Sitting at the crossroads of five alpine valleys at the gates of Italy, Briançon is one of the most spectacular fortified cities in France. In the 17th century, Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, the renowned military engineer of King Louis XIV, was entrusted with the challenging task of designing these mountain fortifications.
This defensive complex comprises urban walls, which spread over more than three kilometres; three forts (Randouillet, Dauphin and Trois Têtes) on the left bank of the Durance river, which are interconnected to the city by the Communication Y and the Asfeld Bridge; and a fourth fort (Salettes) located on the right bank of the river. This masterpiece of mountain fortifications, considered to be one of the finest in the world and recognised by UNESCO in 2008 as part of the network of 12 fortified ensembles designed by Vauban in France, is today seriously threatened by the degradation of the rocky foundations, severe frost and a general lack of maintenance.
The municipality of Briançon has developed an ambitious strategy for the restoration and promotion of its heritage, relying on the support of local organisations, among others. However, this economic and tourism development plan, based on the revitalisation of Vauban’s fortifications, can only be implemented with national, European and international assistance and expertise.