Briançon in the Cottian Alps

Monday, 22 January 2018 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, French Riviera, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  5 minutes

© Benj05/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Benj05/cc-by-sa-3.0

Briançon a commune in the Hautes-Alpes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department. At an altitude of 1,326 metres (4,350 feet) it is the highest city in France, based on the French definition as a community containing more than 2,000 inhabitants. Briançon’s most recent population estimate is 12,00. Briançon is built on a plateau centred on the confluence of the Durance and the Guisane rivers. Briançon is the base and lowest altitude station of the large Serre Chevalier ski resort. Most of the town’s accommodation is used exclusively in winter, the population tripling during that period.

The historical centre is a strongly fortified town, built by Vauban to defend the region from Austrians in the 17th century. Its streets are very steep and narrow, though picturesque. Briançon lies at the foot of the descent from the Col de Montgenèvre, giving access to Turin, so a great number of other fortifications have been constructed on the surrounding heights, especially towards the east. The Fort Janus is no less than 1,200 m. above the town. The parish church, with its two towers, was built 1703–1726, and occupies a very conspicuous position. The Pont d’Asfeld, east of the town, was built in 1734, and forms an arch of 40 m span, thrown at a height of 56 m across the Durance. The modern town extends in the plain at the southwest foot of the plateau on which the old town is built and forms the suburb of Ste Catherine. Briançon is close to the Parc National des Ecrins and the Vallée de la Clarée. On 8 July 2008, several buildings of Briançon were classified by the UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, as part of the Fortifications of Vauban group. These buildings are: the city walls, Redoute des Salettes, Fort des Trois-Têtes, Fort du Randouillet, ouvrage de la communication Y and the Asfeld Bridge. Along with Briançon, 11 other sites of fortified buildings in France were classified. Among them is the place-forte of Mont-Dauphin, also in the Hautes-Alpes department. These pieces of art were designed by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (1633–1707), a military engineer of King Louis XIV.

© Benj05/cc-by-sa-3.0 © panoramio.com - Carsten Wiehe/cc-by-sa-3.0 © panoramio.com - Gilles Guillamot/cc-by-sa-3.0 Town Hall - Édouard Hue/cc-by-sa-3.0 Citadel of Briançon © Tipiac/cc-by-sa-3.0
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© panoramio.com - Gilles Guillamot/cc-by-sa-3.0
Briançon has often hosted starts and finishes of stages of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Critérium du Dauphiné. As Briançon has regularly featured as a stage town in the Tour de France, it is a popular base for cyclists. Since 1947, the town has been the start point for a stage of the Tour 22 times, and has also been a stage finish 22 times. In 2007, the town was the finish of the 159.5 km (99.1 mi) stage 9 on 17 July from Val-d’Isère crossing the Col de l’Iseran, the Col du Télégraphe and the Col du Galibier with a 37 km (23 mi) downhill finish to Briançon.

Briançon is situated around the confluence of the Durance river and its tributary the Guisane which are fed with snow melt in the Spring. Tourists come from around Europe to kayak and raft on the resultant whitewater rivers and their tributaries, including the Onde, the Gyronde, the Guil, the Rabioux, the Ubaye and others; often basing themselves in Briançon. Popular white water rivers in the Alps are mainly medium volume glacier-fed rivers with long continuous rapids and few big drops. The season is short (two or three months in early summer when the snow and glaciers are melting) but the whitewater is reliable during this period.

Read more on Ville Briançon, FranceThisWay.com – Briançon, Serre Chevalier ski resort and Wikipedia Briançon (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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