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Les Vigneaux

Pop : 390h Elevation : 1000m
Department of Hautes Alpes

From L'Argentière-la-Bessée via the D994

In the heart of the Ecrins National Park in an untouched natural environment where the air is pure, nestles the humble village of Les Vigneaux.

Built on the sunny slopes of Montbrison, a majestic rocky ridge 800 metres high, Les Vigneaux was once a land of vineyards, hence its name and its coat of arms representing a vine stock.

At one time each family owned a plot of vines and stored its harvest in the troglodyte caves in the hamlet of Les Vignettes.

Today, although the village still produces organic vegetables, its main attraction is the marvellous Saint Laurent church. Built in the Romanesque style over several periods starting in the 14th century, it is still in very good condition, with the soft magnificently time-worn colours of its dressed stonework.

From the exterior, admire its archway with the columns and sculpted capitals, its shingle roof, its two-storey Romanesque Lombardic belltower and above all its wall-paintings (16th century) and frescoes, slightly worn by time, illustrating the 7 capital sins and corresponding punishments.

Don't forget to take a look at the two sundials installed in 1750 on the south and west faces of the belltower, and also, on the wall of the former presbytery opposite the church, a modern sundial commemorating the bicentenary of the French Revolution..

If you are lucky enough to visit the interior (guided tours are organised), you will be able to contemplate more superb frescoes in excellent condition on the wall of the chancel on the themes of Christ in majesty, the tetramorph and the crowning of the Virgin.

If you prefer sport there's something for you too. Climbers can ascend the Montbrison wall, which provides numerous climbing routes.

Or you can choose between the municipality's two via ferratas: "La Balme" is very high up and is one of the most popular in France; the other enables you to cross the Durance Gorge on footbridges suspended above an impressive sheer drop: faint hearts beware !

Finally, if you want to stretch your legs, take a nice easy stroll up to Col de la Pousterle (1763 m), from where you will have a breathtaking view of the majestic Ecrins massif.

Worth visiting :

Saint Laurent church, historical monument,
14th century: the key is available from the mairie.
Saint Claude chapel (historical monument, 15th century),
built on a rock, at the hamlet of La Bâtie.
The Barri of Pertuis-Rostan
also known as the Waldensian Wall :
a defensive wall known as "Le Barri"
some ruins of which still remain,
once protected the whole of the Durance valley.

Leisure activities :

Hiking (e.g. for La Croix de la Salcette, at 2331 m) Mountaineering.
White water sports, paragliding,
horse-riding, fishing, archery, swimming.
Climbing. Mountain-biking. Cross-country skiing.

Accommodation and eating out :

Numerous gîtes and furnished rentals. Hiking gîtes.
Tables d'Hôtes. Campsite.

Neighbouring villages not to be missed :

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