Mont Dauphin en hiver dans les Hautes-Alpes
©Di Duca.M

Mont-Dauphin: a UNESCO Alpine Stronghold

A UNESCO World Heritage site since 2008, the fortifications of Mont-Dauphin offer a striking contrast to the gentle, sunlit surrounding scenery. Today, you can enjoy crossing the ramparts’ ancient gate, touring the town, and discovering its remarkable heritage.

A fortification signed by Vauban

A place where time stands still

In 1693, Louis XIV ordered the erection of a fortress in response to onslaughts led by the Duke of Savoie. Napoleon’s military engineer Vauban was put in charge of the project, and his extraordinary fortification was baptized in honour of Louis XIV’s son. Mont-Dauphin offers a formidable testimony to the genius of Vauban, with its Fort des Têtes, powder room, Rochambon barracks and their astonishing arched tunnel ceiling . Continue the tour with a visit to the Lunette d’Arçon – a tower added in the 19th century by a General of the same name -and the underground galleries. At the exit from the galleries, watch out for the chauguette, a little lodge used to shelter watchmen that is suspended from the facade.

The coast is clear

Stunning views over the plateau

Perched at an altitude of 1,050 metres, around 10 minutes from Risoul, the stronghold is built on a rock on the aptly-named « milles vents » (thousand winds) plateau. The site was chosen for its strategic location overlooking the Guil and Durance valleys, hence acting as a protective barrier for the territories of Provence and the Dauphiné alike. Today, it is famed for its extraordinary viewpoints over the Queyras mountains and Écrins glaciers. Another bonus: the Sentier des Marmottes is an easy, 1.5-hour walk, perfect for discovering the fortress with all the family. And in spring and summer, some cute little furry marmots are sure to pop out to greet you! Raise your eyes too, to catch a glimpse of the bats that have set up home here.

Cultivating heritage

A garden where local legends flourish

Vauban wasn’t just a brilliant architect: he also drew up various rules for daily life at the fortress relating, for example, to the soldiers’ diet. The historic garden still unveils a myriad of edible and medicinal plants, including the ingredients used to make the traditional soupe au bled (wheat flour, bacon, onions and spring onions) so dear to Vauban. Today, the gardener continues to nurture heritage plants such as Queyras bearded rye, black iris and pink spinach and is always delighted to share his passion and knowledge with visitors.

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Une publication partagée par Isabelle Vecchione Beauvais (@isabeau_spqr) le