.
From the citadel's terrace, you have an extraordinary view of the old red tiled roofs of the village below all the way to the houses on the riverbank.
Of course, you must make a stop in the sublime medieval village. The historic centre of Sisteron is quite big with a warren of streets and alleys scattered with beautiful old houses, arched passageways, stairways, fountains and quite a few cafés, restaurants and boutiques.
From June to September, the sightseeing train helps you explore Sisteron and goes up to the citadel. Departures every 40 minutes from the Tourist Office.
On foot, the tour circuit is clearly signposted and takes you to all the interesting sights, such as the Clock Tower with its wrought-iron campanile and the Romanesque cathedral Notre-Dame-des-Pommiers (1160-1220) in Provençal style with Lombardian influences. Possessing three naves, it is one of the biggest religious edifices in Provence and is part of an Episcopal complex that includes the Saint-Thyrse church, a baptistry and a cloistered reserved for the canons.
If you have the time, visit the Museum of Earth and Time (Musée Terre et Temps) laid out in the old Visitandines Chapel (17th century) and devoted to measuring human time and earth time. It houses a collection of rare and unusual objects that explain the mechanisms of time: a fabulous water clock with automatons, the clepsydras, a Foucault pendulum, sundials and calendars.
In the area around Sisteron
The Tourist Office can provide you with hiking maps suited to all levels. The hiking trails cross a beautiful landscape of rolling fields of grain, prairies where horses graze, wooded hills, rocky crests and the distant alps while leading you to the minuscule but charming villages of Authon and Saint-Geniez.