I spent a week in Briancon a few years ago b/c of family ski trip. It is a charming little town with a fortified old town section. The place we stayed was near the ski station; it was rustic but would not say it had a lot of upscale charm! It was family-owned by very friendly folks at the time but have read that is has since been bought by some other people so I'm not recommending it.
We didn't run into any other Americans the whole week we were in the area; anyone speaking English was from the UK.
We've visited the area a lot, but haven't spent a huge amount of time at Briancon. The fort is of interest, and a lot of people holiday there in the Serre Chevalier, with ski villages around the area. A hotel I've heard some good things about:
Not far away is La Grave, which might make a good contrast to the rest of your holiday in the Luberon, looking out on to the Meiije glaciers. It has a busy road running through the centre, but the views of the mountains are wonderful! We've spent a lot of time in the area, and have often run up to La Grave from Venosc, where we usually stay.
This hotel has rooms away from the road, looking out on to the mountains, some with balconies. Some good food too.
There are marvellous drives nearby, with stunning views; some such as driving up/down Col de Galibier give a taste of the Tour de France, and Col de Lauteret has an alpine garden as well as views.
Hearty mountain food is to be found around the area, with local cheese dishes etc , as well as more refined cooking as in the hotels above.Edited: 14 June 2010, 06:09
We stayed in 2008. We had difficulties in getting any of the hotels at the Serre to reply to us. In the end we booked at a small hotel near the old town which was fairly pitiful. Cheap decor, no assistance up stairs with our luggage, surly people on the desk (which is not what we usually find) and stale breakfast. The Vauban fortress is a mighty place overlooking the town and the town itself is enclosed and fortified. We had a nice meal in the main square and explored the church. We are not skiers so that didn't interest us but the road in was quite lovely.
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Thank you all so much! I will follow through on the links provided. A good thing is that we have nearly a year to think about it.
The old town of Briancon itself is worth a couple of hours, but it's the surroundings that make it worthwhile. If you like alpine scenery and walking, try the nearby Nevache valley - quieter and less well known than the other places mentioned, as the road is a dead end, and it is protected from the ski development that now affects much of the area.
I Love Briancon. Typically french, Stayed at the Auberge de Mont Prorel.It is cheap and clean, quite rustic really. Food is great. The Old Town is fascinating and the many villages nearby are worth visiting. Particulary Nevache. a really pretty charming place. Maybe 2 days won't be long enough.
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