15 Best Activities in Gap (France)

The city of Gap sits in an epic mountain range where Provence meets the Southern Alps.

There are 3,000-meter peaks disappearing into the clouds in the background, but on the streets of Gap, with its pastel-hued houses and markets, you feel close to the Mediterranean.

The city has many attractions and museums to remember, but a lot of the magic lies in what you can do nearby.

Mountains, rivers, lakes and woodlands offer more active exercise than you can accommodate in one trip.

Try something at any time of the year, whether self-taught or in the company of an expert.

Let’s explore the best events in Gap:

1. Charlance Manor

Domaine de Charance, Gap

To truly appreciate the mountainous environment surrounding the Gap, the castle is located on 220 hectares of beautiful highland scenery.

There’s a lake, deep forest, and eerie rock formations reaching nearly 2,000 meters, all with walking trails.

The castle itself is the information centre for Ecklins National Park, to the north and east of the Gap.

There is an alpine plant greenhouse in the stables, which protects and records the plants in the mountains, and organizes specially guided walking tours in search of rare flowers.

The terraced gardens in front of the castle are spectacular and the view will stop you in your tracks.

2. Musée Muséum Départemental des Hautes-Alpes

Musée Muséum Départemental des Hautes-Alpes

After visiting this museum, you will not be left with a mystery about any aspect of art, history, archaeology or tradition in the Haute Alps.

The galleries here are varied and varied, but the most appealing is definitely the archaeological exhibits.

See treasures of Bronze Age torques, rings, daggers and fine belts.

Then continue to the stèle de Briançon, an inscribed tombstone from around the turn of the 2nd century, made of white marble and beautifully carved.

More recent, but also essential, is the huge Mausolée de François de Bonne de Lesdiguières, carved in black and white marble by Jacob Richier in the 17th century in a very naturalistic style, over four meters high.

3. Walk around the old town

Old town, Gap, France

As you stroll through the ancient streets and alleys of the Gap, the feeling that the Alps meet Provence is impossible to ignore.

Even though the roads follow the same plan as the Middle Ages, there aren’t many historic buildings.

But this is more than made up for by the abundance of whitewashed tall houses on every street.

There seems to be a fountain in almost every corner or square, each with a different personality, and a lot of understated but intriguing things: take the Grand Hôtel Lombar on Boulevard Marechal Foch, a relic of the roaring 20s Gap fits well with Europe’s elite.

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4. L’Auberge Marchand

L'Auberge Marchand Hotel

As you peruse the shops on Rue de France, keep an eye out for a plaque above one of the doorways.

At 17-19 Rue de France is the former Auberge Marchand, and as beautiful as it is, this ochre house doesn’t seem to matter…until you understand the small role it played in one of the most pivotal chapters of French history.

Napoleon spent one night here on March 5, 1815, just one hundred days before, on his way from Elba to Paris.

He chose this circuitous route through Gap because, unlike towns in the Rhone Valley, the city was loyal to him rather than to the French royal family.

5. Gap Cathedral

Gap Cathedral

The city’s medieval cathedral began to collapse in the 19th century, so a neo-Gothic replacement was built in its place and completed in 1904. In fact, there has been a religious building here since Roman times, when the Temple of Apollo stood on this site.

Just a few years after work on the newest building ceased, the cathedral was declared a French “Historic Monument”. At 70 meters high, the dominant clock tower is the tallest building in the Gap.

As you approach the façades, you will notice that they are coloured with rings of white, pink and grey limestone.

6. Chaudun Village

Shorten, France

To remember a hike, you can venture to this abandoned village in the mountains north of Gap.

In the 19th century, Chaudun had more than 100 inhabitants, but its isolated and desolate surroundings eventually forced its inhabitants to sell their lands to the state in 1891. Ironically, it’s easy to get to now, as you can drive up to the Col de Gleizé for about 15 minutes from the Gap, then walk into the forest, meadows and ravines.

Panels at the entrance to the village tell its story, a hiking hut open to the public and traces of ancient buildings are in a breathtaking void.

7. Parc de la Pépinière

Parc de la Pepinière, Gap, France

Surrounding the Musée Départemental is a restoration whose avenues are shaded by centuries-old trees.

There is an elegant wrought iron bandstand that is the stage for many events in spring and summer.

Jeudis du Kiosque is a weekly music event held on Thursdays in July and August, when musicians of all genres take to the stage.

Also in May is Gap EXPO, an international trade fair.

The rest of the time there are cool trails, picnic tables and children’s playgrounds under the lush foliage.

