Stage town for the 35th time
Sub-prefecture of Hautes-Alpes (05)
Population: 12 800 (Briançonnais, Briançonnaises)
Specialities: cabbage pie and sausage, tourtons du Champsaur (pies), blueberry pie, génépi. Manufacture of alphorns and sundials
Personalities: Luc Alphand (alpine skiing, multiple World Cup winner; rally-raid, winner of the 2006 Dakar), Pierre Vaultier (boardercross, multiple World Cup winner, 2014 Olympic champion), Vincent Lavenu (cycling, manager of AG2R Citroën)
Sport: Les Diables Rouges (ice hockey, Division 1), Club des Sports d'Hiver de Briançon (alpine skiing), Inter Club d'Escalade du Briançonnais. Events: Mondial de l'escalade (stage of the world cup), Vauban Urban Trail.
Economy: winter and summer tourism, southern gateway to the Serre Chevalier Valley ski area (250 km of slopes with a gondola departure from the town centre), European Bioclimatic Medical Centre for Research and University Teaching, Regional and European Centre for Tourism.
Festivals: Altitude Jazz Festival in the communes of Serre Chevalier Valley, Grand Escarton medieval festival, Briançon under the stars, Forts en Fête, Street Art festival.
Signature: "Briançon, in the heart of the giants
Labels: Town of Art and History / Town of Health / Town and tourist resort / Town in bloom with 3 flowers / Vauban town / WHO health town
Websites / FB / Twitter: www.serre-chevalier.com / www.ville-briancon.fr / www.hautes-alpes.fr / www.hautes-alpes.net / https://twitter.com/villebriancon / https://twitter.com/myhautesalpes / https://twitter.com/hautesalpes?lang=fr / https://twitter.com/serreche_fr?lang=fr / https://www.facebook.com/villedebriancon / www.facebook.com/hautesalpes.departement / www.facebook.com/hautes.alpes.tourisme / https://fr-fr.facebook.com/pg/SerreChevalierFR/posts/ / https://www.instagram.com/ville_de_briancon/?hl=fr / https://www.instagram.com/departement_des_hautes_alpes/?hl=fr / https://www.instagram.com/myhautesalpes/?hl=fr / https://www.instagram.com/serrechevalier/?hl=fr / https://www.youtube.com/user/villedebriancon / https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxx2F8fSbo6lDfQMibe9Yjw / https://www.youtube.com/user/MesAlpes / https://www.youtube.com/hashtag/purealpes
Briançon, capital of the Southern Alps
Ideally situated 1h30 from Gap, Grenoble and Turin, Briançon has always attracted a large national and international population each summer, eager to take advantage of its many assets, which make it a stronghold of French summer tourism.
A mountain town with a Mediterranean climate, nestled between the Écrins National Park and the Queyras Regional Nature Park, the town is uniquely positioned to offer its visitors an exceptional natural setting. From the wide-open spaces of the valleys to the mythical and renowned passes of the Grandes Alpes route, Briançon is a cycling stronghold. From the Izoard pass to the Galibier pass via the Lautaret pass, the roads in the area are essential for cycling enthusiasts and professionals.
Briançon also has a cultural heritage that is unique in France: combining its Alpine and Provencal influences, the town is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Vauban fortifications.
BRIANÇON AND CYCLING
Bobet's trilogy in Briancon
The common history of the Tour de France and Briançon began in 1922 with a stage victory by Philippe Thys, who was already the first triple winner of the event. Subsequently, the names of the most illustrious champions have been added to the prize list of the town fortified by Vauban: Gino Bartali, Louison Bobet, Fausto Coppi, Charly Gaul, Gastone Nencini, Federico Bahamontes and Eddy Merckx, all of whom won the Tour.
Of all of them, it was undoubtedly Louison Bobet who made the biggest impression in the Hautes-Alpes prefecture with his three wins in 1950, 1953 and 1954. During the last finish in the town in 2007, the Colombian Mauricio Soler, who was also awarded the title of best climber that year, scored the most resounding success of his career. Ten years later, a stage from Briançon allowed Warren Barguil to conquer the Izoard and confirm his victory a few days earlier in Foix and to take the polka-dot jersey of best climber of this edition.
