Aerial view on the city Briancon. France

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Cité Vauban


Surrounded by mighty starburst-shaped ramparts, Briançon’s hilltop old town looks much as it did centuries ago, its winding cobbled lanes lined with Italianate, pastel-painted townhouses. The steep main street, the Grande Rue – also known as the Grande Gargouille (Great Gargoyle) because of its gushing rivulet – was laid out in 1345. You can walk all the way around the interior of Vauban's upper ramparts, enjoying spectacular views, by following the streets marked as the chemin de Ronde.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Dauphiné attractions

1. Collégiale Notre Dame et St Nicolas


Illuminated by its exterior Dauphiné coat of arms and sundial (among the oldest in the Alps), the twin-towered 18th-century church, designed by Vauban,…

2. Vauban Fortifications

0.17 MILES

Situated at the confluence of five river valleys, Briançon was highly vulnerable to attack by France's Alpine arch-rival of the 17th century, the Duchy of…

3. Forte di Exilles

20.06 MILES

Worth a brief stop is the forbidding Forte di Exilles, overlooking the quiet village of Exilles, 15km west of Susa. Its military role only ended in 1943…

4. Grotte de Glace

22.47 MILES

Rainbow-lit caverns, tunnelled 30m into the Glacier des Deux Alpes, delight pint-sized visitors with ice statues of prehistoric and mythic beasts; grown…

5. Roman Ruins

25.55 MILES

In addition to the unmissable Arco d'Augusto, you can see the remains of a Roman aqueduct and a still-used amphitheatre here, along with a druid well that…

6. Arco d'Augusto

25.58 MILES

The pristine and impressive triumphal Arch of Augustus, dating to 9BC, sits just outside the centre of town. It marks the transition of power between the…

7. Parc National des Écrins

29.43 MILES

One of the greatest summertime pleasures of the French Alps is hiking in France’s second-largest national park. The glacier-carved, 918-sq-km park has…