No mountain hiking today – we are going to explore Briançon. One has to drive about 40km across the col d’Izoard pass to get there. The road to col d’Izoard goes by Arvieux and Brunisard (we visited it two days ago already).
The zigzags to the pass starts right behind the Brunisard. Just before the pass we stop at the parking in rather wild looking place. The road further squeezes by the 50m wide 100m high and very steep loose stone slope. Does not look very safe. Group of French tourists asks us to take a shot of them. Hands full of all kinds of cameras.
We drive up to the pass and decide to have a walk. Without boots and poles. This ends on a 2601m high L’Argelin summit. A tiny adventure with a height difference about 250m.
Next we drive downhill a little on the side of the Briancon and stop for a lunch in a Napoleon mountain refuge. There are several houses of Napoleon in this region. They are built on a heritage money left by the Napoleon – to thank people that helped him in his famous return from the Elba island.
We take the zigzag road down to the lower part of Briancon. The cities oldest part is located on the hill top and protected by the walls of fortress built by Vauban – the marshal of Louis XIV. The newer part is down in the valley – with a beautiful pedestrian streets, restaurants and shops. We take a map at the tourist center and drive uphill to the Vauban city of Briancon (Briançon – cite Vauban).
The entrance to the old town goes through the two gates across the drawbridge. The main street (pedestrian as most of the streets here) starts on the other side of the gates and goes steeply down. On the top part there stands the fortress (Fort chateau), some other fortresses (at least 3) are on the hilltops around. Vauban has mad a decent effort to defend France against the possible Italian invasion (Italy is nearby behind a mountain pass).
We walk to the stone bridge across a gorge where the steep uphill path to the next fortress starts. This we leave for the next time and return to walk around inside the first fortress. It looks sort of similar to the Queyras fortress. There are marvelous views on the old town as well as on the newer part of city from the top of the fortress.
Tasty blueberry pancakes come very handy in a cozy little restaurant right outside the Vauban town gates to return to ones feelings after the lengthy up and down walk .
Several stops on a way back to Abries. The first one is forced – by a large sheep herd going across the road.