Vars and the villages

Sainte Marie


Located in the centre of the hamlets, the village of Sainte-Marie is the gateway to the ski area.

This village, which became the county town of the Vars Valley in 1962, is today home to the town hall, the post office and many tourist activities, notably in the recently restored Chastan Hall.


Must-sees in Vars Sainte Marie

Hiking and cycling

Sainte-Marie is the starting point for many hiking and cycling routes.
In winter, take the Chemin du Facteur, the Chemin de Champ Flaou or the circuit of the three villages.
These itineraries mix athleticism with wonderful winter landscapes.
In summer, get back to nature with several walks: le Pont de Salce, the Balcons de Vars, the Chagnon and the Peynier. Bird song, music from the running water and a palette of wild colours are all on the programme!

The fountains

The village of Sainte-Marie has three fountains: Pied de Ville, La Place and La Cime de Ville.
They were fed using the sources of the Sagnes and Vaouches, and later the Goutail. These fountains were managed and maintained by the residents.
In 1906, new cement fountains were built to replace the oldest ones, including Pied de Ville. As an aside, these washhouse-fountains were friendly places. Every day the locals came to collect water for household chores, and the women went there to do their laundry. You could get all the village gossip there.


The Ecumenical Centre

In the 15th century, Vars had two parishes. Two churches were built.
In 1692, the armies of the Duke of Savoy wreaked havoc by destroying the villages and bringing down the church steeples. In 1970, the Church was replaced by the Ecumenical Centre which carries a message of tolerance. Catholics and Protestants have always rubbed shoulders in Vars and they now share this building that brings together the two religions in one place.


The sundials

If you walk around Sainte-Marie, search for the sundials on some of the houses.

Their mottoes, written in French or Latin, are full of poetry.
"Companion follows the sun, it tells you (time)" or "Semper amicis hora: It's always time for friends.


Did you know?

In the past, the instructors maintained the Peynier ski slope using a large 200-litre drum filled with sand that they rolled down the slope. They could also perform ski slope maintenance with their students.

Les Escondus means "hidden persons".
In 1946, a Vars resident from Sainte-Marie purchased a pair of ash skis. He decided to rent them out and that is how the first sports shop opened in Sainte-Marie.

In 1942, running water began to arrive in all homes, thanks to a new water supply.

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

Pay shuttles
Vars resort offers a shuttle service between the Montdauphin SNCF railway station and Vars
>>View the timetable