About the valley
Serre Chevalier is a constellation of 13 authentic mountain villages in a thoroughly Alpine environment, set at the entrance to the Ecrins National Park and sitting in the heart of the unspoilt beauty of the Oisans. You really feel like you are in the heart of the Alps here. The timeless surroundings offer a warm welcome and are the venue for a multitude of activities.
We are often told that there is ’something special’ about Serre Chevalier, something life changing: it’s an emotion, a feeling you get at a bend in the path, sitting on a sun-filled terrace enjoying a good meal, while you’re out biking or climbing, strolling through the villages or chatting with one of the locals…
Serre Chevalier is in France’s Hautes-Alpes department, part of the PACA or Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. The Hautes-Alpes is France’s only department in the alpine chain situated entirely in the mountains, making it the highest department in the Alps.
Latitude and Longitude
Latitude : E 06° 34’ 18’’ – Longitude : N 44° 56’ 45’’
Valley highest point
3664 m, The Agneaux pike (Le Monetier les Bains)
Permanent: 3,500 in the valley
The Guisane river, with its source at the Col du Lautaret, winds its way through the Serre Chevalier valley. At Briançon its waters join those of the Durance, a tributary of the Rhône. The Guisane gets its name from the word ’aquisana’, meaning ’healing water’. Naturally heated springs have bubbled up out of the ground in Le Monêtier les Bains since the dawn of time and their healing properties were already known in Roman times.
Traces of the Roman occupation have been found in the valley.
Rome was anxious to build a safe route up to the Col du Lautaret. A detachment was sent from ’Brigantio ou Brigantium’ (modern-day Briançon) as far as Le Monêtier les Bains where a few Roman remains can be seen around the chapel of Saint Martin.
The Middle Ages and the economic prosperity the area enjoyed in the 15th century left a strong cultural legacy in the valley, with the construction of several churches and chapels as well as small shrines in the mountain pastures.
Vernacular art also has a strong presence in the valley and you will find numerous sundials bearing inscriptions reminding the reader of the unceasing passage of the sun across the sky.
The 19th century saw the development of forges, tanneries and mills as well as a semi-industrial anthracite coal mining operation, the ruins of which can still be seen dotted about the valley.
Where does the name Serre Chevalier come from?
A valley as full of history as Serre Chevalier doesn’t have to ask a designer to come up with a logo for its resort. Thanks to its local heritage, the villages of Serre Chevalier came together under the banner of the ’Crowned Eagle’ that appears on the coat of arms of the Borel du Bez family.
The name Serre Chevalier comes from the ancient ’Oc’ dialect of southern France in which ’serre’ meant a hill or mound and ’cambeou’ was a flock… And it’s not difficult to work out the rest.