Forcalquier or Authentic Provence

This village in the Alps of Upper Provence oozes authentic Provence: today it’s charm makes of it an increasingly popular haunt for people in search of relaxation in a genuine Provence. Every week it hosts Provence’s biggest market. Let’s visit!
By Caroline Taret

It’s hard not to fall in love with the village of Forcalquier, located less than an hour from Aix-en-Provence, and 20 minutes from Manosque, this village literally has views over the Lure Mountains and Durance Valley. It’s Jean Giono land, home to small local producers that produce typically Provençale artisanal marvels. It’s also a haunt for Olivier Baussan, L'OCCITANE en Provence’s founder, who draws inspiration here. When we have a closer look at the history of this village, that reunites almost 5,000 inhabitants, we understand that the appeal is nothing new. Throughout the ages, Forcalquier has participated in the major events of the history of France and of Provence: from the 12th century Forcalquier was the capital of a county that would become famous thanks to the Count of Provence Raimond Bérenger, of which the exceptional destiny of his four daughters would provide the village with the nickname “The City of the Four Queens.” These four young women would become the wives of important figures, starting with the eldest, Marguerite who would marry Saint-Louis, King of France between 1226 and 1270, and with whom she would have 11 children. Her youngest sister Beatrice would marry Saint Louis’ brother, Charles d’Anjou, King of Naples and of Sicily. The two others would take off for England: Eleanor would become the wife of Henry III, King of England, and Saucie would wed the brother to the king, Richard de Cornouailles, King of the Romans.

An incredible destiny that is intimately tied to the village. Then over the centuries, Forcalquier became the décor for historically charged moments: from the Protestant community welcomed during the Reformation and the position taken by King Henry IV in the 15th century, to the pro-Republican position during the French Revolution, up to the coup d'état by Louis Napoléon Bonaparte in the 19th century and the Camp des Milles annex from 1940. The village never seems to sleep.

Today Forcalquier is reputed for its lifestyle: when wandering through the village’s alleyways life is good, and the village is an ideal base for those who wish to discover the authentic Provence. From Volx, to Oraison, up to Banon and its famous cheese wrapped in a chestnut leaf, it’s a whole facet of Provence, far from the posh Luberon, that is worth discovering. In Forcalquier, between alleyways full of character, listed fountains, and restaurants where local produce stars on the menu, the place attracts the experts and curious of the senses. The European University of Scents & Flavors is nestled in the sumptuous Cordeliers Convent built in the 13th century: this place honors the creation of perfume, the power of taste, and reminds us of the importance of the senses in our life. Senses also put to the test of pleasure opposite the Provence distillery, which proposes notably artisanal recipes of pastis or absinthe. It’s difficult to get more Provençale! And every Monday and Thursday you can feast your senses at the Forcalquier market, famous for being the region’s biggest and most authentic. Around the Bourguet Square, two steps from the Notre-Dame Cathedral, treasures of Provence are there for the asking: local and seasonal produce, regional crafts, Provençale traditions. Just as many reasons to discover the City of the Four Queens.

Discover
Forcalquier
The markets
Around Place Bourguet
Mondays 8-14h and thursdays 15h-19h
Markets of Provence
Markets of Provence
Forcalquier
Photographies L'Occitane
Village of Provence
Village of Provence
Forcalquier
Photographies L'Occitane
Alambic
Alambic
Forcalquier
Photography José Nicolas

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