Construction: between 1724 and 1734
Characteristics: occupying a strategic position at an altitude of 1,326 metres, the upper town of Briançon, perched on a rocky outcrop, is a unique mountain fortification site. Encircled by ramparts designed by Vauban, it is itself crowned by high altitude forts making it impregnable. This majestic and imposing site helps to understand the genius of adaptation shown by the famous military engineer of Louis XIV. Although a large part of these works was executed after his death, they were built according to his principles until 1734.
Listing: Vauban's fortifications in Briançon have been included in the list of World Heritage Sites since July 2008, alongside eleven other French sites grouped together in the Vauban Major Sites Network. Seven works located in the town have been privileged to obtain this recognition in view of their authenticity, their state of conservation, their representativeness and the policy of enhancement to which they are subject. The urban enclosure and the intramural installations: the collegiate church, the Place d'Armes and the two powder magazines.
Fort of the Three Heads
Foundation: built in the 18th century.
History: it is the most important work of the fortified system in Briançon. It overlooks the Fontenil and Fontchristiane valleys as well as the fortified town. As early as 1700, Vauban had underlined the strategic importance of its position and its construction began in 1721 under the direction of engineers Tardif and Nègre.
Characteristics: it is composed of three fronts and a low fort (all the defences of the time: half-moons, reversing fires, covered path, etc.). Its surface area, one and a half times larger than that of the old town, allowed for the quartering of 1,250 men and around 70 artillery pieces in the event of the town being taken (it could be used as a fallback base). At the heart of the defensive system, it is linked to the town by the Asfeld bridge and to the Randouillet fort by the Y communication. It was never completed. The chapel was transformed into barracks in the 19th century.
Listing: Historical Monument in 1989 / Unesco World Heritage in 2008 (Vauban fortifications).
Foundation: built in the 18th century.
History: designed as an advanced sentry in the chain of fortifications of the 18th century, Fort Dauphin ensured the crossing of fire with Fort des Salettes in order to prevent access to the city from the Chemin du Piémont and protected Fort des Têtes. Built between 1724 and 1734 on the Biffeul plateau, this fort is interesting in that it has hardly been modified, except for the addition of a cavernous powder magazine in 1874. Numerous projects aimed at expanding the fort have followed in quick succession. Only routine maintenance work and a few improvements were carried out. After the 1870 war, it became obsolete and the construction of new forts (the Infernet in 1876) became necessary.
Listing: Historical Monument in 2007.
Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Nicolas
Foundation: 18th century.
History: built from 1703 (after the destruction of the medieval church for strategic reasons), the current parish church of Notre-Dame and Saint-Nicolas, known as the collegiate church of Notre-Dame, was completed in 1718 on plans revised and corrected by Vauban, who was visiting the city to work on the fortifications.
Characteristics: polychrome facade flanked by a remarkable arched pediment and two bell towers with square-based domes. The sundial (left tower), one of the most beautiful in the Alps, and the clock, restored, which adorn the bell towers. The interior reveals an abundance of decorations which allow the religious history of the town to be retraced. Beautiful organ, which despite several restoration campaigns, is still composed of many original elements from the 18th century.
Classification: Historical Monument in 1931.
The Schappe Park is the work of Laurent Delphin, commander of Briançon, who embarked on an extravagant project in 1815: to convert former dry quarries into a lush park in the oriental style, with a lake decorated with a Japanese bridge, an island and a pagoda.
The Geology and Geopark House
Dedicated to scientific tourism, this geological interpretation centre with interactive screens (2D and 3D), models and an outdoor geodrome (open-air museum) presents the different stages in the creation of the Alps and the riches of the Franco-Italian Geopark of the Cottian Alps in an entertaining and educational way.
Larch liqueur or mélèzine
Although génépi is the aperitif most commonly associated with the Hautes-Alpes, it now shares the spotlight with larch liqueur, made from the region's emblematic tree. This conifer, the only one to lose its needles in winter, has young buds in spring that are macerated to create larch liqueur, also called mélèzine by some manufacturers. This gives a drink with a light taste of undergrowth and bark, concocted today by numerous distilleries around Briançon and in the Hautes-Alpes in general, such as the Distillerie des Boussardes (recently victim of a fire), Mountain-Spirit Fabrik, the Distillerie des Quatre Frères or Guillaumette.