View From Europe’s Highest Town – Briancon
Located in the Hautes-Alpes department, part of the PACA region of France, the fortress town of Briançon is the highest in all of Europe, and its ancient walls and fortifications, still standing today, are quite a unique sight to see. The town is comprised of two distinct parts : the lower town, which is located at the junction of the Guisane and Durance rivers, and the upper town, which features the ancient walled fortification. It combines history, culture, adventure and picturesque landscapes, making it the perfect all-in-one destination for those seeking an authentic French experience.
History of Briancon
If it’s history you’re interested in, then you’ve come to the right place! Upon entering the old town via drawbridge, one immediately feels as if they have somehow crossed into the past. There are several fascinating buildings located throughout the town, some of which have even been classified as UNESCO World Heritage sites as part of the “Fortifications of Vauban”. This classification consists of 12 groups of fortified buildings and sites along the western, northern and eastern borders of France which were designed by Vauban, a world-renowned military engineer from the 17th century.
Given the town’s long, rich history, it’s no surprise that the area features a good number of forts to see and explore. In fact, Briançon happens to be one of the most fortified areas in all of France. Today the remains of many of these forts can be found in the mountains to the east, including the forts of Randouillet, Dauphin, Anjou, Gondran, Trois Têtes, Croix de Bretagne, Infernet, and Selettes, among others. It’s certainly enough to keep you busy exploring for the day!
Once you are in Briancon…
Aside from historic buildings, there are plenty of other sights to see in the town, from sparkling fountains, to sundials, to the unique gargouille streets, which are defined by the small canal that runs down the center. Many areas feature charming cobblestone steps, adding to the old feel and ancient atmosphere of the town. The lower town features a variety of friendly little shops, cafés and restaurants, as well as the town market, which is located in front of the ancient fire station that is incredibly still in use today.
There is a nice selection of eateries to choose from throughout the town, featuring lots of regional dishes and local cuisine. Enjoy an expertly crafted meal, filled with rich cheeses and delectable local ingredients and then wash it down with some tasty regional wine. Feel free to indulge as you’ll have plenty of opportunity to work off the extra calories participating in the wealth of sporting activities that can be enjoyed in Briançon. Everything from cycling, hiking and kayaking to ice hockey and skiing is available for the adventure seeker and each activity offers a unique and unforgettable way to experience this beautiful French village.