Contemporary Art in the Valley
In the wild landscapes of the low-alpine massif, many internationally renowned artists have created works of art. Installed in nature, these works are inspired by the specific features of the territory (natural, historical, cultural, social, etc.) which they seek to highlight.
Since 1995, the Gassendi Museum has been the initiator and driving force behind the invitation of artists and the installation of contemporary artworks outdoors. Today, this atypical collection of works stretches over the entire territory of the Haute Provence Natural Geological Reserve (2300km2)! Thanks to Nadine Gomez, curator of the museum, we can now combine the pleasure of hiking and getting to know various artists right from our gîte or bed and breakfast, starting with Andy Goldsworthy, but also not forgetting herman de vries, Paul-Armand Gette, Richard Nonas, Mark Dion, Joan Fontcuberta, Stéphane Bérard, Trevor Gould…
The association “L’art en chemin” can take you on single or multi-day tours of the valley.
Refuge d’Art is a ten-day hiking route (150km) in the region around Digne conceived by Andy Goldsworthy. The route takes old paths that will allow you to come across traces of a once intense agricultural life. The artist wanted to punctuate this route with “refuges” – old ruined buildings belonging to unprotected rural heritage (chapels, farms, farmhouses…). Restored, these dwellings shelter hikers for a stopover or a night. A sculpture, designed specifically for each of these sites, is now an integral part of the building.
The territory around Digne now has the largest collection of Andy Goldsworthy’s artworks in the world. Refuge d’Art is to be discovered over several days: from Refuge to Refuge, or from one “Sentinel” to another. From the gîte Le Galabre or from our bed and breakfast, you can discover them all via day hikes.
herman de vries
herman de vries was born in 1931 in Alkmaar in the Netherlands and lives and works in Eschenau, Germany. His works are closely linked to the contemplation of nature. Having gradually abandoned his job as a naturalist to devote himself to art, the artist strives to demonstrate the universality of the landscape and the primary reality of nature. His view of the world id strongly influenced by Eastern (particularly Buddhist and Hindu) philosophy. “Nature is art,” he says, because it is in perpetual creation. His “traces” are short texts the artist disperses throughout the landscape like little “fragments of philosophy”. These texts have not been mindlessly left in nature (in forests and the wilderness). A relationship exists from one “trace” to another. The texts are engraved in stone and the height of the characters are only between 2.5 to 4cm. His “points” or dots are discreetly placed in harmony with the landscape. According to the artist, “the point in space is a place for argument”. Spatial point, starting point, viewpoint… you will visit the best of these from our gîte or bed and breakfast in our opinion!
The Promenade Museum and the Haute Provence UNESCO Geopark
Come, simply to stroll along the paths, observe butterflies and admire works of art, or to learn the geological history of the region… These are among the promises of the Promenade Museum. Internationally renowned artists, such as Andy Goldsworthy, Joan Fontcuberta, Sylvie Bussières and Agathe Larpent, have drawn their inspiration from here. Rising above Digne from the top of its tuff peak, this creative space immerses the visitor in a relaxed atmosphere that leads to the heart of the memory of the Earth. In the exhibition rooms of the museum, 300 million years of the Earth’s history (and that of the alpine ocean) pass before our eyes. Tropical marine aquariums bring together living and colourful species alongside their fossilised ammonite and ichthyosaur ancestors.
In the park of the Promenade Museum, the Japanese Garden of Kamaïshi, conceived in homage to the twin towns of Digne and Kamaïshi, immerses the visitor into a gentle meditative stroll. (An access ramp is available for people with restricted mobility.)
The Butterfly Trail
The museum, with its waterfalls and landscaped stone terraces, is home to more than 139 species of butterflies. In this particular environment, at the limit of the Mediterranean and Alpine climate, butterflies flutter about freely, and can be observed from spring to autumn.
A project on the European scale, the VIAPAC contemporary art route connects the towns of Digne-les-Bains to Caraglio (Italy), thanks to the works of twelve contemporary artists. The works were produced specifically for the places in which they are located (natural sites, heritage buildings). They serve as keys to understanding the identity of this lower Alpine territory in an original way. VIAPAC offers the discovery of works along a route passing through the Barles Water Gaps, the Saint-Jean and the Larche mountain passes, creating route of contemporary art in order to contribute to tourism and cultural development. You can begin the route at La Robine from out gîte or bed or guest room. From Digne to Caraglio: Paul-Armand Gette, Joan Fontcuberta, Richar Nona, Stéphane Bérard, Mark Dion, Jean-Luc Vilmouth and Ravid Renaud in France; and David March, Paolo Grassino, Pavel Schmidt, Victor Gonzales Lopez and Pascal Bernier in the Italian portion of the route.