© Alban PERNET

The Esseillon fortifications

A natural rocky barrier, the glacial lock of the Esseillon was used to build fortresses whose purpose was to protect the country from the enemy. This military square was not the scene of fighting, but it is nevertheless steeped in history and is classified as a “Historic Monument”.

Places full of history!

The forts of Esseillon were built between 1815 and 1830 at the time of the Kingdom of Piedmont and Sardinia according to the plans of the Marquis of Montalembert.

The Esseillon glacier lock (Piedmontese scale) was perfectly suited to the architect’s conception, which advocated mutual defence of each fort by crossfire.

They bear the first names of the members of the royal family: Victor Emmanuel and Marie-Thérèse, Charles-Félix and Marie-Christine, Charles-Albert.

A bit of architecture …

The fortified ensemble of the Esseillon is related to the conceptions of the Marquis de Montalembert (1714-1800) whose theories are opposed to those of Vauban.

The various works are named after one of the members of the Royal family. Marie-Christine, Marie-Therese, Victor-Emmanuel, Charles-Albert and Charles-Felix, but none of these forts had to undergo the test of fire.

It was in 1860, during the annexation of Savoy to France, that they became national heritage. Three of these forts have been restored to date, including one housing a gite restaurant and the other, the fortified heritage interpretation center.


The forts are still being restored and can be visited (open houses or guided tours). As a family, children can put themselves in the shoes of a soldier and follow the trail in Fort Victor-Emmanuel.

While the Marie-Thérèse Redoubt houses the Centre d’interprétation du patrimoine fortifié and Fort Marie-Christine offers quality accommodation and food.

To do, to see

around the forts

We access the forts:


  • either by the D1006, 5 km from Modane, car park in front of the Marie-Thérèse Redoubt


  • or by Aussois: Fort Marie-Christine, Charles Albert, Charles Félix and Victor-Emmanuel, the old fort road between Aussois and Avrieux
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