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Briancon Mini Guide
Briancon is a town in the French Alps located just ten kilometres from the Italian border. It proudly holds the title of the most highest town in all of Europe. Home to approximately eleven thousand inhabitants it is a historic location and the fortifications in its old town have been certified as a UNSCEO World Heritage Site. Built in the 17th century as a defense for the region from the Austrians it is a very picturesque location with winding narrow streets and old European atmosphere.
So What Should I see?
If you like architecture (and heights), Fort Janus at the east of the town is a must see. Though Briancon itself is at a very high altitude, this fort is even higher, at 1200 metres above the town a visit will leave you feeling on top of the world, well inhabited Europe anyway. Easy to find also mostly due to its prominent location is the Parish church of Briancon, proudly sporting not one but two towers, the church is both atmospheric and peaceful while above the town lies the Fort du Chateau and its many underground passages. Be warned however that while you can see most of the citadel for free there is a charge for entrance to the top part and the passages.
Sounds Good, but I Prefer a Little Action
If history makes you sleepy and you are bored of looking at old sundials, fear not, there are plenty of other activities to occupy your time. Briancon has regularly featured as a stage town for the Tour de France so cycling there is quite popular, why not hire a bike and check it out for yourself.
For water babies, while there is no seaside there they do have the Durance River and its tributary the Guisane, which is perfect for kayaking and rafting enthusiasts. It’s also a popular skiing destination and is actually the lowest station of the Serre Chevalier Ski Resort. Rock climbing is also quite popular and some of the finest valleys for the sport are located in this area. Hiking in this region is also excellent.
Briancon is a tourist town so you will find all the usual suspects in the form of postcards and attractive fridge magnets. For shopping head towards the lower part or new town where you will find most of the shops and restaurants are located. The town market is also located there outside the fire station building. Follow the signs for the Parc de la Schappe and you will find it easily.
The easiest and most comfortable way to travel to Briancon is by train, connections are available from Marseille
via Gap and a night train from Paris
also via Gap. Bus connections run similarly, Gap to Embrun then Brian con or Marseille to Gap then Briancon. Further information and timetables can be found online.
If driving you should follow the N91 road when coming from Grenoble but be warned it gets very busy in the high seasons and delays are common as the entire region is popular with tourists. From Alpe –d’Huez take the same route.