3 / Briançon and its ramparts
Considered to be the highest town in France, at an altitude of 1,300 metres, Briançon is a picturesque commune steeped in history. Located just 15 km from Italy, it has been under Italian and then French rule on several occasions. The old town, nestling on a hill, is particularly charming, with its narrow streets and stone houses. Briançon is also famous for the Cité Vauban. These fortifications, built by Vauban, Louis XIV's architect, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
4 / Lautaret botanical garden
Situated at an altitude of 2,100 metres, this bucolic garden lets you discover the wealth of Alpine flora, with no fewer than 2,000 mountain species from all over the world. Open to the surrounding peaks, surrounded by rivers, pontoons and traditional chalets, the Jardin du Lautaret blends perfectly into this enchanting environment in the Hautes-Alpes.
5 / The Fournel silver mines
Silver has been mined commercially in the Fournel valley for hundreds of years. The company that ran the mine was once the largest employer in the Hautes-Alpes. It's this rich and little-known history that you can now discover on a guided tour in the commune of l'Argentière-la-Bessée. The galleries can also be explored in a fun way, with enigmatic escapade games.
6 / "Cols du Galibier et de l’Izoard" by byke
Cycling fans and followers of the Tour de France will recognise the names of these legendary passes, which have been climbed many times during the event and have been at the heart of some of the greatest battles between riders. On the border between Savoie
and the Hautes-Alpes, the Col du Galibier has been crossed 63 times during the Tour de France. As for the Col de L'Izoard, 1,170 metres of ascent await you from Briançon, with a passage through the casse déserte, a geological curiosity due to its rocky landscape and ochre-coloured rocks.
7 / "Les Demoiselles Coiffées"
A geological curiosity that is unique in France, these "capped damselflies" are made up of eroded rock formations several metres high. They resemble columns with stone "caps" at the top. Although they can be found in several places in the Hautes-Alpes, the most famous are in the Queyras valley, near the village of Ceillac. Hiking trails allow you to admire them up close and learn more about their fascinating geological formation.
8 / Climbing the Barre des Ecrins
The second highest peak in France, the Barre des Ecrins is as dizzying as it is magical. To climb this high mountain to an altitude of 4,102 metres, you need mountaineering experience and motivation. All it takes is a little effort to enjoy the memorable experience of standing next to a mythical summit, where nature reclaims its rights and man feels miniscule in the midst of landscapes that seem infinite. The ascent generally starts from the Pré de Madame Carle, above the village of Ailefroide.
9 / The gorges of the Méouge
If you're looking for a cool spot in the middle of summer, the Méouge gorges
are the place to be. Turquoise waters, waterfalls, a Romanesque bridge and riverside rocks: what better place to take a dip? The gorges can also be descended by canoe or kayak when the water is sufficiently plentiful.
10 / Saint-Veran: Europe's highest village
Perched at an altitude of 2,042 metres, making it quite simply the highest village in Europe, Saint-Veran lies at the heart of the Queyras National Park. It's an ideal location for enjoying the dazzling natural surroundings, as close as possible to the stars. Its astronomical observatory, the Pic de Châteaurenard observatory (2,936 metres), is a great place to contemplate the immensity of the celestial vault. Saint-Véran lives up to its slogan of "a village where roosters peck at the stars".