Tunnel de Parpaillon

Crossing the scary Tunnel de Parpaillon in the Cottian Alps

Parpaillon Tunnel is a defiant high mountain tunnel at an elevation of 2.650m (8,694ft) above the sea level, located on the boundary of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Hautes-Alpes departments, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of France. It's one of the highest roads of the country.

When was the Tunnel de Parpaillon built?

Set high in the Parpaillon massif within the Cottian Alps on the southeastern part of the country, the tunnel, at the summit of Col du Parpaillon, was built by the French Army starting in 1891, to facilitate the movement of troops guarding the border with Italy. Works on the road and tunnel lasted until 1911, although the tunnel was completed in 1901. Once a key route for military supplies, the road was abandoned in favour of the lower Col de Vars, a paved road which could be kept open in winter. It’s totally impassable from October to May.

How long is Tunnel de Parpaillon?

This famous mountain tunnel, one of the highest in Europe, is arched in the middle part and has a total length of 520 meters (1,710 ft). It’s in terrible conditions. The tunnel contains a lot of ice and water and is totally dark. It can be scary and highly recommended to stay outside. Long since abandoned, the spot is both uplifting and yet desolate in its remoteness but the views along the road are breathtaking. The tunnel connects the Ubaye Valley to Embrun.