Val d’Isère (Picture: Jean-Louis Noisillier
An authentic mountain village with its wood and stone chalets, Val d’Isère is situated at an altitude of 6,000 ft, at the foot of the Iseran Pass, one of the highest passes open to traffic in Europe (9,100 ft) which links the Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys and celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Val d’Isère is known all around the world for its skiing domain, in partnership with Tignes : the Espace Killy stands out as one of the most varied and vast domains in the world, with nearly 300 km of thrilling slopes. Val d’Isère has hosted numerous world cup races, some events during the 1992 Olympics, and is set to organize the 2009 World Alpine skiing Championships. Nestled in well preserved natural surroundings, Val d’Isère lies next to the Vanoise National Park, where hikers, ramblers and nature enthusiasts all like to roam. In summer and winter alike, this area provides visitors with unique fauna and flora, not to mention breathtaking views.
Briançon (Picture: Jean-Louis Francou)
Situated at the heart of the southern Alps, Briançon proudly stands at 4,350 ft, surrounded by mountain ranges, with some peaks as high as 13,000 ft. With its landscape perfectly suited for cycling, Briançon leads to passes which have contributed to the legend of the Tour de France: the Galibier, the Lautaret and the Izoard. Briançon is hosting the Tour de France for the 33rd time, truly an Alpine record! A sporting town, with the Serre-Chevalier resort just to the south, Briançon stages many international competitions. The medieval town boasts a wonderful architectural heritage: fortified ramparts, Asfeld bridge, Big and Small Gargoyle, House of Templars, collegiate church, Cordelier church and its frescoes, castle fort, Salettes fort, multicoloured houses, sundials... Briançon has joined up with other cities to get Vauban’s military architecture heritage added to the Unesco world Heritage. 2007 being the tricentenial of Vauban’s death, many festivities will be held.