2014 Route des Grandes Alpes

September 2nd 2014

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RH03MOG is looking good and is ready to go. The car was serviced by Morgan last week and I think I have packed everything I am going to need. The Sat-Nav is programmed with the route and the passenger seat has been removed to accommodate my waterproof luggage and camera bag.

The weather is looking promising too so let’s go……

September 3rd 2014

An excellent first day. I zoomed down to Folkestone without a hitch. The car is running lovely. With good weather and the radio playing in my helmet the motorway miles rolled by quickly. Coffee at Oxford services and an unexpectedly easy run round the M25 and I arrive at the channel tunnel on time. The queues were short and after a brief stop at the departure lounge for refreshments I was soon on my way to France. The crossing was smooth though the view was very uninteresting!

Once off the train I took the motorway around Calais but got off soon after to stay on normal roads for the rest of the day. I travelled through Ardres, round St Omer through Aire-Sur-la-Lys then south before Lillers to Divion, Houdain to Arras. This was made rather more complicated by two road closures but I managed to find a way through.

I had booked all of the hotels on-line and found the first on in the centre of Arras without too much difficulty and parked in the adjacent underground car park. The Holiday Inn Express was perfectly adequate for the night and after a meal at the restaurant opposite it was time for bed. The weather has been beautiful this afternoon after a misty start. Let’s hope it stays that way.

A long day is planned for tomorrow, south to Chargey-les-Gray.

September 4th 2014

Today was planned as the biggest travelling day. 296 miles without any motorway. The roads were mostly straight and the weather clear. From Arras I went through Bapaume, Saint Quentin to Laon where I had lunch by the cathedral at the top of the hill. The route then took me round Reims, to Chalons-en-champagne, Vitry-le-Francois and round Saint Dizier. Chaumont came up next then on to Richebourg, Arc-en-Ballen, Longeau-Percey, Champlitte then finally to the hotel in the small village of Chargey-les-Gray.

The hotel provided a lovely simple cold meal of local cheeses sausage, potatoes, salad and bread washed down with a good local beer. We enjoyed this outside as it got dark followed by and a gentle stroll through the village.

Just 150 miles down to the southern shores of lake Geneva tomorrow.

September 5th 2014

Another morning greeted us with beautiful clear skies and sunshine in Chargey-les-Grey. Breakfast was provided at the hotel, mostly home made and local produce. The car fired up first time as always and I woke the village setting off for Amphion-les-Bains.

I went through Gray and round Besancon to the village of Etalans where I paused for coffee. I then drove round Pontarlier and into Switzerland at Ballaigus. My next stop was at the village of Bettens. Then it was onwards to the outskirts of Lausanne and down to the lake at Vevey. I carried on round the lake through Montreux and Chessel before going back into France at Saint Gingolph. Onwards through Evian-les-Bains before turning right to our Hotel La Plage at Amphion-les-Bains.

Some of the route around the lake was slow stop-start on a very warm afternoon. I was glad I had fitted some cooling fans to my 2013 3-wheeler. I wish I had one blowing on me!

The hotel is right on the lake shore. I had a garage reserved so I put the car away and after a stroll to a bar for a beer, ate at the hotel restaurant overlooking the lake as the sun went down.

Alps tomorrow – could be interesting.

September 6th 2014

I set off from Lake Geneva and headed into the mountains. The first major climb was Col de la Colombière at 1613m. Not a bad introduction with a 16km climb. I then descended 12km to Le Grand Bornand. If the roads remain like this then I really am in for a treat.

I carry on past Saint-Jean-du-Sixt where I refuel with some help from a very friendly Porsche driver after I couldn’t understand the unattended pump. Next we are on to Col des Aravis (1486m). Another fabulous climb. The car is performing superbly with other cars unable to keep up on the climbs. I continue on to Flume, towards Ugine before we head through Beoufort and start seriously climbing again. The Cormet de Roselend (1968m) was the best yet with too many hairpin bends to count.

I stopped partly up the 20km climb at a cafe overlooking the lake – what a place for a leisurely cup of tea. I came out to find 11 bikers gathered round the car. Everyone was so positive and loved the car whatever their nationality.

This was my favourite pass of the day. It was getting cold towards the top but the views were amazing. The car was attracting attention again and a 2 minute photo stop ended being about 20 minutes with bikers chatting and taking photos. I got the photo at the top of the col – a place I will definitely remember.

