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Attack a fortress on a BMW - 1


Francois_Dumas

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Francois_Dumas

Briançon.

 

Another town we've been riding and driving through before, but never stayed long enough to savor.

 

This time we did. We arrived the night before after our ride to Gap, Lake Serre Poncon and the Col de la Bonette. We found the Ibis hotel using our trusted Zümo, and had a wonderful McDonald's dinner (!!!!) that evening.

 

Turned out the hotel didn't have a restaurant anymore, and we were too tired and cold to get all dressed up again and find something in town.....

At least the breakfast was good and the 'Motard Special' (special price for bikers) was a nice surprise. we only paid 53 Euros for the night including breakfast !

 

Here's Nina getting ready for yet another long day in the saddle...... but tonight we'll be home again :-)

 

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Alright, but lets get back to the story in hand.

We're in Briançon, high up in the (southern) Alps and heading for the Galibier to get us back north and eastward.

 

Briançon, like many towns in the region, was originally a Roman settlement... and fortress no doubt. The old name was Brigantium and it formed part of the Kingdom of King Cottius.

 

Here's an interesting site about the fortresses: http://www.fortified-places.com/briancon.html

 

The fortress, which holds an entire town actually, lies high above the main town of Briançon. We rode up and I curiously steered towards to what appeared to be the main entrance of the fort.

 

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A little Peugeot 'meeped' at us and speeded past, disappearing through the main gate.

 

Ah, so we could go inside? Maybe we could park the bike there?

I made a picture first....... then 'headed into town'...

 

 

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Well, that turned out to be somewhat of a mistake.

Inside the walls I couldn't readily decide on which sidewalk to park the bike, so I carried on into a small street..... or rather alley...

 

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The thing turned out to get even smaller, and steeper. After a few corners and hairpins we found ourselves, luckily unscathed, outside the other end on a small gravel parking.

 

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I shot this one picture, balancing the bike between my legs, before turning around in the slippery gravel and carefully finding our way back. This time we found a steep little cobblestone road on the edge of the fortified town that was a little wider.

 

The funny thing is that there is no road sign or anything stopping anybody from driving in. And the locals have their cars parked at the weirdest places.

 

After we escaped from the fort, we parked the bike here!

 

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A sign tells us that there are about 100 SHOPS inside !... Uhoh.....

 

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The entrance we took is at the far end of the photo. Nice and quiet in September, everywhere.

 

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The main moat, if that's what it is called......

 

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A placard at the entrance tells us some recent history about the fort (recent, because it was built back in 1700-something)

 

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"......... On August 15, 1815, General Eberle and other high ranking people, a small garrison and the civil population refused to surrender to the Austrian attackers.

 

The soldiers and civilians withstood a siege of three months.

 

Through their determination they prevented weapons and military material to fall into the hands of the enemy and the destruction of the fortifications.

 

150th anniversary of this siege was on August 8, 1965.....".

 

 

Not sure what these conducts were used for. Either sewage, or maybe water or goods transport?

 

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It was none too warm yet, so we kept our riding gear on..... Nina entering one of the monumental main gates...... see the grate above her head ???

 

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These doors were not meant to withstand canon balls, but you'd need more than a few men to break into this place !

 

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A bit further inside the fortress/town is the armory.

 

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The streets or alleys are lined with little souvenir shops, bars, restaurants and other.

 

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This is the main fortress with the city inside. But there are steep cliffs all around and more fortresses built on many of them. The entire area was an 'entrance' into France, or into Italy depending on your direction..... and a good place to defend.

 

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The big church stands out from all over the place......

 

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More in the second installment of this tale.........

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Dutchy

 

 

Do the shops stay open at night????

 

Is there a place to stay inside the Fort????????

 

It looks kinda dark and gloomy........is it a safe place to hang out when the sun goes down?????

 

You got a map of this trip?????

 

 

I have more questions but I'm worried about my etiquette. :rofl:

 

 

 

Whip

 

 

 

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I have more questions but I'm worried about my etiquette.

 

Now that is a food one!!!

 

Most worthy Francois! Very neat pictures and place!!! Did you get a chance to take a picture of it from a distance?

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Francois_Dumas
Dutchy

 

 

Do the shops stay open at night????

 

Is there a place to stay inside the Fort????????

 

It looks kinda dark and gloomy........is it a safe place to hang out when the sun goes down?????

