Located at an altitude of 1,326 metres, at the confluence of five valleys, Briançon is the highest town in France. This City of Art of History, fortified by French military architect Vauban in the 18th century, is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site precisely because of its remarkable group of fortifications built between the 18th and 20th centuries in order to improve the town's defence system.
A tour of Briançon takes in the upper town, or Vauban citadel – the very heart of the town and overlooked by the fortified castle – and the surrounding forts, Salettes, Trois Têtes and Randouillet.
Once through the Pignerol gate, the incredibly picturesque old town offers visitors many examples of its past. There's plenty to explore for architecture fans, including the 18th-century collegiate church of Notre-Dame, 14th-century Cordeliers church, old houses lining the steep, narrow streets, the charming Place d'Armes square which is surrounded by pretty, colourful Provence-style facades, fountains and sundials.
In winter, Briançon turns into a favourite destination for ski lovers as its ski area is part of the famous Serre Chevalier ski resort.