Day 67 – Friday 12-09-08
We were hoping the day was going to start bright, dry & sunny. From 3am we had nothing but heavy rain & low level cloud. Looking out of our motorhome drinking my 1st cuppa of the day our trip up to the Aiguille du Midi was looking bleak. I thought I would catch up on some typing & a few other things & by 11am the weather had shown no signs of improvement. So we decided to head into Chamonix to have another look around. From the car park we walked towards Chamonix stopping off at the Telepherique to view the webcam. The Aiguille du Midi was dry, bright & sunny & the Helbronner Pass was open. We rushed back to the motorhome got all the necessary clothing & supplies & at 11.30am we were purchasing our return tickets at the cost of €76.00 for the 2 of us, by 11.50 we were on our way. I was itching to get up to this 3842m peak. Hang on, did I say I was itching to get up there, I think I’m going mad, I don’t like heights. After a change of cable cars at the 2317m stage in 20 minutes we were there at the 3777m section. After exiting the cable car you walk across a foot bridge to the most amazing scenery that awaits you.
As the Helbronner pass was open our 1st stop was to purchase our tickets & head for Italy. The return tickets were €34.00 for the 2 of us. We got into the panoramic cable car for our 30 minute journey across the 5km Helbronner pass & it was amazing. The cable car stops 5 times on route allowing you to take photos & take a good look at the amazing scenery around you. When we arrived in Italy it was time for one of those gorgeous Italian coffees & a hot Panini filled with Italian ham. After our pit stop we went up to the terrace & cloud was everywhere, you couldn’t see a thing. Then all of a sudden the cloud disappears & there was Italy below us & mountain peaks which had been previously disguised appearing all around us. We absolutely loved the journey across in the panoramic cable car & the Italian side was great. If we had only gone to the telepherique office earlier then maybe would have had time to go down the Italian side in their cable cars. Well after having a good look around the Helbronner peak it was time for our journey back to the Aiguille du Midi in France. The journey back was just as amazing as the outward journey & this is one trip we feel you just have to make, it’s absolutely brilliant.
Back at the Aiguille du Midi we went onto the terraces to watch walkers & climbers arriving & departing from their sections. We then paid the €6.00 for the 2 of us to take the lift up to the highest viewing terrace of Aiguille du Midi which stands at 3842m. It’s just amazing, the scenery that surrounds you is just breathtaking & it’s forever changing. One minute you can see for miles, then it clouds over, then there’s a mountain which you never saw before appearing out of the sky, then everything once again changes & you see things you never noticed before.
Watching the walkers across the glaciers was fantastic & we really would love to do this. Mont Blanc looked great & we could see 2 vehicles south of the summit going along one of the trails.
I probably could go on & on about this most amazing, most fantastic trip, but I won’t.
All we can say is if you’re in the Chamonix region then you just have to visit the Aiguille du Midi.
Safely back on the ground & having a well deserved cuppa all we could do was sit there & reflect on the day’s events. After a while we came back into the here & now & decided to go into Chamonix & have something to eat. The night was chilly & as we looked up into the sky that night before returning to our motorhome we both were amazed & what we had achieved today.
Day 68 – Saturday 13-09-08
After a peaceful night’s kip, polly was busy whistling away & my 1st cuppa was on its way.
The day started just as yesterday, dark, dull & a sky full of rain. But we somehow knew that high above us the sun was shining & the people who were planning a trip up to the Aiguille du Midi were in for an amazing adventure. We decided to pay our parking fee which was €20 & head for Switzerland. We left Chamonix mid morning & took the road to Vallorcine. At the Swiss border we paid €30 for our viginette & after a quick passport check we were now in Switzerland.
We drove to Sion & then onto Brig where we decided to take the Simplon Pass. The day was a mixture of cloud & a few showers but once again the scenery was just fantastic.
Driving across the Simplon Pass was a mixture of twisting roads with hairpin bends & a few tunnels. When we arrived at the Italian border they just waved us on & shouted goodbye.
Were now in Italy, just think this morning we left Mont Blanc & now by late afternoon we were now in Italy heading for Verbania. As we have the Guida Camper book finding a place to stay near Lake Maggiore was pretty straight forward. The place we stopped at was listed as VB 04 on page 268. Although there are no sat nav co-ordinates listed it was quite straight forward to find. There was a free service point here & parking for around 30 motorhomes. Our 1st night in Italy was peaceful & the weather still hadn’t shown any signs of improvement.
Day 69 – Sunday 14-09-08
After a peaceful nights kip & listening to polly whistling away I was getting ready for my 1st cuppa of the day. We went for a walk around Verbania & even though the weather was still damp we enjoyed our walk & all of a sudden we have had a brainstorm.
We have enjoyed the Dordogne & Alps region of France the most since leaving the UK. The thought of having to go back to the UK in March for our MOT & tax meant we could miss some of the most amazing scenery in the Alps when the thaw takes place & the rivers rage. So what do we do? We’re into day 69 of our trip & we’ve had a very strange brainstorm. So after sitting down, deliberating & of course having a cuppa we’ve made our minds up.
Even though we have a 3.5t motorhome some of the places we really wanted to get to, some of the activities we wish to pursue we couldn’t because of the size of the van & as we don’t want to buy cycles or a motor bike there’s only one thing to do. Get back to the UK, sell the motorhome, buy a smaller one & hopefully by the end of October we’re be heading for sunnier climes in the south of Europe & then go into Romania, Czechoslovakia, Slovenia, Poland etc; then back to the Alps for the thaw & back to the Dordogne for all the places we couldn’t get into.
Are we mad, probably but our minds are made up & we’re on our way back to the UK.
So after another cuppa we left Verbania & drove to Locarno, Luzern and Basel, across the Swiss border into Germany heading for Strasbourg. From Strasbourg we headed for Metz & all we are going to do is follow the motorway to Calais. As a professional HGV Class1 driver long hauls are not a problem to me & as usual I will use my skills & judgement on the miles I will drive in a day.
Just north of Reims I decided it was time for a few hours’ kip before the final leg to Calais.
Day 70 – Monday 15-09-08
After having sufficient rest & my morning cuppa we left Reims heading for Calais. When we got to Calais I phoned Dover Eurochange & we were booked on the 15.15 Sea France crossing from Calais to Dover at the cost of £67.50p. We arrived in Dover late afternoon & are now back in the UK. We stopped off overnight before surprising our families & friends who we were glad to see & we are now putting our plans for our return trip to Europe into action.
Conclusion of our 70 day trip.
Well what can we say? We have had a fantastic time & have gathered some invaluable experience & knowledge of just how good France is for motorhomes. The UK is listed as the most least friendly motorhome destination in Europe & we can now see why.
All the aires France book, good maps & an up to date sat nav are invaluable. Going into tourist offices finding information about the area you are in is invaluable. Carrying sufficient supplies spare parts for your vehicle & regulators for your gas & a back up system is probably invaluable.
Take the best pair of binoculars, camera & video recorder that you can afford plus extra data cards & batteries etc.
Look for where the locals park, watch what they do & just blend in with them, it’s great.
When we all go on our trips we all have different visions of what’s ahead of us & what we would like to achieve on our travels. The Dordogne & the Alps ring all our bells & pushes all our buttons.
We are going back to Europe relishing the Countries & friendliness that awaits us.
Well that's all from us for now, so until we're back on the road we wish you all happy & safe travels.
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