Information on Briancon

We often get inquiries for information on Briancon. So we’ve put this page for information together for you. The Residence du Temple is situated immediately opposite the Collegiale and next door to the Briancon Tourist Office.

Ideal for local shops and resturants, the Temple is within a 2 minute walking distance from local cafes and bars and a 4 minute walk to the public car park, situated immediately outside the walls of the old town.

Briancon Vieille Ville

The Vieille Ville is a maze of medieval cobbled streets, overhanging eaves, provençal colour-washed buildings and traditional sundials. Often referred to as the Provençe of the Alps, it is an ideal spot to base yourself and explore both the historic town of Briançon and the ski resorts of Serre Chevalier and Montgenevre.

The town was award the highly coveted UNESCO status and became a world heritage site in the summer of 2008. However, not much has changed, and although during the summer months the town does become a hive of activity with passing tourists, festivals, markets and cycling events, there are still plenty of quiet corners and cafes to pass the time of day and enjoy the famously clean air and sunshine .

Briancon & UNESCO

Briançon is a UNESCO site that sits at an altitude of 1,326 metres and is Europe’s highest city. The historic upper town or Vieille Ville, is very magical, particularly when it is dramatically transformed by the first snowfall or when the sun turns the colourful buildings aglow.

Since Roman times, its location at the meeting point of five river valleys and two strategic routes, has made it an important stronghold. The development of artillery, however, made it vulnerable to attack from the even higher surrounding peaks flanking the Franco-Italian border, so three defensive fortresses were constructed during the late 17th/early 18th Centuries on the summits which posed the greatest threats.

Most of the Vieille Ville, often referred locally to as the Cité Vauban – lies within a system of defensive ramparts, designed by the celebrated French military engineer, Vauban.   There’s a real feeling of exhilaration which comes from just being here, and which climaxes at the panoramic viewpoint above the Fort du Château.

The narrow streets, tall ochre façades and brightly painted sundials (not to mention around 300 days of sunshine per year) create an Italianate mood not unlike those of Menton or Vieux Nice. There’s even a genuine Italian coffee shop and patisserie, which offers possibly the ultimate chocolat-chaud.

On 8 July 2008, several buildings of Briançon were classified by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. 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.

VTT & Cycling

Briançon has often hosted starts and finishes of stages of the Tour de France,  Giro d’Italia and Dauphine Libere.

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 hosted a stage finish 22 times.

On the 17th July 2007, the town was the finish of the 159.5 km (99.1 mi) stage 9 which came from Val d’Isere crossing the Col d’Iseran, the Col de Telegraphe and the Col de Galibier and ended with a 37 km (23 mi) downhill finish into Briançon.

White Water Sports

Briançon is situated around the confluence of the Durance river and its tributary the Guisane that are fed with snow melt in the spring. Enthusiasts come from all over Europe to experience magnificent whitewater rivers and their tributaries, including the Onde, the Gyronde, the Guil, the Rabioux and the Ubaye; the old town being, of course an ideal point to base yourself.

Popular white water rivers in the Alps are mainly glacier-fed, 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 Briancon & Serre Chevalier region has a very reliable record and often the season can stretch well into August.

Skiing & Snowboarding

Briançon is the  perfect base to access the Serre Chevalier ski resort with the Prorel lift taking you up into the main lift system. Residence du Temple is an ideal option for those looking for something a little more authentic and especially for the more adventurous who want to explore Montgenevre and the Milky Way.

For all the latest news on events in Briancon visit the Tourist Office website