Many people go through life in a place where they feel little or no real connection with their environment, so to be living in a town and region where there is so much beauty and history is a real privilege. In this global age where things move so fast and can be so transient it is reassuring to live in a rural French town which is so authentic. A town that lives and breathes on a local level, inhabited by 'locals' who work, shop, bring their children up and look after their old, with generations of family history connecting them to the town and each other giving it a genuine community spirit. St.Jean-en-Royans feels reminiscent of days gone by. It has an old soul that cherishes its past, celebrates its history and traditions and passes them onto the next generation to keep alive - and that's very special. More than anything, it feels that people really cherish their town and love living here and that gives off a great energy.
On a more down to earth level it's so lovely that people still say hello to each other in the street even though they may not be acquainted, and for an outsider to the town that is reassuring and welcoming and a tradition that has been lost in many other communities... so long may it continue. The town has a good infrastructure of shops, cafes and facilities and are invaluable in keeping the heart of St.Jean-en-Royans beating and the saying 'use them or lose them' is something St Jeannais understand well in spite of the very convenient large supermarket on the edge of town.
The location of St.Jean-en-Royans, nestled off the beaten track in the western fold of the southern Vercors national park, makes it a perfect destination for a whole range of outdoor activities and for those wanting to explore the region. From the centre of the town the mountains rise on three sides as the valley stretches south - with the highest visible point exceeding anything in the British Isles. For cyclists it is the natural gateway to some of the most stunning climbs up to the plateau on quiet roads that can climb to passes over 1000m. Over the years St Jean has welcomed international tourists from around the world including guests from America, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Ireland and the UK who have been astounded by the spectacular scenery, lush vegetation and quiet, black topped roads. A real bonus is that the Royans and the southern Vercors is not a through route for traffic which means it's mainly locals on the roads making it much quieter and a more pleasurable experience for cyclists, walkers, climbers and leisurely explorers. Having lived here for many years you can still discover new routes and vistas making it an exciting place to live. And of course the views from St.Jean are spectacular being surrounded by mainly deciduous woodland giving a display of ever changing colours from Spring through to winter.
The rich mountainous landscape offers many natural water courses which have been utilised over the centuries by industries using hydro power for electricity generation and propulsion in saw mills and silk weaving. These eco-credentials persist today with the region generating more zero carbon electricity than it draws from the grid. With climate change issues increasing St.Jean and the Royans could become a true 'eco region' by generating much more and with all citizens benefitting from a true zero carbon lifestyle.
St Jean-en-Royans is a thriving town moving forward with new projects and we look forward to the opening of the new Health Centre and the Arts and Cultural facility.
Whether you are looking for a better quality of life or a super holiday St.Jean-en-Royans and the stunning natural beauty of the surrounding region put it right up there as one of best hidden gems on the planet.
Written by Teresa Harte @VeloVercors