When we started talking about a 007 route for 2011, it got us thinking long and hard about how to combine some of the most iconic Bond settings in Europe, whilst at the same time ensuring that the driving experience is second to none and takes in some of the greatest driving roads in Europe.
So, after some pretty extensive research into locations across Europe, we came up with a “must do” checklist, which included:
• A visit to at least one stunning French Chateaux, if this happens to be the home of one of Bonds famous villains, then all the better
• A couple of stops to sample Bonds favourite tipples, Bollinger in Champagne region of France, and Martini in the home of Bianco, Turino, Italy
• Re-capturing two of Bonds most iconic car chases in his DB5, firstly in the heart of the Swiss Alps and then on the Alps Maritimes, running down to Monte Carlo
• Whilst in the Alps, making a visit to the most famous ice station of the lot, the Piz Gloria, 3000M up and base for Bond’s nemesis Blofeld in Her Majesties Secret service
• A quick adrenaline rush so where better than a visit to 750ft + Verzasca dam near Locarno, location for the Bond bungee jump opening sequence in Goldeneye
• Some relaxation and recuperation on the lakes of Italy, if it’s good enough for Daniel Craig in the Quantum of Solace, it’s good enough for us
• And finally, and any Bond tour would not be complete without this, a visit to the most famous of casinos of them all, Casino de Monte-Carlo.
With the location check list in place, we got about planning the route. However, to spice things up a little, we felt a “mission” on each stage would be the order of the day. So, Aston Martin to the ready, Walther PPK safely holstered, it’s time to start your engine, and begin your mission.
Stage 1: The Champagne Region
“Now pay attention 007, you need to head directly to Château de Chantilly to receive full instructions, you are then to make your way directly to the Champagne region to purchase a bottle of Bollinger Grande Année 2002….this is Bollinger’s latest vintage just released and we really want to understand what all the fuss is about…is everything clear then?”
Start Point: Château de Chantilly, Chantilly north of Paris
End Point: Ay, near Epernay, Bollinger Champagne House
Distance: 220KM / 5 hours
Driving Highlights: Route Champagne
The Château de Chantilly is the perfect location to start this tour, just 50KM north of Paris it’s one of the most stunning Château’s in France.
The Château overlooks the Chantilly Racecourse and the The Great Stables, which contain the Living Museum of the Horse. These 186m long stables are considered by some as the most beautiful in the world.
Both the Château and the Great Stables were featured in the Bond movie A View to a Kill (1985), as the estate of evil Max Zorin (played by Christopher Walken).
After taking time to explore this wonderful setting, you will on your way. A quick consultation of your map (or the www if you happen to have 3G or wireless) will tell you that the Bollinger Champagne house is located in the town of Ay, which is around 90 minutes from Chantilly, so let’s be on our way to locate the elusive champagne.
To arrive in the Champagne region head due east to Villers Cotterets, then south East towards Epernay. Epernay is one of the main centres of the Champagne region, well worth a visit. In particular, take a wander along Avenue de Champagne, which contains a who’s who of champagne houses, including the most famous of the lot, Moet and Chandon. Moet and Chandon also offer a fantastic guided tour of their cellars which provides a real insight into how champagne is produced.
Exit Epernay and complete your run to Ay, which is less than 10 minutes away, heading directly to the Bollinger Champagne house at 20 boulevard Maréchal de Lattre De Tassigny.
With the aforementioned bottle of bubbly procured, that’s mission completed. It’s now it’s time to relax a little, and tackle the 70KM drive along the beautiful “Route Champagne”.
The drive takes you through some of the most beautiful vineyards in this region, with passing several various champagne houses and Châteaus, then directly through the heart of the national park of Montagne de Reims. You complete your journey at the town of Reims, where we recommend you stay the evening, before stage two of the tour to the Swiss Alps. For full details of the Champagne route visit www.ville-reims.fr
With stage 2 taking you directly to the Swiss Alps, remember to subscribe with us (top) to receive an e-mail update for your next mission.