A ski-resort, which is listed on UNESCO’s world heritage sites, can be located in only one place in the whole of france, namely in Briançon, the second highest town in Europe. The historical town with an altitude of 1326m owes its status to its famous fortifications, which are a part of France’s 12 Fortifications of Vauban; named after the master builder of Ludwig XIV, Sebastian Le Prestre de Vauban.
Even today the historical part of the city, the so-called Cité Vauban, also known as the upper city, dominates the original garrison city. The erection of the remarkable fortification began here at the start of the 18th century.
In the middle of the fortification lies the Fort des Trois Têtes, which can also be visited. The fort is connected to the old town with the historical bridge „Pont d’Asfeld“, which crosses the Durance gorge. A further passageway called „Communcation Y“ leads, in contrast to this, directly to the Fort du Randouillet. 2 further forts and a circular rampart complete the ensemble, in common with the old town of Briancon, which is also called Gargouille. This picturesque district with its small alleyways owes its name to the identically named water channel from the middle ages, which still runs through the old quarter today and along which run the majority of shops, hotels, bars and restaurants.
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The title „City of Art and History“ , which was awarded to Briançon from the French Ministery of Culture, is not just due to the famous fortifications. On the one hand the centre is open to those interested in culture with its contemporary art as well as several galleries. On the other hand the unusual old town’s façades bear witness to Briançon’s vivid history. The numerous sundials on the restored houses are, among other things, proof that Briançon has always had many days of sunshine.
In addition to its development into a winter ski-resort from the second half of the 19th century, Briancon also made a name for itself as a thermal health resort at about the same time. Even today the very dry and sunny climate is used as a therapy for respiratory ailments.
In addition to a whole lot of culture and an impressive history, Briancon has a selection of leisure facilities, that are just as impressive. The swimming pool / sports / spa centre „Parc 1326“ is, without a doubt, the highlight here and includes an indoor olympic sized ice rink, that is open all year round, plus a water park with an indoor pool, aqua-therapy pools, children’s pools, giant water slides, jacuzzis, waterfalls, water currents, thermal springs, massage showers, sunbeds, sauna and bathhouses.
Those who want to be physically active away from the slopes, can also use the 3 tennis courts in Briançon as well as the sportscentre ALP’SQUASH (600m²), which is fitted out with 2 squash courts, 2 badminton courts, an indoor table tennis area plus a golfsimulator.
Briancon’s „Laser Tag“ facility is popular among young ski-tourists. Here you fight solo or in a team in a labyrinth similar to those used in paintball games and try not to get hit. Harmless lasercanons are used however instead of colour cartridges.
The very young holiday guests can live it up in the indoor play area „Kidz Indoor“, which is equipped with classical toys, although in an XXL size. In addition to the massive lego pieces, building bricks and large wooden cars, there are also climbing and tunnel facilities plus normal-sized board games. „Fighting“ in a large inflated sumo-costume is also particularly fun for both adults and children.
Furthermore, Briançon has several attractive restaurants and bars and also a casino, a cinema and a theater, which all offer a varied evening programme.