Saint Véran, Queyras, Alps

Saint Véran

Saint Véran in the Queyras region of the French Alps is said to be the highest permanently inhabited village in Europe at 2020m or 6,622ft. It is a pretty well-preserved village, even if a number of new developments have been added to create a ski resort, which helps the village to survive. Classified as one of the prettiest villages in France, there are a large number of traditional historic properties whose form is without doubt the most original of all the Queyras types. Characterised by the preponderance of wood, the houses are composed of three distinct parts. The hay lofts are large and open on their sunny side with balconies and galleries.  The Musée Le Soum is housed in the oldest house in the village, a typical dwelling built in 1641. The building has now been converted to a museum, dedicated to the lives and traditions of the village.

Most of the dwellings are separate from one another allowing the sun to penetrate between the houses and along the roads. The sunshine is an important theme in Saint Véran with around 20 historic buildings having sun dials painted on their walls. Many date back to the renaissance, with one of the most impressive being on the wall of the church.  The natural pigments used in the sundials are often extracted from ochre coloured sand from the Luberon region. The origin of this popular and original form of art dates back to the 17th century, although they suffered from decline once clocks became popular in the 19th century. Their popularity here comes from the relationship of the Queyras with their Italian neighbours in the piedmont. They were influenced by the Italian schools of art, specialised in religious interior design as well as exterior house paintings, who would cross the cols and propose their services to the Queyrassians. 

The parish church, situated in the centre of this alpine village, has some interesting features. On the outside you’ll find sculpted lions, one of which is holding a child between its paws. Inside the church there is a number of wooden sculptures created by the villagers representing certain saints. Destroyed during the religious wars, the church was rebuilt between 1645 and 1683. The church is surrounded by a cemetery where the local  Catholics are laid to rest, whilst the protestants are buried in a cemetery in the hamlet of Raux. The village was known for having a large protestant community and the temple in Raux is the protestant church which was rebuilt from 1804 after it was demolished in 1685.
Copper mines have been exploited in the area since the bronze age. Saint Veran also used to have a number of important activities that supported a large population which reached nearly 1000. These included carpenters, tool makers, basket making, and farming (rearing goats and cows for meat and dairy products). There was also a slate mine close by.

Take a look at the architecture of other villages in the queyras region of the French Alps.

local architecture of St veran in Queyras with hay lofts built from Larch

st veran in French Alps ideal for walking holiday

sundials are common in st veran, queyras

Take a look at our guided walking holiday in the Queyras

or our independent trekking tour of the Queyras