The mountainous Hautes-Alpes is the highest department in France. At the same time it is a versatile region with many options for both a sporting and cultural holiday.
The capital of the department is Gap. The beautiful houses in pastel shades and the pleasant shopping streets make a visit to this city definitely worthwhile. Worth seeing are the botanical garden and the old cathedral. On Wednesday and Saturday there is a large market with local products in the car-free center. Gap is also known as the crossroads of major tourist routes, including the famous Route Napoléon. The road the famous general chose in 1815 for his return from exile on Elba is still a good way to explore the mountain ranges of the Hautes-Alpes.
The other larger city in the department is Briançon. Little has changed in the course of time with this fortress built by the famous architect Vauban, the man responsible for more forts and defenses in France. The mountainous terrain required the necessary inventiveness of the master builder. For example, he had to cleverly adapt the defensive walls to the different heights. Together with the fort Mont-Dauphin, this fortified city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Hautes-Alpes department is home to the largest, best-known and most beautiful ski resorts in France. You can ski well in the surroundings of the characteristic village of La Grave, where the slopes with a height difference of 2150 meters descend over almost nine kilometers. There are also hundreds of kilometers of slopes at Serre Chevalier, Montgenèvre, Puy Saint-Vincent, Les Orres, Orcières Merlette and La Joue Du Loup. The snow slopes are a great challenge for both the seasoned ski enthusiast and the novice skier. Various ski areas have the designation "Famille Plus", an independent assessment that means that families with children can go here.
In the summer there are plenty of opportunities for sports such as paragliding, hang-gliding or parachuting. If you want to take it easy, you can opt for a balloon ride over the snow-covered peaks. Hikers and cyclists will also enjoy themselves in the Hautes-Alpes. Gap has been the end point of the Tour de France several times. Other beautiful walking and cycling routes are located in the three nature parks that the department has. The Ecrins National Park is best known, but cyclists and hikers also find peace and beautiful nature in the regional parks of Queras and Baronnies Provençales.