The descent was very interesting. I could only just get round the hairpins and that was taking a very wide turn in from the wrong side of the road and swinging all the way out again, getting a bit close to the edge a couple of times. At least I could use all of the road and I could see no other traffic was coming in the opposite direction.

The TomTom found the hotel easily and I put the car away for the night. An excellent day – exactly what I had been hoping for on this trip.

September 7th 2014

This morning is the big one. The climb to Col de l’Iseran is, at 2770m the highest paved pass in the Alps. The 48km ascent winds through spectacular mountain views. The photos can only go a small way towards describing these awesome mountains. The car climbed this spectacular pass easily. What a privilege to be driving such a machine in such amazing surroundings in absolutely perfect weather.

There is a tiny coffee shop at the top which I had to sample of course before taking plenty of photos and of course having my photo taken numerous times by fascinated bikers and car drivers. This car really does attract attention but always in a very positive way.

The descent was even more beautiful with views down into the valley and many tricky hairpin turns. I was grateful that the weather remained perfect. I’m not sure how much fun this would be in the rain!

Then it was on to Bonnevalsur- Arc and Lanslebourg. We follow the river Arc out of the valley and out to Saint-Michel de Maurienne. From there we are on to the famous Col du Télégraphe at 1585m then on to Col du Galibier at 2645m.

We stop for tea 8km from the top. What a road and what a view. It’s all downhill from there to Briancon where we stay the night. What a fabulous couple of days.

September 8th 2014

Another lovely morning greets day 3 in the Alps. The first climb is Col d’Isoard. This turned out to be my favourite pass of the whole Trip. The climb to 2360m passes through forests which smell amazing and opens out into a rocky lunar landscape. I spent the climb zig-zagging amongst some 30 or so bikers many of whom gave me friendly waves while riding very respectfully as had so many bikers on this trip.

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It turned out that I wasn’t the only Morgan on this climb! I was joined by a French +4 accompanied by a very nice Renault Alpine. The view from the top of the hill you can walk up near the summit of the road gives a great view back down the road and is well worth the effort of the short walk.

The descent is equally spectacular. Steep and winding at first before Proceeding through the gorge following the river Guil. The road clings to the side of the gorge with low walls and overhanging rocks. An amazing contrast to the vast open views of earlier in the day.

I carry on to Guillestre, then further South to Barcelonette over another pass – the Col de Vars (2108m). Valberg is the destination tonight. Unfortunately the weather finally changes and I make the climb up to Valberg in light rain. Thunder can be heard in the distance and there is plenty of lightning around. I’m glad to make the hotel though I stay remarkably dry as I can keep making good progress. Even through the rain the car remains a delight to drive without any issues whatsoever.

September 9th 2014

The forecast for today wasn’t promising but I left the hotel to clearing skies. No more high Alpine passes but the landscape remains a delight and a pleasure to drive through. Beuil then Saint-Sauveur-sur-Tinée pass by then Saint-Martin-Vésubie. Some of the hairpin bends are so tight that they are simply impossible without reversing due to the limited steering lock of the three wheeler even using all of the road. Luckily I can see round far enough to know that there is nothing coming in the other direction.

I carry on to Saint-Martin-Vésubie and continue on down the valley before approaching the final pass of the trip, the Col de Turini at 1607m. This very twisty pass takes us down to Sospel where I stop for a Lasagna lunch in the town. We are very close to the end of the Route des Grandes Alps now.

Menton turns out to be very busy but I manage the last few very hot miles and finally make it to the Mediterranean. This calls for ice cream!

If you ever get the chance to tackle the Route des Grandes Alpes then I urge you to give it a go. It is a brilliant route with amazing roads and stunning scenery. Whatever your vehicle I can’t recommend it highly enough and if you have a Morgan then you simply must do it.

This route is one of the reasons I bought my 3 wheeler and I have not been disappointed in either the route or my fabulous little car.

It is just a short drive to Monaco where I eventually find my Hotel. The car park turns out to be 2 streets away and underground which was very difficult to find but eventually I park the car and breathe a sigh of relief.

I have a rest day tomorrow and it’s my Birthday but I suppose there are worse places to spend a birthday!

September 10th 2014

After exploring Monaco I catch the train to Nice for the day. However, I can’t resist taking the car out late that night to do a couple of laps of the Grand Prix circuit – much to the amusement of the tourists.

September 11th 2014

Back on the road again today. Getting out of Monaco onto the motorway is an experience in itself winding upwards into the hills. As motorways go the route along the coast is pretty good. I head east through numerous tunnels (enjoying the sound of the Morgan) and over many bridges before I head inland into the mist before getting as far as Genoa.

