Bri­ançon: Jewel of the French Alps

David Jack­son-Grose dis­cov­ers the beauty of the French Alps in sum­mer.

Provincial Living - - Contents -

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

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