Today, it is a must for any visitor to the Pays des Écrins! With an authentic, preserved mountain feel, Saint-Martin-de-Queyrières is the ideal place for you to stay in the Pays des Écrins.
Crossed by the Durance gorges, the village of Saint-Martin-de-Queyrières is the most scattered of the Pays des Écrins: nine perched hamlets stretch along both sides of the Durance. Saint-Martin-de-Queyrières, Queyrières, Prelles, Le Villaret, Sachas, Bouchier, Villar Meyer and Sainte-Marguerite.
Located a few kilometres from Briançon (a UNESCO site) and the Serre-Chevalier valley, Saint-Martin-de-Queyrières is the ideal place for your holidays in the Pays des Écrins. Thanks to its rich past, the village has an important cultural heritage with remnants from different periods (oratories, chapels, irrigation canals, etc.).
History and heritage
Dotted here and there along the Durance, at the gateway to Briançon, it is most certainly the longest village in the Pays des Écrins with many typical hamlets. The surroundings played an essential role during the Second World War, providing many trails and ‘hideouts’ for the Resistance.
Religious heritage is omnipresent with no fewer than 15 churches and chapels, all with interesting architectural features. Listed as Cultural Heritage, they are embellished with remarkable, admirably-preserved wall paintings. Among them, the Saint-Jacques-de-Prelles Chapel, which was a stop for pilgrims on the Saint James’ Way, is a fine example. Incidentally, Saint-Martin-de-Queyrières was indeed an important stage on one of the pilgrim routes along the Saint James’ Way.
Walkers will discover charming, refreshing little fountains, houses that are characteristic of the area and some that are more sophisticated like a noble’s house with three levels of arches on the heights of the village.
Hamlets and villages at the entrance to Briançon and overlooking the Durance
’… Facing the village of Bouchier, on an impressive rocky promontory where there are still a few steps carved in the rock, is the very old St Hippolyte chapel. It already existed in the 11th century and was decorated with beautiful frescoes in the 16th century that, unfortunately, are quite damaged. A hermit was in charge of looking after a very old statue of the Virgin with Child, carved out of vine stock. Fearing the Vaudois heresy, he took it with him when he fled to seek refuge in Tarascon in 1348. This is where it can still be seen: a beauty from Briançon who became Our Lady of the Castle in Tarascon’
Along the main road between Gap and Briançon, when leaving L’Argentière-La-Bessée, is a natural rift, which for a long time marked the border with the Briançon area.
This area marks the entrance to the municipality of Saint-Martin-de-Queyrières which spread across a succession of pretty hamlets overlooking the Durance gorges as far as Briançon. The municipality varies in altitude between 1200 m and 2920 m and is home to 950 inhabitants.
Saint-Martin-de-Queyrières, and more particularly the village of Prelles, was a stage on the Saint James’ Way (when coming from Turin). This is evident in the array of chapels, crosses and oratories even in the most distant valleys of the municipality. Towards the highest meadows of ‘Les Oriols’ in Queyrières and Sainte-Marguerite or in the perched hamlets of the Tenailles du Montbrison including Bouchier, which is a very old site as it was built along the Cottia per Alpem Roman road.
In this village there is a mill that is unique in France: the first electrified mill thanks to the Prelles dam that collected water from the Durance. The equipment inside is in perfect condition and illustrates the farmers and villagers need to grind grain, but also for a sawmill.
A visit to the site of La Vignette is particularly interesting to understand the importance of the vines in the 15th century, how they functioned in relation to the geographical location and the type of soil. Presses, in very good condition, can be seen here. Moreover, their restoration and preservation are a surprise to all.
As for the mountains, hikers will be charmed by the footpaths (Oriols, Bouchier, the perched hamlets of Les Tenailles du Montbrison, etc.), and will discover superb flora, and perhaps even fauna, in a decor of picturesque mountains and valleys with an incredible panorama of the entire Durance Valley. In addition, the Rocher Baron is a site that is greatly appreciated by climbers.
Up until the beginning of the 20th century, Les Vignettes was a wine production site. 84 presses were still in activity in 1939. The site was the highest vineyard in Europe at an altitude of 1250 m!
Oratories and sundials.
Alpine hamlets: Rocher Baron, Le Poux
Saint Martin Church
Saint Hippolyte Chapel (16th century) in Bouchier
Saint Jacques Chapel in Prelles (16th century) etc.
Rocher Baron climbing site:
Les Vignettes climbing site
The Durance gorges
La Croix de la Salcette
Le Tour des Oriols de Queyrières
Visit the Saint-Martin-de-Queyrières municple website: http://www.saintmartindequeyrieres.com/