Stefano, one of the riders from the Galibier/Alpe d'Huez/Izoard trip, wanted to go so I was able to get a ride to Briancon. Due to some traffic jams in Italy it took 6 hours from Verona to Briancon. Upon arriving the first thing we noticed were the road closing signs. Just about every road would be closed the next day, and the one back to Italy, over the pass, wouldn't open until 10:00 pm after the stage which would end at 5:00 p.m. It was the first clue about the enormity of the Tour de France. Complicating matters from a security standpoint was the planned visit of President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Our plan was this: take public transportation from our hotel to the center of Briancon the next morning, sight see, explore the best vantage points, pick up our bracelets to get into the Club Tour de France and watch the race.
Briancon is a charming city, the highest in elevation in Europe. The historical center is a strongly fortified town, built by Vauban to defend the region from Austrians in the 17th century. Its streets are very steep and narrow, though picturesque. Briançon lies at the foot of the descent from the Mont Genèvre Pass, giving access to Turin, so a great number of other fortifications have been constructed on the heights around it, especially towards the east.
Photos: Briancon in the distance as we came down the Genevre Pass, the fortifications that surround the city, narrow streets, a sculpture in the city center, Briancon river crossing