Did you know? Saint-Véran in the French Alps is the highest commune in Europe
Located in the beautiful French Alps, Saint-Véran is the highest commune in all of Europe. It is perched on a flat grassy outcropping above a river valley. The Aigue Blanche river descends from the Queyras mountains on the southeast side and curves around the outskirts of the village property to create a magnificent valley view and feel. Tourists enjoy the village for it’s quaint and authentic vibe, often coming for both hiking and quiet relaxation.
The village was at one time made up of five separate hamlets, named Forannes, La Ville, Pierre-Belle, Villard, and Les Raux. As time and production continued, however, the hamlets were joined and today can only be distinguished by each areas own unique wooden fountain. The cause for this division was due to the prevalence of fires in the area, which would sweep through the village quickly due to the amount of wood used for building. Because of this, each hamlet also had it’s own fire pump to use in case of emergency.
Those who enjoy history will take note that the village was once the capital of Queyras. In the 16th Century, religious war found the area and the Hugenots burned down the church. The village was named after a bishop, Saint-Véran, who was famous in legend for his act of driving away a dragon.
Saint-Véran is also well known for it’s historical and beautiful sundials. The sundials present in the village are numerous and of high quality, drawing sundial lovers from across the world. The villagers remain proud of their historic sundials and continue to make new ones to this day.
Although tourism is a main part of the village economy, Saint-Véran also draws on agriculture and wood crafting. The villagers stay active with running tourist shops, pursuing agricultural life, and providing services to the other 300 full time inhabitants of the area. Others run restaurants and services for tourists who frequent the area.
Because the area is very mountainous with steep terrain, loop hiking is minimal. It is suggested that hikers desiring to backpack in the area be aware that the weather changes rapidly and to expect sharp inclines.