Collegiate church of Briançon : the clock on the ceiling and other dials

The Collegiate Church of Briançon is home to a few curiosities, the strangest of which is a clock embedded in the ceiling of the building.

The Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame-Saint-Nicolas was built at the beginning of the 18th century to replace the old medieval church destroyed during the construction of the ramparts.

The plans of the church were then revised, corrected by Vauban, and the work began in 1703 and was completed in 1718.

The Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame-Saint-Nicolas was intended for worship, but it could also serve as a strategic retreat and a place of refuge for the inhabitants in case of a siege of the city: it could indeed hold 1500 people.

Since a siege could last several days, it was necessary to have the time.

Moreover, looking at the time during mass was very inconvenient.

It was therefore decided to install the clock on the ceiling, above the entrance gate. This way, one could only look at the time when leaving the mass.

The Collegiate Church of Briançon is one of the five churches in the world with this type of dial, a dial operated by a first "Silvestre" clock installed in 1719, then by a second "Gros" clock installed in 1786.

In 1989, Stéphane Ferraris, then a BTS MI student at the Lycée d'Altitude, and three members of his family, had the brilliant idea of connecting the "Odobey" clock, which they had restored, to the "Cadran de Vauban". This daring project, which requires 14 meters of linkage, three angle transmissions, a reducer and a lot of passion, was completed on August 15, 1991.

Outside the Collegiate Church, the facades of the bell towers, plastered with whitewash, correspond to the aisles.

They are decorated, on the south side, with a sundial painted by Chalvet in 1719, and on the north side with a clock.

Many other sundials adorn the facades of many buildings in the Hautes Alpes department.


Collegiate church of Briançon

Avenue Vauban,

05100 Briançon

Tel : 04 92 20 29 49


Translated with

(free version)


Also to be seen in the department

Notre-Dame du Laus

Notre-Dame du Laus, « refuge des Pêcheurs »

placeSaint-Étienne-le-Laus – Hautes-Alpes 
label Saints, healers and other miracles... Religious, mystical & pagan cults  
La Fontaine Pétrifiante

The Petrifying Fountain of Réotier

placeRéotier – Hautes-Alpes 
label Archaeology and old stones Natural curiosities Amazing... isn't it?  

La Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Réal, plus grand monument des Hautes-Alpes

placeEmbrun – Hautes-Alpes
label Remarkable buildings Records: The +'s and -'s Religious, mystical & pagan cults  
L'Abbaye de Rosans

Rosans Abbey: Sisters settled in an old agricultural farm!

placeRosans - Hautes-Alpes 
label Religious, mystical & pagan cults  

Discover the regions of the Great South