Thursday, 8 August 2013

Three countries and four high passes

 Three countries, France, Switzerland and Italy. Four passes, Petit Bernard in the Campervan and Col de Monets, Col de Forclaz, and Col d'Iseran on two wheels. 
We started our road trip heading towards Mont Blanc tunnel but had to change plans when we saw two hour queues. A lovely campsite in Argentiere at the bottom of Aiguille Rouge came up trumps. Two passes were about to be peddled Col de Monets and then downhill  across the Switzerland frontier and up the Col de Forclaz. We realised at the Col we had no Swiss francs for a well deserved drink!

Back on the bike and downhill back to the frontier and upwards to Vallorcine a pretty French village where we have skied before. A welcome baguette and then back up Col de Monets really called Montets, but for obvious reasons Monets!!
Stunning, amazing and inspiring views back towards Mont Blanc and my favourites the 'Dru' and Aiguille de Midi 

Near the top of Col de Montets with Aiguille Rouges just round the corner.

The Aiguille de Midi, I'm just finishing a watercolour that  I started from Argentiere.

On the top of Petit Bernard

Back on the road and heading to Mont Blanc tunnel, this time to sit and queue for two hours to get into Italy. Campervan then got it's taste of Top gear. The Petit Bernard was quite a pass it felt like it was been rebuilt with long jaw dropping drops and hairpins crumbling as we ( well Nigel) drove to the top of the pass. Back into France and the roads improved vastly down the descent all the way to Val d'Isere

A wonderful campsite was found in Val d'Isere and here is the view from the van, we settled in and paints came into action.. A local cow fete was happening in this famous ski town with stalls full of Cheeses, honey, sausages and even baby goats (kids) and bantam hens for sale? I didn't get a new pet, but did enjoy a tasty Chevre Pizza. 

The third Col was the Iseran, one of the 50 greatest Alpine cycle climbs. I bought this book one Christmas for Nigel, never thinking we would be cycling the climbs!! It was supposed to be a coffee table book, be warned ladies!! I'm joking this is the 11th Col we have done now and I cannot believe the scenery and splendour that we have seen on two wheels and the places we have been to.

Val d' Isere in the bottom of the valley, can you see the campsite, don't go to close to the edge!

Now I feel this photo tells the story! I'm gazing at the distant top thinking, how much  further, when a tall Dutch guy passed us by, asking where we were from and saying ' she's an animal! 

All the way up to the very top

All smiles now, Dutch guy comes over and shakes my hand, I don't think he thought I would make it!

It's not just cyclists that take the famous pose, this chap in the checked shirt parked his car, got out to take a photo of his pride and glory.

Long hairpins  make up the highest paved mountain pass in Europe

Donkeys along the way ('Ane' donkey in French)

What a stunning ride Col d' Iseran, one of my favourites.
Our road trip continues part two tomorrow

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