Fort de Joux, France



A couple miles down the road from Pontarlier (population 18,000) stands Fort de Joux. The fort sits high on a steep and rocky hill affording great views of the surrounding countryside. Since the 1400's this fortress has been guarding the narrow passage below--an important trading route from Italy to the rest of Europe. In 1690 Vauban added defensive fortifications to Fort de Joux as well as having a 400 foot deep well (a football field is 360 feet long) dug through the rocks---it's reportedly the largest and deepest water well in Europe. Pontarlier, located at the foot of the Jura Mountains, hasn't much to brag about other than being the second highest town in France. It gets pretty darn cold in the winter and the area is known as the Siberia of France. I mention this because Fort de Joux was considered the boondocks of France and a miserable place to be stuck in prison because of its isolation and cold weather. The walls of the fort look pretty formidable and it wouldn't be easy to attack. Fort Larmont sits on the other side of the narrow passage.