 

You got a map of this trip?????

 

 

I have more questions but I'm worried about my etiquette. :rofl:

 

 

 

Whip

 

 

 

 

You're worried about YOUR etiquette !!?? What do you think of MINE !!??? I thought it was e-ticket ....... :)

 

As to your (and other's) questions:

 

The shops are open until 19:30 or thereabouts, depends a bit on season.

 

No, there are no hotels or B&B inside the walls as far as I can find. Sure didn't see any, just souvenir shops and the likes.

 

Yes, it is safe :)

 

I will make a map when I'm done with the pictures. Thought I could use my Garmin 'track', but it is too embarrassing to show :rofl::rofl:

 

Richard, yeah we have a few, but they're not so good... Nina took them from a speeding BMW.... first when we finally arrived at the town in the late afternoon, and the next morning with her own camera after leaving the fort and starting off in the wrong direction !!! :dopeslap:

 

I'll post some of what is deemed acceptable later.....

 

And like Whip, I have to watch my e-tickets now of course.....

 

 

 

 

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I think Whip would like Lucca.

 

Actually, all of the Tuscan hill towns are medieval fortress cities that you can in fact stay in, and have great shopping. Shopping generally closes at about 1700 - 1900, but restaurants (osteria, trattoria) open around 1900, and the night life begins. Lucca is large, with the walls still completely intact. Parking is available along the outside of the walls for free, and you can walk in.

 

This place is complete with all the narrow ways, strange passages, and other medieval (and earlier) trappings. It is flat, not so much a hill town as say Volterra or Montalcino. At grave risk to my e-ticket portfolio, I'll post some pics in RDOT.

 

North of town, to the west is the mtn range with Carrera in it (the marble place), and to the east is another range. You can drive up the valley in between to visit all the castles and cathedrals that line the valleys and mountain walls. You would be a hop skip and a jump from the Italian Riviera - the Cinque Terre there too.

 

Jan

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Francois_Dumas

Yup, the Italian towns are really 'cool'! We were in Umbria and Tuscany last year (and planned to repeat it this Summer, but alas) and had a wonderful time there. Italy is more 'open' than France for sure, and life goes on later too!

 

We now know some great places in Umbria (which is even cheaper than Tuscany), not to mention our friends and neighbors who emigrated to a village near Perugia. We'll most certainly will spend more time there in the years to come :-)

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Francois_Dumas

 

Most worthy Francois! Very neat pictures and place!!! Did you get a chance to take a picture of it from a distance?

 

On special request:

 

 

It wasn't so much 'it' bit more 'them'. The valley is literally strewn with fortresses..... I always had approached the town from the other side (north), where there are far fewer. So we got surprised a little ourselves when riding into town that day....

 

 

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Sorry, Nina did take them off the bike a bit hastily, while I was trying to find my way to the hotel... and dodging a fair number of French drivers anxious to get home.....

 

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'Our' fortress to the left again.... this was late afternoon, coming down from the passes. We'd visit the citadel the next morning

 

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This is a shot I took from the hotel parking lot..... walking to the McDonalds right across the street. I know... I know....

 

To the left is the fortress seen in the center of the previous photos... the one on the right is the highest. But there are many more than can be seen here.

 

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After visiting the fortified town the next morning, we jumped on the bike, happily chatting through the intercom about what we had just seen and experienced, slightly hurried because bad weather was forecasted and we had a long way to go...... and thus happily taking off in the opposite direction as planned......

 

This is on the way BACK to the town, once again passing the fortresses. Nina now had a few fresh batteries in her little Nikon.

 

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I believe the cell phone antenna is not entirely authentic...... :)

 

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There are many and much better pictures to be found via Google. We will come back here and stay some more days to visit the higher fortresses as well. I love these old defense works and continue to be amazed at the work these people were able to put into it. Must have been tough times !!

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Absolutely fantastic! Thanks for the "perspective" pictures!

 

I now have a new destination on my list of places to go!

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A placard at the entrance tells us some recent history about the fort (recent, because it was built back in 1700-something)

 

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I just love visiting Europe to see all the beautiful old things that were built to last. Over here it's rare to come across anything older than 1800.

 

There were forts here in the 1700's, and even some that figured in Napoleonic-era battles like the one in your photo, but of course they were made of wood, unlike all these splendid stone fortresses, so ours are long gone.

 

Thanks for sharing this!

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