Vue panoramique sur Colmars-les-Alpes. Au premier plan le Fort de France. Source : ©Olivier JOSEPH - GNU Free Documentation License
The site of Colmars-les-Alpes, a rocky outcrop in the Ubaye valley, is one of the interesting legacies of Vauban's task of fortifying the borders.
Colmars-les-Alpes is a mountain village in the Alps of Haute Provence, located in the high valley of the Verdon between the Col d'Allos and Saint André les Alpes and controls the border with the Savoie river Ubaye via the Col d'Allos. Its military history bears witness to its strategic position: the village is surrounded by ramparts and guarded by two forts. At the end of the 14th Century, Colmars-les-Alpes was in fact a border town with the territory of the Duke of the Savoie, who was in alliance with the Spanish. Its situation on an outcrop in the valley forced the people and the authorities to modify and complete their defensive system. In the 17th Century Colmars-les-Alpes was provided with the system of well-developed fortifications that gives it its current appearance. The system, conceived from the recommendations of Vauban, who never went to the town, demonstrates the adaptability of the architect's plans to suit existing structures and the terrain.
The collection of fortifications comprises the town and a large walled enclosure marked by monumental gates, supported by the Fort de France and the Fort de Savoie. This plan was suggested by Niquet, who was director of fortifications for Provence. Initially, the town was enclosed by fortified towers, which Vauban considered to be too weak. He therefore suggested flanking the square with two forts. These structures were built by Richerand.
Downstream, from the side of the entrance to the town, Fort Calvaire or the Fort de France was built to a square plan.
Upstream, Fort Saint-Martin or the Fort de Savoie was built, which was trapezoid in shape. It was flanked by a tower whose lines were criticised by Vauban - his recommendations were not followed. The Fort de Savoie, perched on a hill to the north of Colmars-les-Alpes, was built from 1793 onwards. The building was a contemporary of the citadel at Entrevaux. It was supposed to contain any invasion from the Savoie. It could house up to 150 men.
Access is via the D 908 which links Saint André les Alpes to Barcelonnette The fort de Savoie is open in July and August Guided tours every day at 10 am Tourist Information Office: + 33 (0) 126.96.36.199.92 The Fort de France is not open to the public