National Geographic : 1959 Apr
France's Highest Village-Saint Veran Veran, the seventh, was enrolled in a school at Gap, 60 miles away. Once seated at the table, the reserve both families had felt for the first few minutes quickly melted away. The food was simple but delicious-roast pork, beef stew, and stuffed eggs; salad, potatoes, and rich rye bread with cheese; and red wine to wash it down, followed by steaming hot coffee. After dinner, leaving Lyla and Madame Marrou talking at the table, Antoine took me into the old stable-living room, now devoted entirely to the cattle. He told me of his hopes for a tile floor, iron stanchions for each cow, watering troughs that would automati cally stay full as the cows drank from them, and a bigger window to let the sunlight in. Upstairs in the loft he showed me how he planned to partition off bedrooms for the children. By four o'clock Kenny had started to get cranky, and we left amid warm urgings to come back soon. One morning in late June I watched sheep officials count the flock and send it off to the high pastures. Falling rain kept no one in doors, for this event marked the beginning of summer. Villagers joshed Celestin, the Claude Jouve, the Village Blacksmith, and Neighbor Shoe a Horse Much of Saint Veran's work is done cooperatively. Families contribute one member each to repairing the irrigation canal, strengthening a bridge, or improving the church. Smaller groups combine to build houses, slaughter animals, or care for livestock. A village forum votes on community problems. Here farrier Jouve pares a hoof.