THE GREAT ALPINE ROAD

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Bright lights above me, background noise unfamiliar to my ears, and some one holding my hand, as my senses came on line, my first thoughts were Where the Hell am I.

As I became more aware and the haze cleared from my eyes I saw Tina standing next to me, along with my daughter Claire they both looked upset, concerned,

I was laid out in the A&E dept of Airedale Hospital, it was 3.30am and I had been there for almost 3 hours now, drifting in and out of consciousness. Apparently I had collapsed at home, been rushed to hospital in an ambulance and was now being monitored,

Our eldest Grandson Connor was sat on the bed, at only 12 months old he was taking the event in his stride, he sat there waving his finger in a telling off way to the nursing staff as and when they came to check on me. Protecting his Grandad.

I was very well looked after, no doubt due in no small part to our grandson Connor who had charmed all the nursing staff, they just couldn’t resist coming into the cubicle to see him and check on me.

48 hours later and I am back at home still trying to work out, and come to terms with just what had happened to me,

I had seen the doctors, been prodded, tested, and scanned, but they were still trying to work out just what had happened. I still felt tired, drained, and not quite with it.

It was 4 weeks before we were due to set off on our trip to the Carpathian Mountains Everything was ready, planned and sorted and now this,

The Doctors had not stopped me driving, but had advised caution, and after Tina heard this, our trip was over,

To be fair it was the sensible option, Medical back-up in Romania wasn’t going to be like ours, and I had visions of being taken to the local Hospital on a Horse and Cart.

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Carpathian Mountains a non-starter this year

 

OK, so Carpathian is a non-starter, but we still need to get away, and I wasn’t going to Scotland and spending two weeks in the rain, so where in Europe would you be happy going I asked Tina.

For the first time ever, we sat down and talked about a holiday abroad taking a countries medical backup and Tina’s limited Driving experience in Europe into account.

Originally our eldest grand daughter Annabelle had been going with us on our trip, at 8 years old going on 18, she is as bright as a button, excelling at school and accompanying us was her reward.

Does she still go with us, YES! If nothing else she would be an extra pair of hands, plus she can already operate the sat-nav, and read a map and isn’t frightened of talking to people.

I WILL look after you with Nanny, Granddad, but where are we going, was the question she asked after explaining to her about my health and the holiday.

We are going to France, up in the Mountains………

I had a route in mind, which I had been working on for one of our future Goldwing Tours from a few years ago, Tina agreed it would be nice and she was ok driving along it if need be.

we could Wild camp, or find a campsite along the way so no further booking was required, other than what was already booked (the ferry)  we would wind our way down through the french Alpes ending up on the South of France Coast near Italy and chill out on a beach,

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The Route Des Grande Alpes – The Great Alpine Road

 

The Routes History.

The construction of the route started in 1909 in order of the French Touring Club. In that period, the Alps still were an isolated region of France with poor access possibilities. The construction of the route was not only an opening to the outside world for the mountain people, but also an opportunity for the upcoming tourism to discover this area with great cultural and natural heritage. The construction was finished in 1937, with the opening of the col de l’Iseran. The official road number is D902.

With the opening of the French motorways, the route has lost most of its importance as a traffic connection from north to south, making the Route des Grandes Alpes a spectacular road trip route. To make things even more attractive, some adjustments were made in 1995 to replace the traffic heavy valley of Chamonix with the Col de la Colombière and the Col de Aravis. The route ends no more in Nice, but in the smaller and authentic village of Menton.

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Click on the map to enlarge

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Annabelle finds a great place to sit and watch the world go by 

Friday 25th of July, and we are sat at the Dover Ferry Terminal waiting to board, its 2.30 in the afternoon and we are finally on our way.

It had been an uneventful early morning run down from Yorkshire, blue skies had smiled on us all the way, a steady cruising speed of 70/75 mph on the Motorways all the way I was made up with the Defender.

I recalled our past trips down to Dover, heading out to Europe for two weeks of fun and adventure with a large group of Goldwing riders, many of them were first-timers to touring in Europe under the guidance of my good friend Dave and I, or T1 & T2 to our yearly Holiday companions, how quiet and Peaceful it seamed today waiting for the ferry on our own compared to those times.

We were soon on board and heading out into the Channel, our destination Dunkirk.

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Annabelle was excited and we were dragged onto the upper deck to watch our departure

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Little did she know then that she would sleep most of the way to our first nights stop in France?

By the time we were on French soil, it was 4.30 in the afternoon; Annabelle was asleep in the back, it was a long days travelling for a youngster, we had decided to use the Route nationale or N roads on this trip, many of them are dual-carriageways, and run parallel to the Toll roads. You see a lot more of France on these roads, plus many of the Camping areas are located very near to them.

90 miles later we saw the familiar sign for a French campsite and pulled off the N45 into “Camping du lac Vauban” on the outskirts of Le Quesnoy.

The Campsite location was ideal for a walk into the Moat surrounded walled town the next morning.And like all french campsites was very well equiped and tidy.

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But tonight we just set up camp and organised our evening meal, I say we, but our little helper had already made friends with a dozen or so French kids and they were happily off exploring together even though non spoke English and Annabelle spoke no French apart from “bonjour”

Next morning we were up and packed away by 9am, an hour or so was spent exploring the old town, and a mental note made to come back and stay longer.

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Entrance to the old town

 

We were heading for Annecy for tonight’s stop around 450 miles further south east. We had been told of a wild camping spot in the hills above Lac Annecy and that’s what we were heading…

Another steady days driving with plenty of stops saw us in Annecy By 6pm that evening, but it took another 2 hours to find the parking area high in the mountains. Has we set up for the night, Annabelle took this photo.

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     That’s our view from the roof tent tonight.

Next morning (Sunday 27th) we were awoke by noises of something moving about quite close below us, and there was a few of them by the noise they were making, Has the only Bloke on this trip, it was me who had to open the tent and get out…Dawn was just breaking.

We hadn’t noticed last night, but we were camped next to a deer park. and they were up and ready to greet us, So you can guess who shared her Breakfast with them.

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Yep, that close….

Washed, fed, and packed away we headed down into Annecy to show AJ, around,

both Tina and I have visited this “Venice of the North” many times, but for AJ, (Annabelle Jayne) it was a whole new world.

These are some of her photos…

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Plus these, its amazing what children find to photograph.

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We had a lovely time wandering around the Sunday Market and the busy streets, not forgetting a walk along the lakeside. But today was also the day we had planned to join the Route des Grand Alpes by mid-afternoon we were only just leaving Annecy and heading for the Col de la Colombière via Cluses on the D1205.

The weather was great, we were relaxed, and I had done all the driving so far, I was starting to  feel a little tired, a decision was made by Tina to camp at a site tonight,

We had just drove the Col de la Colombière our first Col, (A Col is a Mountain Pass in France) on the grand alpen Route and ahead was Saint-Jean de sixt, a lovely little village in the valley between the Col de la Colombière and the col des Aravis, and it had a campsite.

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Camping du Cret was our home for the night, a small family run site, which was spotless throughout, and a fridge full of cold beer in reception, help yourself the lady announced as we booked in, and she offered Tina a bottle of wine to go with her meal, all this for only 13.40 euros which included the nights stay.

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Tonights view

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Meat & three veg, and free beer, lifes good.

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 Drinking with Nanny, only fruit juice for AJ

to be continued soon…..