Vars and the villages

Sainte Catherine

Sainte-Catherine, nestled on the mountainside and called "La Fortune", is the former granary of the local area.

Enjoy a beautiful summer day to go in search of the many examples of mountain architecture. Oven, fountains and wash houses can all be seen as you stroll through the alleys of the village, and don’t forget to look for the sundials with original mottoes.

Here, time stops... Enjoy, share, be thrilled
You can appreciate the sunshine at any time of the day in this ideal south-facing location...

Our tip: Enjoy it to your heart's content!

The must-sees

The ancient dwellings

When walking through the hamlet of Sainte-Catherine, open your eyes wide and see the past right in front of you:
the houses, mostly old farms, are built with respect for tradition.

A quick note:
Adapted to the Vars people’s work and way of life, the farm is composed of two parts: the house and the barn. The house is spread over 2 levels, occasionally 3. On the lower floor are the kitchen, the stables and the cellars. On the upper floor are the bedrooms, which are accessed by an external staircase and a balcony. The barn occupies the upper part.

Oven, fountains and washhouse

The bouscatières

Another sort of construction from the period were the bouscatières These were sheds often built entirely of wood which could store tools, wood or crops. If you walk along the bottom of the village of Sainte-Catherine, you will be able to see one.

The sundials

The crosses of Christ's Passion

A century ago, religion featured in everyday life, festivals, hard times, joyful events. Crosses were erected each time a missionary came to preach the good word.
In Queyras, a neighbouring valley, they were used during ceremonies to ward off disasters such as drought, flood, fire, and disease, among others. Some of the larchwood crosses are decorated with wooden sculptures depicting items from Christ’s Passion: cockerel, nails, hammer, pliers, hand, whip, chalice, sponge, ladder, I.N.R.I. plaque, crown of thorns, lantern, sword, spear, money bag.

More information

We have tested for you:

The mountain landscapes to marvel at.

Want a breath of fresh air? To relax?
Put on your favourite trainers and venture out on one of the many walks or hikes from Vars Sainte Catherine.

With family, go for an outing around the village, within gentle and accessible nature:
- Le Bois de la Pinée (Pinée woods trail): Get up high above the village of Vars Sainte Catherine, climb through the woods where you can enjoy the fresh, calm setting.
- Le Pont de la Salce (Salce Bridge trail): A gentle hike takes you through fields of flowers and trees along the Chagnon stream (ends in Vars Sainte-Marie).

More challenging hiking routes for those looking for a more sustained effort and steeper slopes:
- Le Lac des 9 couleurs (lake of 9 colours trail): Marmots, fields of edelweiss and, the icing on the cake, a lake with shades of blue, green and gold inlaid with pink marble.
- The peaks of Vars via La Pinée: On these illuminated crests where marmots can be seen among the edelweiss, you will look over the Val d'Escreins and its shredded pinnacles that, in spring, cry their tears of stone.

Relax and contemplate

Did you know?

- The farms were not totally built of wood. This was due to a shortage of wood in the Vars Valley. This is why the farms are made of stone (grey limestone or marble fragments) on a wooden frame and the barn is made of larch.

- The local youths used to steal hot loaves of bread fresh out of the oven... It was called "vinque"

Practical information

Free shuttles
In order to make your journeys between the villages, the resort, the Col de Vars or the Val d’Escreins nature reserve easier, the Vars resort offers a free shuttle service.
>> View the timetable