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8. Weekly Market

Market, Gap, France

On Saturday morning, the narrow streets and tight squares of Gap’s old core are occupied by dozens of stalls in true Provencal fashion.

Markets can be found all over Place Jean Marcelin, along rue Carnot, rue de France and rue Élysée.

So if you’re around on this day, set your alarm and scour these stalls for some fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, baked goods, regional deli, cheeses, meats, artisan specialties (honey and nougat) and freshly made snacks, such as Tourtons.

There is also an organic farmers market in the Saint-Roch district on Friday afternoon.

9. Local Food

Tourtons Ravioli

At any time of the year, you’ll be captivated by the scent of fried fish at Gap Market.

It’s a doughnut, but instead of dough, they’re a pastry filled with any number of different ingredients.

Sweet ones have apple or plum puree in them, while savory varieties have spinach, potatoes, cheese or meat.

You can find flavors of Italian cuisine in dishes such as ravioli (ravioli) and oreilles d’âne, a lasagna-style gratin that often uses crepes instead of pasta.

For cheese, there is alpine tomme, which tends to be firm, with a nutty and mushroom flavor.

10. Station Gap-Bayard

station fjord

In winter, the Gap has a healthy layer of snow, but you have to walk a bit to get to a traditional alpine ski resort.

But just 10 minutes from Centre-Ville is a snow sports centre with over 50km of cross country trails.

“The Centre d’Oxygenation will equip you with Nordic ski equipment and any lessons you need to start.

Then, with the help of a map, you’ll glide across this huge plateau guarded by the massive Chayol and Glaze peaks to inspire you.

If you can’t resist the call of these mountains, there are guided ski tours on these unknown slopes.

11. Alpine skiing

La Joue du Loup

While you’ll need to drive to one of the family ski resorts in the Southern Alps, you’ll get there in no time.

There are 7 within a 40 km radius, including Super Dévoluy/La Joue du Loup, Ancelle, Réallon and Orcières-Merlette.

Almost all of them are geared towards beginner and intermediate skiers: Dévoluy, for example, is also the most accessible pistes in Gap, with a total of 100 blue pistes for 60 km.

If you come during peak season, a day pass will set you back €35.60, and it’s well worth the plentiful sunny run and stunning views of the Southern Alps peaks from the top of the resort.

12. Gap’Aventure

Gap'Aventure

In summer, the Gap becomes the headquarters for just about every mountain activity you can think of.

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But if you’re traveling with kids, this “Accrobranche” class in seconds outside of town needs to be on your bucket list.

Once you arrive you’ll know why, as the center is located on the high slopes of the Colline de Saint Mens, with the most breathtaking views of the Gap and its surrounding peaks.

You’ll be equipped with seat belts, there are 10 hanging classes in the treetops for you to take, ziplines and rope bridges are available for everyone ages 3 and up.

13. Water Getaway

white water rafting

The Durance River cuts through the canyon and descends to the south of the Gap.

If you need an adrenaline rush, this is the invitation to whitewater rafting and canyoning.

Luckily, the city has an Eau Vive Passion Rue Cyprien Chaix branch that organizes all sorts of crazy river-based events.

Diving into a canyon or being thrown off a raft into rapids can be your nightmare, but if so, you can settle down in the crystal-clear waters of Lac de Serre-Ponçon.

There are nine beaches around the lake, sitting on a crucible hill, and many sailing centers rent paddleboards, kayaks, and rowboats.

14. Hiking

French Alps near Provence, France

Head to the tourist office at Place Jean Marcellin for a map and a route guide for the eight hikes that start in the city and meander into the mountains.

These vary in difficulty, from brisk walks through alpine forests to arduous 3,000-meter mountain climbs of steel calves.

But an easy track that almost everyone can try is Colline de Puymaure, one of the lighter hills overlooking the Gap.

You can get up and back in about 90 minutes.

At the top is a series of information panels about the two castles built here in the 1600s by the Huguenots.

15. Climbing

Falaise de Hughes

Whether you’ve been climbing walls your whole life or are just starting out, Gap is almost as good as a rock climber.

That’s because Falaise de Ceuse is only a few kilometers from the city.

This white limestone cliff on the mountain of the same name is among the top climbing locations in Europe.

A number of factors make this possible: the cliffs are more than four kilometers long horizontally and are bathed in sunlight for the most part during the day.

At its foot is a shallow grassy slope with walls of varying tenacity, ranging in height from 30 to 130 meters.

Where to stay: The best hotels in Gap, France
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