14

In 2015 I found myself in Avignon, France having just been mugged, all alone, with no money, credit cards etc. I had to make it to Italy and didn't have money to use toll roads. My navigator (long defunct) was able to find a route to Turin which I followed almost without a pause (as I had a ferry to catch on the Adriatic coast). I would like now to take the same route once again to revive the memories of this incredible (for my otherwise mundane life) adventure but being a native of neither France nor Italy I would need some help to identify the places. What I remember is the following:

  • After Avignon my navigator took me through the most breathtaking alpine scenery driving on a simple two lane road through narrow gorges with streams of pristine water everywhere.
  • I then came to a village / town (I would say in the order of 2 - 3 thousand inhabitants) up in the mountains approximately 90 kilometers from the Italian border. The town had a railway station and a gendarmerie.
  • After a short pause for sleep in my car, I drove on and a short way from the border (10 kilometers) I drove through a spectacular town on the mountainside with a very impressive fort on its highest point.
  • Then came more ascent through hairpin bends and finally, at what surely was a saddle point on the mountainous landscape, came the border which had a very modest border control post. What was very characteristic is that there was a ski center right on the border straddling both countries. I could see people with their ski gear on ski lifts just a few dozen meters off the road.
  • After the border crossing it was literally descent all the way to Turin.

Can you help me identify the border crossing and the major places I went through?

  • I tried it though I didn't know about the option to avoid tolls. – Marcus Junius Brutus Dec 31 '16 at 4:17
  • If Claviere was the crossing I am failing to locate the mountainside town with the impressive fort 10 kilometers before the border. – Marcus Junius Brutus Dec 31 '16 at 4:39
  • @pnuts plus Claviere is on the Italian side and after crossing the border I don't believe I drove through a town on the Italian side for some time... Regarding the picture I only saw the fort from below (as it was commanding the French town I drove through 10 kilometers or so before the border). Could be it but its hard to say. – Marcus Junius Brutus Dec 31 '16 at 4:57
  • @pnuts Looking at the maps I think that the last French town I crossed was Briancon which does have a citadel so you maybe right about Claviere. Also, the other town I stopped at (with the train station and the gendarmerie) was likely Chorges not Gap (much too big). Chorges does have a railway station from what I can see on google maps. If someone can confirm whether Chorges has a small gendarmerie station (half a dozen men and a few vehicles) that would settle it. – Marcus Junius Brutus Dec 31 '16 at 5:43
  • 1
    From France direct to Turin the choices are very limited: (1) Montgenèvre (Monginevro), a few kilometers from Briançon (that has a big fort above it), where a large ski station straddling the border is located; (2) the Fréjus tunnel; (3) Montcenis (Moncenisio), which has no big town on the French side. From Avignon to Briançon there are basically two routes: one via Nyons and Gap, the other via Cavaillon and Apt, then Sisteron or Digne-les-Bains; they meet somewhere between Gap and Embrun. Most likely is the first one, via Gap. – egreg Jan 3 '17 at 15:17
8

Ok so I am now certain that the last substantial town with the impressive fort on top was Briançon and so the border crossing was Montgenevre / Claviere. The other (much smaller) town with the train station and the gendermerie about 90 kilometers from the border is lost in the mist of time. Could by Embrun, Chorges or a score of other little towns. If any of the helpful commentators wishes to turn his comment as an answer I'll gladly accept it. Thanks for helping me find Briancon!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.