TO THE ALPS
13.06.2013 - 14.06.2013
Yes, that is me peering inside a Renault 5 Turbo before the start from Megeve's Place de L'Eglise. There aren't really many cars kitted out like this flying machine and, of course, Bianca. Most of the 219 just look like regular cars inside, which surprised me. But I now realise there is rallying and then there is....RALLYING. Dear Reader, I am also aware that there is another level altogether when cars hurtle through forests with the navigator shouting into a microphone connected to his driver's headphones, but I have no desire (yet) to give that a go.
So today we left Megeve (and its closed shops) for Alpe d'Huez, passing through pretty village after pretty village. Mist hung in the valleys...
Milk churns stood at the side of the road waiting to be collected (reminding me of my childhood) and cows ignored us as we 'chased' a Porsche and 1985 Audi Quattro Sport down one mountain and up another to the 1650m Col des Saisies.
As 3 out of 4 mountain passes were shut due to snow we had route changes to get us to lunch at Courchevel's Altiport where the runway is absolutely bloody terrifying; if you dont time your lift-off right you could be joining someone's apres-ski party in the alley below. Oh joy; a shiny Pilatus Jet sat waiting on the tarmac courtesy of one of our sponsors, Jetfly.
So nice of them to send it for me don't you think? What, not for me? You mean I have to go the wheels-on-the-ground way to Alpe d'Huez?
After lunching on local cheeses...
and a surfeit of people watching...OUR RALLY PEOPLE EN MASSE; there's a blonde with butt-skimming shorts, pink sequinned cap and a boyfriend in white rimmed sunglasses (sorry, but that's just NOT ok), chaps with bellies that make me wonder how on earth they squeeze themselves in and out of their cars and young stubbled men topping up their tans. And it was HOT!
Here comes our pal Fred with 19 year old son, Vincent, who is all smiles as Dad had navigated them 40 minutes the wrong way down (or was it up) the motorway in their 2.7 RS Porsche. The lad is on a driving learning curve of vertiginous proportions and clearly relishing every second. Mind you he isn't the youngest participant. That honour goes to a five year old 'navigating' for her Dad in yet another 911.
So off we all headed for Col du Glandon up at 1924m. It seems Ben now has the hang of these hairpins and Bianca veritably 'squeals' in what I think is delight as we overtake a Porsche 911. By now there are cyclists galore...
with calf muscles the size of watermelons...and that's the women! Fat lambs don't cease their munching and wild flowers lap up their long overdue release from a blanket of snow.
This is goat cheese country too and there's even a museum dedicated to 'The Goat' in Le Rivier Allemond!
Alpe d'Huez is not a place of beauty. How the French get planning permission to build such utterly hideous monstrosities in areas of such outstanding beauty is beyond me. This was the view from out hotel...
See what I mean!