Briançon: Jewel of the French Alps
David Jackson-Grose discovers the beauty of the French Alps in summer.
David Jackson-Grose discovers the beauty of Briançon.
So,you think you know the French Alps? For most of us, the Alps equate with the proverbial winter wonderland: the extraordinarily long pistes (ski-runs) of Chamonix, Val d’Isère and Courchevel; ice-capped mountain peaks; the hustle and bustle of people waiting for chairlifts; après-ski parties.
The French Alps in winter are indeed a magical destination but the Alps are just as beautiful in summer and quite unlike anything you have experienced before.
Briançon, nestled high up in the Alps, is the perfect example of why Australians should consider travelling there in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. Where else would you find such a contrast between nature’s grandeur and a beautiful medieval village?
Whether you love the hustle and bustle of the summer throngs or crave the tranquillity of seemingly undiscovered mountain streams and vibrant fresh air, Briançon has it all.
300 days of sunshine
Briançon is blessed with the unlikely pairing of breathtaking Alpine scenery and Provence-like sunshine for over 300 days of the year. Situated in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, to the north of Provence, Briançon is about halfway between Grenoble and Turin, across the border in Italy. It overlooks the breathtaking valleys of Serre Chevalier and the River Durance.
Perched on a hill and surrounded by mountains, the town is truly picturesque. Incredibly, at 1326 metres, it is the highest town in the European Union and the second highest in Europe.
There are national parks in all directions. To the west is the Parc National des Écrins, France’s largest national park. To the north is the Parc National de la Vanoise. To the south-east is the Parc Régional du Queyras.
Briançon: UNESCO World Heritage listed
The settlement dates back to pre-Roman times. It has always had great strategic importance; guarding an ancient pass into Italy.
Louis XIV, The Sun King who built the Palace of Versailles, did not do anything by halves. At Briançon, he employed the famous military architect, Vauban to fortify the town, constructing ramparts and gates. Stroll back in time