The village of Les Mées inevitably catches your eye. How many of you have passed on the motorway between Manosque and Sisteron and, on seeing the Penitents in the Durance valley below, said to yourself: "one day I'll have to stop there". This is what we did for you.
Brief history of the village of Les Mées
The village of Les Mées entered history at the end of the 11th century. Its territory was divided between the lands belonging to the abbeys of Saint-Victor de Marseille, the abbey of Boscodon and the priory of Ganagobie. It is attested that in the 13th century Les Mées was a fortified place and derived part of its wealth from the toll on the road leading to the Bléone valley and to Digne, as well as from the cultivation of the olive tree.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the commune slowly took control of its destiny by buying out the seigneurial rights. It did not escape the Wars of Religion, nor the upheavals of the Great Revolution, nor the severe repression that followed the resistance to the coup d'état of 2 December 1851. But from these events, a strong attachment to the Republic was born in the commune.
The penitents of Les Mées
A listed site since 1941, the penitents dominate the village of Les Mées and make its reputation. It is a very particular geological formation which evokes a group of hooded monks. It forms a block 2.5km long and, at most, 114m high. The Penitents belong to the substratum of the Valensole formation, an accumulation of several hundred metres of sub-alpine debris brought there at the end of the Miocene and Pilocene (about 5 million years ago). These shapes are the result of erosion, the rock is not of constant hardness. The most fragile areas were therefore eroded more quickly and gave rise to the Penitents that can be admired today.
Hiking in Les Mées
From the village of Les Mées, with your family or friends, follow the Pénitents des Mées trail. It takes about 2 hours on an easy 4.70km path forming a loop. From the village, you can go directly to the Penitents via the Saint-Roch chapel. This is the most beautiful part of the walk. The path winds along the ridge and offers a spectacular view of the Penitents and the Durance valley. Further on, the path goes into the forest and begins a 187-metre descent before leading you back to the village along the Pénitents from below.
Mountain bike routes in Les Mées
From the village of Les Mées there are several mountain bike routes to enjoy. They are indicated in the village. There is something for everyone, from the easy 10km route called the "Tour des vergers de Provence" to the more difficult "Le grand tour des Pénitents" which will take you through Malijai and back to the solar panel farm, passing through the olive groves for which the region is famous.
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Les Eaux Chaudes, campsite in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence