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Top five best drives in the Alps

Posted by Jim Whyte on November 19th, 2008

Now that you’ve had my top tips on How to… drive in the Alps, you’re ready to test your newfound skills in some real-life situations. So here are five fantastic Alpine driving routes I try to take whenever I’m in the mountains – strictly for Smith Ski research purposes, you understand:

Col de Montents, Chamonix Valley, France

Geneva – Chamonix – Martigny
Distance: 80 miles
Time: Two hours
Highlights: You get your first view of Mont Blanc near Sallanches, but the most spectacular view is from the small lake at the Col de Montents at the top of the Chamonix Valley (pictured right). On the Swiss side of the pass, there’s a great view down to the Rhône Valley. You can also do this journey in reverse, starting in Verbier.
Destination: Martigny’s Fondation Pierre Gianadda has sculptures by Auguste Rodin and Henry Moore, and stages regular concerts and exhibitions.
Stay at: cosy and charming Petite Fôret in Verbier

Chamonix – Mont Blanc Tunnel – Aosta
Distance: 40 miles
Time: One hour
Highlights: At seven miles in length, the Mont Blanc Tunnel is an engineering marvel and one of the longest road tunnels in the world. The entrance is just outside Chamonix and links France with Italy. Whatever you do, don’t run out of petrol in the tunnel.
Destination: Aosta has some fine Roman ruins and is perfect for ice-cream in the town square. There’s also hot springs at Pré-Saint-Didier.
Stay at:
snug and central Apartment Angelina in Chamonix

Mountain view, Chamonix Valley, FranceChamonix – Les Gets – Evian-les-Bains
Distance: 67 miles
Time: Two hours
Highlights: There’s spectacular Alpine scenery around the resorts of Les Gets and Morzine in the Portes du Soleil region. If you start from luxury ski chalet Ferme du Moudon in Les Gets, the journey to Evian and its mineral-rich springs will only take about 45 minutes.
Destination: Evian (of bottled water fame) is a lovely spa town on the shores of Lake Geneva. There are some very relaxing thermal baths here.
Stay at: French fancy Chalet Zenith in Chamonix

Les Gets – Megève – Ugine
Distance: 50 miles
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Highlights: The chic resort of Megève deserves honorary status as an arrondissement of Paris. This is a great place for a lunch break. The best thrills are in the spell-binding Gorges d‘Arly to the south, where black cliffs tower above the road – but you’ll need to keep a keen eye out for rock falls.
Destination: Ugine is nothing special, but it’s easy to reach Courchevel, Méribel and Val d’Isère from here so this makes a particularly scenic (if long-winded) route from Geneva airport.
Stay at: chic rustic chalet Ferme de Moudon in Les Gets

Chalet de la Cloche, Tignes les Brevieres, France

Tignes les Brévières – Col de I’Iseran – Susa
Distance: 55 miles
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Highlights: From Chalet de la Cloche, you climb up through Val d’Isère to the Col de I’Iseran at 2,769 metres. This is strictly a summer driving route (unless you have a snow plough or some huskies). As you descend down the south side, you’re surrounded by some of the best scenery in the Vanoise National Park. From Lenslebourg, you can drop down to Susa in Italy via the 2,083-metre Col du Mont Cenis.
Destination: The most notable thing about Susa is that it’s twinned with Barnstaple. However, Turin is only another 40 minutes further on. Here you’ll find the National Automobile Museum which traces the history of the automobile – inexplicably starting in the 15th century.
Stay at: glam ski getaway Chalet de la Cloche in Tignes les Brévières

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2 Responses to “Top five best drives in the Alps”

  1. Gorgeous pictures Jim!

    By Lucy

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