•Alpes-Maritimes (06850) • Population: 194 • Altitude: 1010 m
Briançonnet is a small, pretty village in the upper valley of the Esteron, on a low pass of the back country mountains between Grasse and Entrevaux.
Briançonnet is located in the hills well north of Grasse, east of Castellane and south of Entrevaux on the Var river. You can drive there from the south, up from the Route Napoleon via the Clue de St-Auban (past the village of Saint Auban), or south over the hills from Entrevaux.
The village is small, without a lot of activity, but pretty and in a beautiful setting. A long range of low mountain, with a rocky barre, stretches along the north side of the village. Looking east is a long, wide valley, low hills, and snowy mountains in the distance. We were last there in the Autumn, with wonderful fall colors everywhere, and sheep grazing in the fields below. At the south side of Briançonnet, a steep rocky ridge is topped by the ruins of the ancient castle.
Inside the village there's a long main street, with the church and its bell tower at the northeast end and a large colorful building at the southwest end.
The "Chanan" is a bar-restaurant (and auberge?) located on the main street and open all year. During our visit, we had the extremely rare experience of a rather rude and unfriendly bar-maid/server. It was probably just a bad day (for her, not us) and wouldn't put us off a repeat visit. It's only worth mentioning because of the rarity of unfriendly people in French villages.
There are some vaulted passages off the main street, but the most interesting part of Briançonnet is really the views from the village, and the views of the village from the outside.
Commerce consists of a small grocery store (Alimentation - tabac), open every day, all year (closed Wed and Sun afternoons). To find it though, you need an observant eye or you'll need to ask, because there's no shop window. It's behind the plain brown door at the left side of the large, pastel-orange building facing the southwestern end of the main street. A transparent plaque beside the door identifies the place (once your close enough to see it), and a round purple sign hangs on the doorknob when they're open.
A small park at the west end of the village has picnic tables on the grass. At the southern corner of the village as short street leads out to a small, nicely refurbished chapel, where there's a great view of the valleys and hills to the west, including the sharp rocks of the Clue de Saint-Auban.
The commune of Briançonnet includes the village, the hamlet of Le Prignolet (5 km west) and the hamlet of La Sagne (9 km northwest).
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History of Briançonnet
The Roman site of Brigantio, then Brianzo. In the 11th century it was cited as Castelli Briancionis.
Gallo-Roman: Many Roman inscriptions have been installed in the walls of various houses of the village, and Roman stones are located here.
Medieval: Briançonnet was a domain of Grasse-Bar from 1474 until the French Revolution.
• GPS: 43.864687, 6.758134
IGN (1/25,000) #3542 ET "Haut Estéron"
IGN (1/25,000) #3542 OT "Castellane, Lac de Castillon"
The GR510 (Grande Randonnée) hiking trail passes through Briançonnet.
Southwest: the GR510 departs the south end of the village, goes over the Col de l'Escouissier (1271 m) and then follows valleys (and some roads) on its way south to Valderoure and on.
Northeast: the GR510 departs from the center of the village to the east, passes along the lower part of the ridge below the castle ruins and goes to the wee village of Gars. The GR510 continues northeast, crossing the GR4 hiking trail about 10 km northeast.