The town of Forcalquier does not lack of character. It spreads nonchalantly on the steep slopes of cone shaped hill, crowned by the chapel dedicated to Notre-Dame de Provence.
Forcalquier has also inherited character from its history, it was in the Middle Ages one of the seat of one of the three earldom of Provence, capital of a quasi-independant state, spreading on the Haute Provence and the Luberon. The little city has kept a flavour of aristocratic savoir-vivre, given by the fronts the houses in the old part of the city.
Forcalquier stands on the route of the ancient Via Domitia, a vital way of trade and communication linking Italy to Spain. The weekly market of Forcalquier is one of the biggest and most animated of the region.
The living centre of Forcalquier is the "place du Bourguet", heart of the city, overruned with the market each Monday morning. The square is circumbscribed with the road, the massive shape of the cathedral Notre-Dame du Bourguet. On the opposite side, we notice the old convent of the Visitandines now converted to town hall and cinema.
Winding and narrow streets in the old Forcalquier’s city are nice to walk trough. Old houses have very nice wooden doors and doors frames, showing the wealth of their owners in the past, but now a bit decrepit and sometimes restored.
On the Saint Michel square stands a beautiful fountain in gothic style, erected in 1512. It shows some curious bas relief which from I let you the interpretation.
The ascent of the hill shaded with pines is easy. At the top stands the chapel Notre-Dame de Provence, built in 1875 in neo-byzantin style. The outlook upon the region is splendid : north on the the Lure mountain, south on the eastern Luberon crest, and east on the white summits of the Alps.
History of Forcalquier
First mention of Forcalquier dates from 9th century, the town grows around a fortified castle. Further to quarel, Sisteron’s bishop settles in Forcalquier and gives to its church the rare title of ‘concathedral.
Forcalquier becomes the capital of an earldom, spreading on Luberon and Haute Provence. The city develops and holds up 10000 inhabitants.
In the 13th century, the earl Raymond Bérenger V maried each one of his four daughter to four kings, creating the « legend of the Four queens ». The second daughter, Eleonore, married the king of england Henri III.
The significance of the city reduces when earldoms of Forcalquier and Provence are reunited by mariage. It is eventually reunited to the kingdom of France in 1481.
Forcalquier does not avoid troubles of the Religion Wars and bloody quarels between catholics and huguenots.
Subprefecture of the department of the « Basses-Alpes » after the Revolution, Forcalquier is one of the rare center of resistance to the coup d’Etat of the futur Napoleon III, resistance harshly punished.
Forcalquier is still a cultural and trading centre of the region. The city takes advantage from the economical dynamism of the Durance valley, and develops also with tourism.
Around Forcalquier are many picturesque villages : Mane, Dauphin, Cruis, Saint-Etienne les Orgues, Lurs, … just to mention some of them.
A few kilometers from Forcalquier, on the road to Fontienne, we see on the left side of the road some curious geological formations. They are called the "Mourres" a provençal word meaning "head" or "visage".
Those rocks, carved by erosion of the rain and the wind are very expressive indeed. They are the geologic vestige of a lake, laying there when the Alps did not sprang up from the earth yet. I
Coming to the Mourres near Forcalquier : GPS location N 43°58'58'' - E 5°46'27''
Accommodation in Forcalquier
Choose a guest house in à Forcalquier on the portal of the guest house in Provence
Coming to Forcalquier
GPS coordinates : N 43°57'31'' - E 5° 46'48''
Forcalquier location : altitude 545 metres above see level, 4600 inhabitants, 2 miles from Mane, 6 miles from Sigonce , 7 miles from Dauphin, 8,5 miles from Ongles, 11 miles from Saint-Etienne-les-Orgues, 14 miles from Manosque, 15 miles from Banon , 20 miles from Simiane-la-Rotonde, 25 miles from Apt, 28 miles from Sisteron, 48 miles from Aix-en-Provence, 60 miles from Avignon