The Most Beautiful Photos to Take in the Ubaye Valley

Complete guide to photography in the Ubaye Valley, the best spots and all the technical advice to come back with the most beautiful shots


The Ubaye Valley, a treasure nestled in the heart of Alpes de Haute Provence, offers a multitude of breathtaking landscapes, the aquatic immensity of the Serre-Ponçon Lake with dizzying peaks that rise proudly towards the sky. This secret valley is a paradise for photographers looking for unique shots, mixing the white water of its tumultuous rivers with the tranquility of its high-altitude lakes. Through this article, embark on a visual journey, discovering the most photogenic spots in the Ubaye Valley, where each view seems to have been specially designed to capture the essence of nature at its most majestic.

Whether you are an adventurer seeking adrenaline on the Ubaye rapids, a solitary hiker exploring the winding paths of the high mountains, or simply a nature lover in search of tranquility... The Ubaye Valley has moments of pure beauty in store for you, infinitely captureable through your camera lens. Discover Lake Serre-Ponçon, a marvel where water and sky merge in a ballet of reflections, the Ubaye rapids, where white water offers a striking spectacle of power and beauty, hiking trails which reveal breathtaking panoramas, accessible only to the most courageous, aerial adventures, for those who want to capture the valley from the air, and finally, the villages of the Valley, where history and culture mingle with the landscape to offer scenes of unparalleled richness.

1. Lake Serre-Ponçon: A Mirror of Water between Mountains

THE Serre-Ponçon Lake, a true jewel of the Alpes de Haute Provence, presents itself as an immense mirror reflecting the snow-capped peaks and azure skies. Photographers will find an idyllic setting at any time of day, with sunrises and sunsets offering changing lights over the lake and surrounding mountains. Exploring its shores allows you to discover a variety of compositions, from discreet beaches to high viewpoints offering breathtaking panoramas.

Location and Access

Easily accessible, Lake Serre-Ponçon is located at the crossroads between the Hautes-Alpes and the Alpes de Haute Provence, thus offering several access points for visitors. Picturesque villages like Savines-le-Lac offer a good starting point for exploring the lakeshore.

St Michel Chapel, located in the Ubaye Valley, is an emblematic site which attracts many visitors and photographers. Initially built in the 12th century on a hill in the Durance valley, it was rebuilt in the 17th century after being destroyed in 1692. It then became an important place of pilgrimage for local parishioners.

Particularly remarkable, the chapel became a symbol of Lake Serre-Ponçon, especially after the construction of the dam in the 1960s, which led to the submergence of several surrounding areas. The chapel's elevated position on a promontory helped protect it from water, and today it is accessible on foot in spring, when the water level is sufficiently low.

For those interested in history and photography, the Chapelle St Michel not only offers insight into local history, but also spectacular views that make it the most photographed site in the region. Its visit is often combined with boat trips around the lake, providing unique perspectives and opportunities to capture its picturesque beauty.

Magic Moments

Dawn and dusk are prime times to capture the lake in all its splendor. Soft morning light reveals the textures of the water and mountains, while the setting sun envelops the landscape in warm, golden hues.

Photographic Activities

In addition to landscapes, the lake is a playground for photographing water activities, natural light portraits and scenes of waterside life. Seasonal variations also offer renewed perspectives, with landscapes transforming over the months.

2. The Ubaye Rapids: Capturing the Energy of White Water

The Ubaye Valley is renowned for its tumultuous waterways, offering photographers a living spectacle of the energy of white water. The Ubaye rapids, with their white foam and crystal clear waters, contrast magnificently with the intense green of the surrounding alpine forests and the deep blue of the sky. Whether from the shore or a sinking boat, every moment is an opportunity to capture scenes full of movement and emotion.

Rafting and Kayak Spot

Considered one of the most beautiful rivers for rafting in Europe, the Ubaye attracts fans of white water sports. Launch points like Lauzet-Ubaye and Méolans-Revel are ideal places to photograph boats in the rapids.

Sports Photography Techniques

Photographing white water sports requires a certain amount of preparation: favor a high shutter speed to freeze the action and good positioning to capture facial expressions and the dynamics of movements.

Safety and Respect for the Environment

While searching for the perfect shot, it is essential to respect safety and environmental protection rules. Keep a respectful distance from the water and athletes, and be careful not to leave any trace of your passage.