An hour later the mist clears as I make good progress through Italy. Almost every passing car photographs me and many of the lorries give me a friendly toot. The car continues to perform faultlessly and the miles soon stack up.

Maranello is my destination today and I loose count of how many Ferraris I see – but it’s the Morgan that is getting all of the attention. I arrive at the Maranello Village Hotel for the night – they have even painted it to match my car!

A visit to the Ferrari Museum is this mornings plan. It’s only 10 minutes from the hotel and I’m there not long after it opens. I booked my ticket online so it’s straight in after avoiding the girls selling Ferrari rides in the car park.

I really enjoy my visit with some beautiful machines on display including many winning F1 cars. I make my exit to head for Alessandria but I can’t get away from Ferrari that easily. The big expensive red cars are being ignored for my little red car. I am surrounded by admirers of various nationalities – the Chinese seem particularly keen. If you want to make friends then a Morgan is the car to have. Quite comical really outside Ferrari.

I eventually get away and take the scenic route to Alessandria over some surprisingly good roads through the hills. Something confuses my TomTom which keeps trying to turn me in circles but I navigate the old fashioned way and keep heading towards the sun. I make it to the Hotel where I have a garage space reserved and head out to eat. The Hotel recommended a pizza place round the corner and I had the best Pizza I have ever had.

September 14th 2014

I spend the morning around Alessandria which turns out to be a very nice town to browse around. I visit the station to confirm arrangements for the afternoon train as all of my tickets and information are in German. The process is simple enough and I drive onto the train at about 2.00 p.m. The train doesn’t leave until 5.30 so I leave my bag and head back into town. I can’t resist another one of those pizzas for lunch.

I board the train having checked on my car and settle down for the 18-hour overnight journey to Dusseldorf. The cabin is small but comfortable and after eating in the dining car I settle down for the night being rocked to sleep by the movement of the train.

It’s not the best nights sleep I’ve ever had but not too bad. The train soon arrives in Düsseldorf and I get off and follow other drivers and bikers to find the cars. Within the hour I’m back on the road again and heading for Holland.

The German Autobahn gives a rare opportunity to stretch the legs of that S & S motor. It reaches 100mph with ease before I back off – I’m still a long way from home and don’t want to break anything.

I pause at Dordrecht for a nice meal and a look around – I have plenty of time before tonight’s ferry from the Hook to Harwich. I carry on and arrive nice and early along with a few other ‘GBs’ . I board without incident and find my cabin. We leave right on time and I explore the ship before heading for bed early.

September 15th 2014

We are called to unload at 06.30 but oops, I have a problem. I left the fans running on my car. My 2013 car didn’t come with the now standard cooling fitted. I have fitted ‘Love Jugs’ Cooling fans which have worked brilliantly but I have them operating from a switch in the car. With the noise of the ship I failed to notice that I had left them on last night – my battery is flat!

I am pushed to one side along with a Rolls Royce which has ‘failed to proceed’ and soon get started with the aid of a battery booster provided by the very helpful ship staff and I’m on my way.

I reach my home in Sutton Coldfield after my 1950 mile adventure. The trip has been superb as has the car. My only problem now is where to go next. The Route through the Alps was brilliant and will be difficult to beat.

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I may just do it again.

2 thoughts on “2014 Route des Grandes Alpes

  1. Thank you for your story and pics.
    I’m a Moragn owner myself and I did parts of the tour in 2015 in a 4/4, starting form Menton. You are a brave man using a M3W for such adventure. I do not trust my 2013 M3W to survive without faults and problems – and frankly there is not enough legroom for long tours for me to feel comfortable.
    Did you ever have problems with engine temperatures at slow city driving? Seems you did not install the cooling fan.
    Best regards from Austria and enjoy your M3W!

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    1. Thanks for the comments Barry.
      My 3-wheeler has proven to be very reliable. The only problem I have had on 23000 miles was a broken valve spring in Portugal. Morgan sent a new one out overnight.

      As you noticed I do not have the factory cooling but I did fit ‘love jug’ fans behind each cylinder which I bought from the US. These are designed for cooling Harley engines and have proven to be very effective. The Garage 56 stage 1 upgrade also helps the engine to run cooler with the better flowing exhaust.

      I am also lucky to live just an hour from the Morgan factory so as other upgrades have been released I have had them fitted when they have serviced the car.

      Keep on enjoying your Morgan.

      Like

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