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Chef-lieu of canton in the Hautes-Alpes (05)

Population: 6,150. 17,270 for the Community of communes of Serre-Ponçon

Specialities: honey, trout farms, cheese, venison, jam tarts, apple.

Celebrities: Saint Marcellin (1st bishop of Embrun, 4th century), Luc Eyriey (chocolate), Camille Combal (TV and radio anchor-man), Laetitia Roux (alpinist, skiing), Coraline Hugue (Nordic skiing), Jean-Baptiste Chandelier (paragliding)

Sport: 41 clubs, 4,680 members. Events: Embrun Bad (March, badminton), Grand Trail of Serre-Ponçon (June), Outdoor Mix Festival (June, extreme sports), 10 km of Embrun (June, running), Trail of Embrun (July), Embrun Man (August, triathlon). Cycling Clubs: Mountain bike Club RPP (roule pas perso – don’t ride alone) in Embrun; Velo Passion in Chorges

Economy: summer and winter tourism, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing (3 resorts within  15 km), lake Serre-Ponçon, Embrun water spot, agriculture (breeding, cheese production, forest)

Festivals: L’Heure de l’Orgue (Organ Hour), Trad’in Live Festival, Medieval Festival, classical music concerts, Les Radeliers de la Durance (rafting).

Labels: Quality Tourism / Tourism and Handicap / Land of Art and History / 20th century heritage / Pavillon Bleu / Green holiday resort / Fishing resort / 2 flowers / Boscodon labelled Exceptional forest / Sustainable Territory

Signature: the Little Nice of the Alps

Websites and social networks:  

Embrunman towards its 35th anniversary

The Embruman triathlon labelled itself “the myth” and it is undeniably one of the hardest XXL (extra long distance) triathlons in the world. Entrants are indeed required to swim 3.8 km, ride 186 km – partly up the Izoard – and to run a marathon for a total distance of 232 kilometres. The race, by its elevations in the cycling race (3,600 metres) as well as in the marathon section (600 m), is extremely demanding. It was created in1984 first as a short distance triathlon before adopting the Ironman format in 1990. It takes place since the beginning on August 15. Besides the showcase event, several other triathlon and duathlon formats are organised and are regularly used to award national or international titles.

In 35 years, Embrunman has crowned its own champions and specialists like Spain’s Marcel Zamora, a six-times winner between 2009 and 2017 (also won the Nice Ironman five times) or France’s Yves Cordier, crowned five times between 1987 and 1999 (eight times on the podium) and now turned into an Ironman organiser. In the women’s competition, former world champion Bella Bayliss Commerford of Scotland is the record winner with three titles between 2002 and 2009.

1999 (huit fois sur le podium) et aujourd’hui organisateur des Ironman français. Chez les femmes, c’est l’ancienne championne du monde écossaise Bella Bayliss Commerford qui compte le plus grand nombre de titres (trois entre 2002 et 2009).

Triathlon Ironman de Nice - 2009 - Marcel Zamora © O'Neill BELLET/PRESSE SPORTS

Its climate, among the driest and sunniest in the region, earned Embrun the nickname of “Nice of the Alps”. Form its rock, it overlooks the artificial lake of Serre-Poncon, the second largest in Europe, to which gather every summer the most seasoned triathletes for the annual Embruman. In July 2013, the Embrun man was a Britishman by the name of Chris Froome who dominated the individual TT to Chorges to strengthen his yellow jersey and tighten his grip over final victory in the centenary Tour.

In 2008, Embrun was the launch pad to a stage to l’Alpe d’Huez won by Carlos Sastre, who also seized the yellow jersey that day. In that edition, Embrun had the privilege to host two stage starts. The first had been won in Prato Nevoso, across the Italian border, by Simon Gerrans.

In 1973, the peloton left Embrun for Nice and Spaniard won the first of his three stage victories on the Tour, one year before finishing on the podium behind Eddy Merckx and Raymond Poulidor. Embrun is also the hometown of Eric Boyer, fifth in the 1988 Tour de France and the former manager of Team Cofidis.

In 2017, Embrun was the start of a stage to Salon-de-Provence in which Edvald Boasson-Hagen proved wiser than Niklas Arndt when he took a roundabout by the better side to beat his breakaway companion to the line.

Tour de France 2013 - Etape 17 Embrun/Chorges - contre la montre - Chris Froome © ASO/G.Demouveaux
Tour de France 2008 - Etape EMBRUN/L'ALPE D'HUEZ - Carlos Sastre © Presse Sports / Biville J-C
Tour de France 1973 - Etape Embrun/Nice - Vicente Lopez Carril © PRESSE SPORTS
Tour de France 1988 - Etape Nemours/Paris - Eric Boyer © PRESSE SPORTS
Tour de France 2017 - Embrun/Salon de Provence - Victoire d’Edvald Boasson-Hagen © ASO/Alex BROADWAY

Notre Dame du Real cathedral
Built between 1170 and 1220, it is considered the most important religious monument in the French Alps. Its architecture is largely inspired from the Lombard tradition. The Porch of the Real, surrounded by two lions, housed for more than two centuries a fresco representing the Adoration of the Magi. Are especially noteworthy the 18th century altar in polychrome marble, the preaching chairs and the baroque altars. An organ offered by King Louis XI is being restored. The cathedral’s treasure, on display in the St Francis chapel, is an exceptional collection of sacred art from the 15th to the 19th century, revealing the past glory of the Embrun archbishops.

Chapel of the Cordeliers convent
Housing the tourism office, it dates from 1447 and keeps magnificent frescos from the 15th and 16th centuries rediscovered and restored in the 1970s.

Tour brune  (Brown tower)
Tour Brune is an ancient keep of the archbishops of Embrun, and the only remnant of the Episcopal palace built in the 13th century near the cathedral.  The square tower is a important fixture in the Embrun landscape and was the symbol of the archbishop’s power.

Lake Serre-Poncon
The devastating floods of the Durance, in 1843 and 1856, led to the idea of building a dam. Technical difficulties were many and it is only in 1948 that a Moscow-born engineer, Ivan Wilhem, presented a viable project. The works started in 1955 and villages were flooded in 1959 and 1961. Some 1,500 persons had to be displaced and the villages of Savines, Ubaye and Rousset disappeared underwater. Savines was rebuilt and the new Savines-le-lac was inaugurated in 1962. The Serre-Poncon lake is the second largest artificial lake in Europe.

© Office de Tourisme de Serre-Ponçon
© Hélène Photographies
© CC BY 3.0
Vue Tour Brune © Office de Tourisme de Serre-Ponçon
© Le naturographe
© Le naturographe


A specialty of the Champsaur valley, the tourtons were once served for the Chirstmas dinner. They were also called “cushions of the child Jesus”. Adapted to the seasons, they can be served as a starter of a dessert: warm, with potato mash, with goat cheese, reblochon, bacon, spinach, meat with a salad dressind. Or cold, stuffed with apple or prune compote, with raspberries or blackberries.

© CC BY 3.0
© Le naturographe
© Office de Tourisme de Serre-Ponçon
© Hélène Photographies
© Office de Tourisme de Serre-Ponçon
© Hélène Photographies
© Le naturographe
Maison des Chanonges, Embrun © Ville d’Embrun

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