Les Monges mountain range

« Concerning Les Monges, one could speak of infinite spaces, immense horizons, soft shaped ridges laying near the sky, but one could say a desert, the end of the world, solitary expanses, steep slopes, deep valleys, tormented reliefs.»*
* Source : Topo Massif des Monges- Réf.P041- FFRP
The mountain range of Les Monges (2115 m) is located in the north of the Alpes de Haute-Provence, between Digne-les-Bains and the Lake of Serre-Ponçon. This territory, with contrasting relief is a set of peaks culminating around 2000 m (Les Monges 2115 m, La Laupie, 2025 m, Les Cloches de Barles around 1900m) with some large bold, rocky ridges, belvedere on the valleys, with hectares of forests all around the massif. In the surroundings, valleys are cut off from their outlet by water gaps or canyons.


The landscapes of Les Monges preserve the legacy of the climatic phenomena of the last great cold periods. Thus, during the last glaciation (known as Würm from 78 000 to 13 000 years) a glacier covered the northern slopes of the summit of Les Monges.
Thanks to the geological diversity of the soil, the pastoral activity (transhumance since the Middle Ages) and the double climatic influence - Alpine and Mediterranean - Monges welcome a rich plant and animal life. Some biotopes are classified at the European level for fauna and flora interest (ZNIEFF, Natura 2000).
The Monges massif combines the peculiarities of the two climates (Mediterranean to the south-west and Alpine to the north-east): mild Mediterranean temperatures, hot and very sunny summers, light and purity of the air, freshness of the mountains. Precipitation can have the violence of the Mediterranean climate (sudden storms), winter with the presence of snow, reminds us that we are in the mountains.

Focus on...
Hike to the Lake of Les Monges

Beautiful hikes in mid-mountain (11 km / 5h) with an incredible richness in where fauna and flora. You will appreciate the beauty of its landscapes and the amplitude of its panoramas! Photography fans will love it. More information here.


Pastoralism in the Monges massif: an ancestral economic activity

Since the early Middle Ages, on the initiative of large monasteries (abbeys of Ile-Barbe in Lyon and Saint-Victor in Marseille), the transhumance leads the flocks from the plain to the mountains for 3 months, from the saint John the Baptist day (June 24) until the Saint Michael (September 29). This ancestral economic activity has deeply affected culture and landscapes of Les Monges. The herds that you will meet come from the municipalities of the massif or of Provence (Luberon, plain of Crau).
Excerpt from the testimony of Gilbert Audemar *, shepherd at Clapouse: "Indescribable! This is the only word that comes to me when I try to explain the pleasure that I experience at Clapouse, alone in the massif of Monges at 1700 meters, surrounded by my dogs, my thirty goats, my two donkeys and my 2500 ewes ". (...) "The shepherd often feels himself alone, loneliness does not affect him, his fifteen hours a day of work does not scare him neither. * from "Children of the Highlands- Book 3 / The Highlands of Provence"

Did you know ?

From the early Middle Ages, the massif for pasture belonged to the monks (in Provençal monges) of the St-Victor Abbey of Marseille. They owned many seigneuries and monastic communities. Our Lady of Bethlehem in Bayons, the Dromon's church and crypt are testimonies of this time.

Sisteron Buëch

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