Last week I was given the enviable task of scouting out a new route for 2011, at the moment all of our routes depart from the beautiful Swiss city of Zurich. The routes around Zurich are some of the best in the world, but there are others that are not easily accessible via Zurich. The obvious solution for 2011, and our growing client list, was to enlarge our range of breaks to another departure destination, Geneva.
The Airport in Geneva is run with Typical Swiss organization, very easy to navigate around and of course as you would expect very clean.
Before leaving I planned out a 4 day 1300KM tour, through the French Alps and Alps Maritimes, taking in what through extensive research are reported to be the best driving roads in this neck of the woods – and I was not disappointed….
The first day is the most technical in terms of driving taking you from Geneva to a beautiful French fortress town called Briancon. The drive is mostly mountain passes with some stunning scenery with the roads going up to 2500m altitude. Seez is a typical French chalet town which is perfect for lunch after which the journey continues with a road taking you through a fantastic contrast between the green lower passes and the barren landscape up high. The drive up is one of the best but coming down from the Mont Cenis onto the Italian side of things is amazing, with hairpins and cambered bends, everything a real driver needs. Briancon is a beautiful fortress town in which we spent the first night.
The second day was just as amazing in totally different way, the Bonnette is a fabulous drive that brings its rewards. The volcanic atmosphere is amazing; the road up from Briancon is an easy drive with some slightly more challenging parts surrounded by fantastic scenery. At the top you really have the feeling of being on top of the world,
the descent is made up of easy flowing roads with a Mediterranean feel to them where you can really get some speed up. The route continues along a gorge, with very nice panoramas followed by a nice descent towards the cote d’azur. Arriving at Monte Carlo we checked into the fabulous Metropole hotel just around the corner from the Casino and the port.
The Third Day took us along one of the most famous roads in France, the route Napoleon. The current Route Napoléon, first opened in 1932, follows the route taken by Napoléon I (Napoléon Bonaparte) in 1815 on his march from Elba to Grenoble, the route is a great road with fantastic flowing curves and views with a stop off point for coffee at Grasse, a nice old town which is the “capital of perfume”. We then followed the route to the “Gorge de verdon” , a gorge that is 738m high, also known as France’s very own Grand canyon.
At the top of the canyon there is a nice café the inviting roads led to a great drive to and from the canyon along with the breath taking views and were a real high point of the trip. After the canyon we rejoined the route Napoleon with the best part of the route for people who really want to make the most of the power of their car.
This was a real driver’s road with a col between 2 lakes, followed by another great descent into the lake on which the château is located; this particular descent into the lakeside town of Crots is breathtaking.
The Chateau is a really unique experience, it is a 14th century castle inside and out, the welcome was very professional, with a reservation in a good restaurant already made for us when we arrived. The setting is fantastic as are the views from the grounds.
The last day continues in the style of the first, with the beautiful mountain passes through the alps, with more breathtaking views. We stopped off at the small alpine village of Mensac, with a market selling local products that were of fantastic quality.
The break is fantastic due to the variation between the Alpine passes on the first and last days, and the more fluid roads through the Alps Maritimes. All in all a great experience that we can’t wait to introduce in 2011.