Not to be missed: Thursday 20th July 2017, the finish of the 18th stage of the Tour de France at the Col d’Izoard above Arvieux.
Your holidays in the Queyras Regional Park
Saint-Véran, the village where the roosters peck at the stars
- Saint Véran and the dragon
- A village in the Hautes Alpes
- The Clausis copper mine
- Traditional houses
- Village traditions
- Mission crosses
- The Soum Museum
- The observatory at Châteaurenard
- The House of the Sun
- Walks around Saint-Véran
Saint Véran and the dragon
Legend has it that around the 6th century Véran, later to be a saint, but then the Bishop of Cavaillon, took up arms against a dragon which was laying waste to Cavaillon and the surrounding area. Véran gravely wounded the dragon and ordered him to leave the area and go far away, to the sparsely populated Alpine mountains. The unhappy dragon, hobbling from place to place, left drops of blood along the road.
This is why today one finds other villages called Saint-Vérand, or Saint-Véran, in the Departments of Vaucluse, Isère and Rhône.
A village in the Hautes Alpes
This charming high mountain village offers holiday chalets and apartments to let, at an altitude of 2,040 metres, high in the heart of the Queyras Regional Natural Park (see the relief map of the Queyras). Hiking, downhill and Nordic skiing, snow-shoeing (see the map of the ski areas in the Aigue Valley) or just relaxing and looking at the scenery – everything is possible, and enjoyable, here in Saint-Véran.
The Clausis copper mine
Copper has been mined in the high mountains near Saint-Véran since the Bronze Age. Copper-extraction ended here in 1960. Remains of the mine can still be seen on the road to the Chapelle de Clausis.
In traditional Saint-Véran houses the ground floor walls are built of stones 50-70 centimetres thick. Sheaves of barley and rye were spread along under the ‘lobios’ (roof overhangs which kept off snow and provided ventilation). In this way the final ripening of the grain was assured. Hay was stored in ‘fustes’ or larch wood-piles in the upper part of the house. People lived in a separate ‘caset’ facing north-west, placed above the animal byre.
In Saint-Véran every section of the village had its own fountain and its communal bread-oven. This separation helped prevent the spread of fire.
The village as a whole was a hub for different trades: basket-making, tool-making, cabinet-making and joinery, and there was farming and animal husbandry (goats, sheep and cattle).
These old crosses, evidence of the religious faith of earlier inhabitants, display the tools used in Jesus’s crucifixion.
Let’s not forget the sundials.
The most famous were painted by a Piedmontese artist, Giovanni Francesco Zarbula, between 1840 and 1845.
A contemporary French artist, Rémy Potey, has also created sundials of great beauty.
The Soum Museum
The Soum Museum explains the life of the people of Saint-Véran, their environment, their work and their crafts. You will see some magnificent furniture, still made today.
The observatory at Châteaurenard
On the Pic de Châteaurenard, almost 3,000 metres high, is an observatory run by the Association Astro-Queyras. They will be pleased to arrange for you to study the stars under the exceptionally clear skies of Saint-Véran.
The House of the Sun
The House of the Sun tells you all you need to know about solar energy, its capture and storage and its effects on our environment and daily lives. Sun and health, sun and chemistry – these are some of the themes.
And for children of all ages there are workshops where you can make a plaster or cardboard sundial, make suntan oils and much more. See the website of the Maison du Soleil
Walks around Saint-Véran
There are many walks starting in Saint Véran. You can choose to take in a pass (col), like the Col de Longet (2,650m), a lake the Tête des Toilies (3,175 m), or why not tackle a 3,000m mountain, such as the Pic de Caramantran (3,025m) which is without doubt the easiest.
A shuttle-bus (navette) shortens the walk to the Chapelle de Clausis. There, a visit to the former copper mine will interest young and old.