The forts of Esseillon

Natural rocky barrier, the glacial lock of Esseillon was used to build these fortresses whose purpose was to protect the country from the enemy. This military place has not been the place of fighting but it is nevertheless full of history and was classified as a "Historic Monument" in 1983.

The 5 forts constitute "La Barrière de l'Esseillon" whose purpose was to protect the Kingdom of Piedmont Sardinia against French invasions. It is now a site not to be missed with treasure hunts for the whole family, via-ferrata routes, exhibition areas, restaurants and accommodation.

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".

The Esseillon barrier at Aussois, Fort Victor-Emmanuel. In the background: the Dent Parrachée.

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.

AussoisFort Victor-Emmanuel, the Barrière de l'Esseillon, a military heritage to discover
La Barrière de l'Esseillon, the 5 forts of l'Esseillon, Aussois
Kids will love playing spies!

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.

Barrière de l'Esseillon, Fort Victor-Emmanuel, Aussois, family walks to discover our heritage

Fort Marie-Christine

Restaurant 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-Emmanuel

Games course, via-ferrata and museum

In the largest fort in l'Esseillon(Fort Victor Emmanuel), a treasure hunt offers children and their families a guided tour. Children can put themselves in the shoes of a 19th-century French spy to find out more about this fort built by the Kingdom of Piedmont Sardinia. Clue by clue, game by game, they can discover the mysteries of l'Esseillon. Fort Victor Emmanuel is also home to a new museum space dedicated to the rock engravings found aroundAussois and in Haute Maurienne Vanoise.

Fort Victor-Emmanuel is also the starting point for the magnificent via-ferrata du Diable. With seven sections at different levels, it's a must for your stay at Aussois.

Un espion à l'Esseillon" game trail, Aussois, Forts de l'Esseillon, Fort Victor-Emmanuel
The Marie-Thérèse Redoubt, the Esseillon forts, Haute Maurienne Vanoise

La Redoute Marie-Thérèse

Museum, escape-game and accrobranche

To find out even more about the history of the Forts, the Marie-Thérèse Redoubt, with its astonishing "horseshoe" architecture on the left bank of the Arc (pedestrian access from Aussois via the superb "Pont du Diable"), houses a Fortified Heritage Interpretation Centre. La Redoute also offers treasure hunts and escape games.

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.

Access to the forts from Aussois

The forts can be visited all year round (self-guided or guided tours). Footpath from the village or access by car to the Fort Victor-Emmanuel parking lot. In winter, access on foot or snowshoes from Aussois (the road is closed).