Les Mées

Travel Guide - Holidays & Tourism in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

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 Tourism, holiday & travel in Les Mées
TownLes Mées
Insee code04116
AltitudeFrom 348 to 824 meters
Surface65.40 km²
Population3640 inhabitants
Density55 inhabitants/km²


Chief townDigne-les-Bains (at 24 km, 23 min)Peyruis at 5 km (7 min)
DepartmentAlpes-de-Haute-ProvenceMalijai at 5.7 km (7 min)
RegionProvence-Alpes-Côte d'AzurSearch another town


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  • History of Mées:
  • The city seems Mées keep its name from the Latin metae (cone, pyramid, terminal), etymology more than likely under the form of rocks that dominate it.
  • From the confluence of the Bléone the left bank of the Durance, the country is entirely Mées in this valley, lined with shelves, marking the passages of the Durance in geological time. The first traces of civilization discovered so far, dates back to the Neolithic era when men become farmers or herders and sedentary.
  • The Celto-Ligurian Gallic saw the arrival of the Romans, who communicate through their empire traced roads such as the Via Domitia linking Italy to Spain passing on the right bank of the Durance.
  • From the fifth century to protect against invasions, people gather around the side of the rocks of the Saint-Roch. Churches are built and two priories (now extinct). Remains the first parish church now called Saint-Roch and Notre-Dame de l'Olivier erected in the fifteenth century.
  • In 1350, the territory of Mées is subservient by Queen Jeanne Guillaume Roger de Beaufort. Religious wars will lead to serious damage. In 1562, the church of Saint-Félix is ​​shaved, Notre-Dame de l'Olivier partly burned and destroyed the castle in 1575. During the 16th century, the community will redeem all of its rights. Released from 1574, elects a member to represent the assembly of the states of Provence.
  • Therefore, peace returned, the city continues to expand beyond its walls. But a natural threat hanging over the city and is laid waste during big storms, by the torrent of Combe. Community, with the assistance of Benoit Salvator, starts between 1782 and 1788 in a tunnel "mine" through the rocks 300 meters ending by a dam site and utopian strain the resources of the province whose effectiveness was far from perfect. Finally, it was not until the late nineteenth century, the problem will be solved simply by reforestation of the surrounding hills.
  • During this century, the population density reaches its maximum and all land is cultivated. Thus, in the area of ​​the farm is installed Paillerols county school teacher new techniques where between 1865 and 1870 Louis Pasteur sojourn for research against the disease of silkworms. And to facilitate communication, a bridge over the Durance was built in 1843.
  • Nowadays, good alluvial soils and irrigation booming, make the country an agricultural land productive Mees (apples, apricots, peaches), not to mention olive initially established by the Romans in permeable ground and dry at the foot of hills and high plains, fields of lavender, sage and hyssop alternating with wheat and barley, which are a delight of colors and scents to St. John.
  • The Legend of Penitent:
  • The rocks Mées with their alignment and shape did not fail to intrigue men. Also, poets and storytellers are given their heart. Here is the legend of penitents ...
  • "This happened at a time when the Saracens invaded our country. Few lords of the neighborhood whose Rimbaud Mées decided to attack them. On a moonless night, because the lords were invaders. But in the morning, which was not their astonishment when they found themselves in a large room which frightened seven beautiful Moorish begging for mercy. It was not a question of killing, the knights do not kill women., and it was decided that Rimbaud would take care of the ship by raft Durance until Arles. He returned home with his captives, beautiful Moorish large black eyes, which revived him very human passions. Claiming the size of the Durance, he pushed the departure of beautiful and what happened in his house these days, nobody ever knew. however, the situation quickly turned foul and the prior of Paillerols decided to talk to Rimbaud. He was fired unceremoniously. then, to have peace and escape the "gent women "jealous of the power of women to almost black skin, he decided to change the place and settled in Les Mees in his castle. however, it was soon discovered and the prior of Paillerols with the prior of St. Michael this time, returned to the charge. conversation was lively, and prior to the end of arguments brandished the weapon of excommunication. Rimbaud knew where he attacked stronger than him, and despite his just because it was attached to its beautiful Moorish, he yielded. The prior, holding his hand, decided that the Saracens would be conducted in the following Sunday Durance. said that day, people gathered on the roads and monks Paillerols and St. Michael the hills a little higher, looked out of the seven Moorish castle. Profound murmurs of admiration ran through the ranks ... and the monks, hearts beat under the scapulars. What would happen ? The danger was latent. Yet, on the other side of the Durance, the great saint Donnat the hermit Lure watching his flock and saw that the situation was serious. addition, to preserve the fishing monks, he took the initiative petrify all on site in their frock. And even today, we can see that the prior has retained his cross on his chest. " Of course, this is a legend.
  • Formation of rocks
  • According to a study done in 1979 by Mr. Hubert Mercier, assistant professor in the laboratory of applied geology from the University of Provence, the formation of "Penitents of Mees' is part of the" pudding Valensole ", which dates the Quaternary, there are about 3 million years. It is a type of training conglomerate whose current appearance is the result of 3 schematically essential phases: Erosion: by circulating surface waters and lateral scour the steep and give rise to flows in cascades juxtaposed. Sedimentation during the cold period of the most intense quaternary channels previously created are filled by deposits from eluvial deposits (non-evacuated from the decomposition of rocks on site) on the surface of the plateau. Erosion: The erosion causes the recent removal of these elements and their disposal, thus separating the columns pudding and highlighting.
  • The rocks are progressively shaped, modeled throughout this period in the mass poudingue rights to appear. Paleo-river from the north brought torrential courses rocks, sands, clays torn by intense erosion, newly raised Alps. This accumulation occurred for 15 to 20 million years to the end of the Tertiary (Miocene and Pliocene). The thickness then varies from 800 to 1200 meters in places. With time and pressure, the mass solidified to form the poudingue.
  • During the Quaternary, these deposits have been eroded by runoff, rivers, frost, natural phenomenon that continues and eventually cause valleys, valleys, hills.
  • At the same time, the waters of the Durance form its valley, alluvial deposit, eat the pudding. The enormous mass resisted, emerged, and through the rain and frost, produced corridors and existing cracks chiseling rocks.
  • Geological History of rocks
  • That was 25 million years ago (Tertiary): The vulnerability of the Durance north-south axis plays again and takes this time the west side (Forcalquier, Manosque, Apt). Against this elevation, abut the ancient rivers (called: Paleo Durance Bléone paleo, paleo Asse, paleo river Verdon and had Esterel ...). Further north, the Alps are born (Pelvoux Queyras ...), immediately attacked by erosion.
  • These blocks torn, rolled pebbles and become accumulated in a delta of 60 km long and 30 km wide (area Valensole: Volonne, Worthy Laugh, Mirabeau Bridge) and the considerable thicknesses (top Rupt: 1400 m, Mées: 600 to 800 m). Limestone, dissolves in water, cements with a very hard sandstone, and rock thus formed is the poudingue. These deposits stop some two million years.
  • At the village level Mees, an area of ​​poudingue is much harder than elsewhere. It is resistant to both erosion (freezing rain) and Durance flowing at his feet and scouring the west side to reveal a vertical wall. Stormwater future emerge rocks. The alternation of glacial periods and heavy rains cause a vertical wall. Runoff worn rock at depth and expand the pre-existing cracks. Gradually the rocks become penitents. Erosion continues today even though it is less intense.


