The forts of Esseillon
The Esseillon forts were built between 1815 and 1830 at the time of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia to block the passage of French armies. The glacial lock of the Esseillon (ladder in Piedmontese) lent itself perfectly to these forts designed to defend each other by crossfire.
These buildings bear the first names of the sovereigns of the royal family: Victor Emmanuel and Marie-Thérèse, Charles-Félix and Marie-Christine, Charles-Albert. They locked the access to the main passage between France and Piedmont, thus controlling the royal road of Mont Cenis. The Barrier seemed impassable but... a few years after its construction was completed, Savoy became French and the forts lost all defensive utility.
This military place was not the place of combat but it remains nevertheless charged with history and is classified "Historic Monuments".
Fort Boyard and Forts de l'Esseillon
The same architectural concepts of the military engineer the marquis Marc-René de Montalembert
Built between 1815 and 1830 at the time of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, the fortified complex of l'Esseillon is linked to the conceptions of the Marquis of Montalembert (1714-1800) whose theories were opposed to those of Vauban.
The glacial lock of the Esseillon (ladder in Piedmontese) lent itself perfectly to the conception thought by the architect who advocated a mutual defense of each fort by crossed fire.
The different structures are named after members of the royal family. Marie-Christine, Marie-Thérèse, Victor-Emmanuel, Charles-Albert and Charles-Félix.
These imposing forts locked the access to the main passage between France and Piedmont, thus controlling the royal road of Mont-Cenis.
In 1860, when Savoy was annexed to France, they became national heritage.
Still under restoration, three of the five forts can be visited (free or accompanied tours). As a family, children can put themselves in the shoes of a soldier and follow the trail game in Fort Victor-Emmanuel.
The Marie-Thérèse Redoubt houses the Fortified Heritage Interpretation Centre, while the Marie-Christine Fort offers quality accommodation and catering.
Nearby: Parcobranche du Diable and tyroliennes, via ferrata du Diable, Guinguette de l'Esseillon, PSD, jeu de l'espion, Pont du Diable, la Gamelle du Soldat, cascade Saint-Benoît, information point, guided tours, nocturnes, escape games, cultural mediation area.
Fort Marie-ChristineRestaurant and gite in an unusual setting
The fort closest to the village (Fort Marie-Christine) has been completely restored and now houses a gîte and a restaurant. The fort can be visited (free access), which allows you to discover a model of the whole site of Esseillon, a very beautiful frame and a presentation of the Vanoise National Park.
Below, the Charles Félix fort is in ruins and access to it is dangerous and not recommended. It is the only ruined fort on the Esseillon barrier. In fact, when Savoie became French in 1860, the French undertook to destroy the Esseillon forts. To prove their good faith to the Italians, they started with Fort Charles Félix. Then... they stopped there and even occupied the remaining forts militarily for decades...
Fort Victor-EmmanuelGames course, via-ferrata and museum
In the biggest fort of l'Esseillon(the Victor Emmanuel fort), a treasure hunt offers children and families a scripted visit. Children can put themselves in the shoes of a 19th century French spy to try to find out more about this fort built by the Kingdom of Piedmont Sardinia. Clue after clue, game after game, they can discover the mysteries of the Esseillon. The Victor Emmanuel fort also houses a new museum space dedicated to the rock engravings found around Aussois and in Haute Maurienne Vanoise.
The Victor-Emmanuel fort is also the starting point of the magnificent via-ferrata of the Devil. With its seven sections of different levels, it is a must for your stay in Aussois.
La Redoute Marie-ThérèseMuseum, escape-game and accrobranche
To learn more about the history of the forts, the Marie-Thérèse Redoubt, with its amazing "horseshoe" architecture on the left bank of the Arc (pedestrian access from Aussois via the superb "Pont du Diable") houses a Fortified Heritage Interpretation Center. A museum that allows you to know everything about the origin of the forts, their construction, their use... Treasure hunts and escape games are also offered by the Redoubt.
Just next door, a large accrobranche park offers large tree courses for the whole family as well as vertiginous tyroliennes that allow you to "fly" over the Arc gorges.