Location and Access

The old Roman bridge of Lauzet-Ubaye, classified as a historic monument, is an iconic site that attracts photography enthusiasts, particularly those interested in water activities like the rafting. Dating from the 13th century, this bridge is an architectural feat. With its sturdy structure and historic charm, the bridge provides a picturesque setting and is often used as a backdrop for photos of whitewater sports practiced on the Ubaye River.

You will find it at the entrance to the village of Lauzet from Barcelonnette, on the right immediately after the gendarmerie. This spot is not only a popular place for photography, but also for outdoor activities. Ubaye, known for its trails rafting And hydrospeed among the most demanding in Europe, offers thrills to adventurers while allowing them to capture spectacular images of the rapids and the surrounding alpine environment​

3. Hiking Trails: Panoramas and Local Fauna

The Ubaye Valley is discovered step by step, revealing spectacular panoramic views and rich wildlife at every turn. Hiking trails wind through the valley, offering unique opportunities to capture the wild beauty of the Alps. From observing curious marmots to immortalizing high-altitude lakes shimmering in the sun, each hike is a photographic adventure.

Recommended Routes

Trails accessible to hikers of all levels lead to breathtaking viewpoints. The Chambeyron tour, for example, offers an immersion in an Alpine landscape where water and rock sculpt the scenery.

  • Cayolle Lake Trail : This trail is perfect for capturing the picturesque beauty of Lac de la Cayolle. With a moderate level of difficulty, the hike extends for approximately 7.36 km and includes a total elevation gain of 360 meters, offering splendid views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
  • The Lake of Nine Colors is a spectacular hiking destination in the Ubaye Valley, located in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. This glacial lake, nestled at an altitude of 2,841 meters, is surrounded by impressive peaks such as Pointe des Cirques and Brec de l'Homme. The path to reach the lake begins at the hamlet of Fouillouse and passes several glacial lakes before reaching the Lac des Neuf Couleurs. The hike is rated difficult due to its elevation and the length of the route, which is approximately 18 km with an elevation gain of 1,074 meters. It takes approximately 8 hours to complete this hike.
  • GR 56 – Ubaye Tour : This complete trail is an excellent way to discover the diverse landscapes of the Ubaye Valley and the Mercantour National Park. It includes major points of interest such as Mont Pelat, Lac d'Allos, and Col de la Cayolle, offering varied and photogenic terrain.

Wildlife Encounters

Ubaye is a habitat for a varied fauna. High altitude lakes, such as the Lake of Nine Colors or Lake Lauzannier (more easily accessible with family for example), are ideal places to observe and photograph marmots, chamois and a multitude of birds in the great outdoors. As always in nature photography, share moments with the animals through your lens, but don't get too close and never feed the wildlife.

Hiking and Photography Tips

For photographic hikes, prepare your equipment accordingly: opt for versatile lenses, don't forget your filters and choose a lightweight tripod. Dawn and dusk are magical times, when the light enhances the landscapes.

4. Aerial Adventures: Ziplines and Treetop Rides

There Ubaye Valley offers more than just a land-based playground; it also invites you to explore the skies. Aerial courses, including zip lines and treetop adventure courses, offer unique perspectives on the valley. These aerial adventures capture impressive images, from panoramic views of the alpine landscape to action portraits suspended in the air.

Seen from above

THE zip lines crossing the valley offer an unparalleled experience and view. Swinging above the Ubaye not only provides a dose of adrenaline but also the opportunity to take spectacular shots from a completely different angle.

Course Selection

Adventure courses, such asAdventure Park, offer different levels of difficulty, allowing everyone, from beginners to experienced adventurers, to find a route adapted to their search for sensations and landscapes to photograph.

Capturing the Thrill of Adventure

Photographing people in action on the trails requires a keen eye and precise timing. Capturing the expression of joy or intense concentration on faces while descending or crossing obstacles provides unique and personal moments.

5. The Villages of the Valley: History and Heritage in Pictures

The Ubaye Valley is not just about its breathtaking natural landscapes; it is also rich in a historical and cultural heritage deeply rooted in its villages. Of the " mexican villas " of Barcelonnette With millennia-old fortifications scattered across the valley, every corner holds captivating stories, providing unique opportunities for documentary and architectural photography.

Discovery of the Villages

Barcelonnette, Jausiers, And Méolans-Revel are perfect examples where history meets natural beauty. These villages offer unique photographic perspectives, from finely crafted architectural details to overviews showing houses and churches set against a backdrop of imposing mountains.

Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye, the village is the highest in the Alpes de Haute Provence region and is distinguished by its alpine landscapes and traditional architecture. It is an ideal starting point for hikes and mountain activities. Stop on the road to photograph the incredible Châtelet Bridge. This bridge is famous for its spectacular architecture and picturesque location. Located near Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye, it offers magnificent views of the valley and is a passing point for those heading to other local attractions like Maljasset. The Pont du Châtelet is often visited by those who appreciate both the history and the challenges of hiking in imposing natural settings.

Architecture and Traditions

THE " mexican villas », testimonies of the Mexican adventure of the inhabitants of the valley, offer a rich photographic subject. Their unique architecture tells the story of a bygone era, while local traditions, still alive, are manifested in festivals and markets.

Human Encounters

Photographing local inhabitants and artisans in their daily lives or during traditional festivals allows you to capture the soul of the Ubaye Valley. These portraits and life scenes offer an intimate look at the culture and way of life of the mountain people.

Conclusion

The Ubaye Valley, with its breathtaking landscapes and cultural richness, offers an infinite number of subjects to photograph, from grandiose panoramas of mountains and high-altitude lakes to authentic moments of life in the villages. The places mentioned in this article are just a glimpse of the wonders you can discover and immortalize. Each path, each river, and each village carries with it a story, an emotion to capture and share.

We encourage you to explore the Ubaye Valley beyond the classic clichés, in search of these unique moments which tell of your own experience of this exceptional territory. And once these moments have been captured, don't hesitate to share your experiences and photos on social networks or dedicated platforms. Let others discover the beauty of Ubaye through your eyes and inspire them to create their own photographic adventures in the Alpes de Haute Provence.

Lake Serre-Ponçon reveals all its splendor at sunrise and sunset, when the colors of the sky are reflected in the water. These moments offer soft, golden light, ideal for breathtaking photographs. The blue hour, just before sunrise or after sunset, is also ideal for capturing the tranquility of the lake in a mystical ambiance.

To capture the energy of the Ubaye Rapids in photography, it is essential to use specific techniques and settings that highlight the movement and dynamics of the water. Here are some detailed technical approaches:

  1. Choice of lens :
    • Use a wide-angle lens to capture the extent of the rapids and their environmental context.
    • A telephoto lens can be useful for isolating specific details like splashes or water movement.
  2. Camera settings :
    • Shutter speed : Use a fast shutter speed (1/500 sec or faster) to freeze the movement of water and capture sharp splashes. For a film effect (water that appears soft and smooth), opt for a slow shutter speed (1/15 sec or slower).
    • Opening : A medium to small aperture (f/8 to f/16) will ensure enough depth of field to keep the entire scene in focus.
    • ISO : Keep ISO as low as possible to minimize noise. Increase them only as necessary to achieve the desired shutter speed in low light conditions.
  3. Shooting techniques :
    • Using a tripod : For slow shutter speeds, a tripod is essential to avoid camera shake.
    • Filters : Use an ND (neutral density) filter to reduce the amount of light entering the lens, allowing slower shutter speeds in broad daylight.
    • Polarizing filter : It can help reduce reflections on water and increase color saturation.
  4. Composition :
    • Look for angles that show the direction of flow to guide the eye through the image.
    • Include static elements like rocks or vegetation to contrast with the movement of the water.
    • Try to capture the action at a time when the water creates interesting patterns or textures.
  5. Time of the day :
    • Soft light at the beginning or end of the day (golden hour) can add a beautiful hue to your photos and reduce the harsh contrast created by the midday sun.
  6. Review and adjustment :
    • Check your images while shooting to adjust settings if necessary. Watch the exposure to avoid losing detail in the highlights of the splashing water.

By applying these techniques, you will be able to effectively capture the raw energy and beauty of the Ubaye rapids, producing images that reflect both the power and elegance of this aquatic dynamic.

Hiking trails like the GR56 or the tour of Lake Serre-Ponçon offer breathtaking views of the valley. The routes leading to peaks such as Pain de Sucre or Tête de Louis XVI allow you to capture 360° panoramas of the Alps and the valley, offering exceptional photographic opportunities. Or the Cayolle lakes, the lake of nine colors…

Aerial photos require different preparation and perspective. Using a certified drone can open up new angles of view. For beginners, participating in a flying activity like paragliding can be an interesting alternative. Be sure to comply with local regulations on drones and to choose favorable weather conditions to ensure the safety and quality of shots.

To photograph architecture and traditions, walk through villages early in the morning or late afternoon to use natural light that highlights textures and colors. Don't hesitate to engage in conversation with locals to capture authentic portraits and scenes of daily life. Always respect the wishes of the people photographed and favor a discreet and respectful approach.

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