  • Circuit des Penitents walk in the rocks
  • Length: 1:45 / 4.1 km - Marking: yellow. This tour reveals the relatively short nature of the village and has its Mées rocks in its most unexpected and spectacular. It offers interesting views of the valley of the Durance, the Lure mountain and the surrounding Dévoluy. Accessible to all ages, it does not ask unless you are a walker at home on steep slopes and well shod. Happy trails!
  • 1) Starting from the place Mees, Clovis Picon up the street and follow the yellow signs. Les Mées was once a walled city relying on the rocks, you will walk along the ramparts of the old city (before the 15th century) and the various entrances of the city. At the butcher, you will encounter on your left, you will notice the watchtower and Virgil Street Pons, formerly rue Hors city, because it was outside the city walls. The next street is still called street In town and Jewry Street and the street of the rock, they delineated the medieval city. You will notice the location of different doors (St Christol door, the door and the door Baudouine Bertrand de Bras) and continue on up the Rue Clovis Picon. This street was once often overwhelmed by a torrent and you can find various works to protect homes. A note on the right, a laundry and a renovated chapel (Our Lady of La Salette) dating from the early 20th century. On the left is the chapel of St. Roch which blends into the landscape, overlooking the village and the valley of the Durance.
  • 2) At the campsite, continue on the paved road to the right until the end of the fence. Take the "wall of pines Square" which bars the valley floor, on your left. It was once intended to divert the waters of the torrent La Combe to a tunnel you will see the end. This is the Mine tunnel, he crosses the rocks and it is possible to visit for those who are equipped with a flashlight. These works were made around 1789 to avoid the ravages produced a torrent of La Combe.
  • 3) After the wall on the left take the path that goes on the rocks. The penitents are actually a conglomerate of pebbles and gravel embedded in a natural cement, cast iron accumulated ice in the Alps and the Esterel ago 25 million years and have formed over time, a real concrete called poudingue. Today the forest cover while having the greatest difficulty in settling there. Many trees uprooted by the wind and snow loads are witnesses. This forest is recent turn of the century until the rocks were bare, which explains the devastating rains that accumulated in the torrent of the ravine of La Combe.
  • 4) Once on the ridge, you are at a crossroads dominant rocks. A trail left unmarked peak can be borrowed, but it's pretty staggering, especially at the end, and it is best to retrace his steps. In its extension right, the ridge path continues until San Peyre (and return route along Bel Air). Stop for a moment and enjoy the vast panorama of the Lure mountain and the valley of the Durance. The village is on the edge of Mées Valensole. You will notice that it also continues on the other side of the Durance, including tray Ganagobie but the fault of the Durance shifted levels. You can also explore the villages of Peyruis Montfort Chateau Arnoux, the airfield and St Auban clue Sisteron, the wide bed of the Durance and the importance of orchards on the town.
  • 5) Go down a path from slightly left. Second lace, take a path on the right that goes up a monument to the memory of Jean Millet director of this trail. The trail continues to the left is pretty spectacular. It falls between the rocks, but it has undergone a strong gully making it impractical. Pursue the path that travels just above, by kinds of stairs in a forest enjoying a microclimate due to rocks that brings heat and humidity. The trail ends on a steep slope to lead to a wide forest track.
  • 6) down the forest trail starting to the left. As you walk along the rocks over a distance of about 2.5 km from the village. You can measure the magnitude and make beautiful pictures at sunset.
  • 7) By joining the paved road, take the time to seek the prior cross wooden cross ... ancient, mysterious, suspended in a niche of rock, up there in the wall, by who knows who ... You will then pass over a small bridge that is in front of the tunnel of the mine. The aqueduct received water to evacuate to the Durance was demolished to make way for a wide avenue (Avenue Robespierre).
  • 8) Continue the road along the rocks to reach the village square. If you are attentive observers and you will find in the buildings of the old medieval city, carved stones with Arms and corporate houses made with pebbles found in Durance.


Leisure activities
NameType of activityPriceTown
Hired electric bikes delivered to your doorNature and the outdoorsFrom 10 € to 140 €Sigonce (11.3 km)
Guided tour of an agro-ecological farmCulture and educationFrom 6 € to 8 €Entrepierres (18.2 km)
Bicycle hire between Verdon and LuberonSports sensationsFrom 18 € to 72 €Manosque (27 km)

All leisure activities around Les Mées


The PenitentThe Penitent
Penitents of MeesPenitents of Mees
Chapelle Saint-RochChapelle Saint-Roch
Aerial view of the villageAerial view of the village
Door eighteenthDoor eighteenth
Penitents of MeesPenitents of Mees
Penitents of MeesPenitents of Mees
Penitents of MeesPenitents of Mees
Penitents of MeesPenitents of Mees
Penitents of MeesPenitents of Mees



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Photos of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence to view and download
Photos of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur to view and download


Sunday 1 February
Min. -14°C - Max. -3°C
Monday 2 February
Min. -19°C - Max. -4°C
Tuesday 3 February
Min. -17°C - Max. -3°C


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Located 7.7 km from Les Mées64 € per person 
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French cuisine restaurantLa Magnanerie  
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447 places over 11 haCamping Sunêlia l-Hippocampe à Volonne    
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104 places over 3,5 haLa riviere  
Friendly family campsite along the river and a fishing pond,
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Auberge des Pénitents - Hotel in Les MéesAuberge des Pénitents    
Les Mées
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Located in Les MéesRoom from 59 €
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Located in the heart of Provence, in Château-Arnoux, Hotel du Chateau offers a restaurant that serves regional dishes, a terrace and a bar. The en suite rooms have a view of the village....
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