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. Dec 31, 2016 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. Dec 31, 2016 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. Dec 31, 2016 at 4:57
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    La Rosière and Montgenèvre are the only two ski centers straddling France and Italy I could find. Montgenèvre would match the Embrun and Briançon clues you've already found ;)
    – 7hibault
    Jan 3, 2017 at 14:42
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    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, 2017 at 15:17

1 Answer 1


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!

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