These are some of the mountain passes, all over 1,000 metres and in ascending order, that we drive over on this tour
And passes over 2,000 metres high include the following
NOT INCLUDED ARE THE FOLLOWING:
A 15 day tour starting with an afternoon ferry crossing from Dover to Calais where we travel to nearby Tilques to spend our first night in a charming chateau hotel.The next morning we set off on our grand tour travelling through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland into Italy.Our route takes us over a dozen mountain passes including the most iconic and notorious Stelvio Pass at 2,760 metres, (9,055 ft).
Days 2 and 3 include some motorway and main road sections to make covering the distance a little easier.Once into Switzerland we have two nights on Lake Lucerne before arriving at Lake Orta the first of our Italian lakes where we spend two nights. We then drive around Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano to Lake Como where we spend a further three nights. From Lake Como we then drive to St.Moritz then drive up the eastern slope of the Stelvio Pass to Bormio where we spend two nights in a 5 star hotel. We then drive over three more mountain passes to Desenzano del Garda on Lake Garda, the largest of the Italian Lakes,where we spend the final three nights of the tour.
Our tour starts with a 2.00 pm DFDS ferry crossing from Dover to Dunkirk, see photos below:
Arriving in Dunkirk at 5.00pm French time we then drive 20 miles south to our charming hotel, Chateau Tilques, in Tilques near St.Omer, see photos below:
Tonight we celebrate the start of our tour with drinks in the hotel's bar before dinner in the restaurant.
Day 2 - Wednesday 13th June Tilques -Echternach, Luxembourg, ( 285 miles including 160 on motorways )
After breakfast our morning route takes us on the motorway for two and a half hours south via Lille,Tournai, Mons and Namur towards Liege. After Namur we leave the motorway and drive on country roads into the charming Ardennes countryside south east towards Luxembourg where our lunchstop is Durbuy, a pretty village nestling in a river valley, see photos below:
The district of Durbuy is located in southern Belgium, Wallonia, at the foot of the Ardennes. It is made up of 40 small villages and hamlets and gets its name from one of the most important villages in the area: Durbuy has been recognised as a “town” since the Middle Ages in view of the important legal bodies and commercial activities there. And so it was that the old town of Durbuy became known as ‘the smallest town in the world’, putting this humble corner of the Belgian Ardennes firmly on the map.
After lunch we continue south on minor roads across the border into Luxembourg to Echternach where a warm welcome awaits us from the owners of our four star hotel, less than 200 metres from the German border in the countryside just north of Luxembourg city, see photos below:
There should be time to relax in the pool, see photo below:
Dinner tonight is in the hotel's restaurant, see photo below:
Our morning route initially takes us south on the motorway for an hour skirting around Luxembourg city and continuing south to Metz where we leave the motorway and drive on a fast scenic road south- east to Chateau Salins stopping for a morning coffee.
After coffee we continue south east to Sarebourg and up the first mountain pass on the tour, the Col du Donon, see photos below:
Just over the summit we enjoy lunch at a mountain side restaurant, see photos below :
After lunch we continue on scenic country roads eventually arriving in France's Alsace region where our next hotel is based, see photos below:
The hotel is based in one of France's most beautiful villages, Riquewihr, famous for its wine and its charming olde-worlde buildings and once you have unpacked don't miss the opportunity to visit the pretty village on foot and sample the local Alsace wines in one of the local bars or wine shops, see photos below.
You are free to make your own dinner arrangements tonight with a wide choice of local restaurants to choose from.
Leaving Riquewihr we drive 10 miles south to Eiguisheim, another of France's most beautiful villages, where we stroll around the picturesque streets, (see photos below).
We then drive 20 miles south to visit the world famous Schlumpf Collection/motor museum at Mulhouse, the French National Automobile Museum which houses a fantastic collection of classic cars including the world's largest collection of Bugattis, (see photos below).
Click here to visit the official site: http://www.collection-schlumpf.com
We then cross the river Rhine into Germany and drive through scenic countryside climbing up to the summit of the third mountain of our tour, the Walparkplatz Kreuzweg at 1,079 metres,(see photos below).
Less than a mile over the summit is our lunch stop a traditional German auberge, where we can have lunch on the terrace with stunning views, see photos below:
After lunch we drive through the Black Forest eventually crossing the border into Switzerland at Badsackingen. Here we take the Swiss motorway south-west for 40 miles to Entlebuch where we drive up the first of our Swiss mountain passes, the Glaubenburg pass,1,543 metres.
At the summit we stop for a coffee then start our descent with views of Lake Sarner below, see photos below:
After lunch we drive through the Black Forest eventually crossing the border at Bad Sackingen into Switzerland.
We then take the Swiss motorway south to Lake Lucerne where our hotel for the next two nights is based, see photos below.
Dinner tonight is the hotel's restaurant overlooking Lake Lucerne see photo below:
Our first full day in Switzerland and we drive over 4 mountain passes totalling over 8,859 metres in combined heights, ( 28,142 ft) with three major passes each over 2,100 metres.Our circular route is over the Uri Alps traversing several spectacular mountain passes and high Alpine scenery.We head south down past Lake Sarner and over the Bruinig pass (1,002 metres) where we stop to take photos of Lake Lungern, see photos below:
We then drive to Meiringen our morning coffee stop before driving up the stunning Susten Pass, (2,224 metres), see photos below:
Descending the Susten pass we then drive south through a picturesque valley to Lake Lucerne, where our lunch stop has stunning views over the lake, see photos below:
After lunch we drive south to Andermatt and then drive up the Furka pass (2,436 metres), see photos below:
Our afternoon coffee stop is Gletch which nestles between the Furka and Grimsel passes.
After coffee we drive over the Grimsel Pass (2165m), see photos below:
Arriving back in Meiringen we drive back over the Brunig Pass and return to our hotel overlooking Lake Lucerne for a welcome drink to celebrate our first full day in Switzerland.
Dinner tonight is the hotel's restaurant.
Leaving Lake Lucerne we head south along the west bank of Lake Sarner and then our route takes us across the Bruinig mountain pass, see photos below:
Descending the Brunig pass we turn left to Meiringen and drive over the Grimsel pass to Gletch, (click here to see a video of a Ford GT driving up the Grimsel Pass )
At Gletch we turn right and drive down a scenic valley to Brig and then up the Simplon Pass where we enjoy lunch on the summit, (see photos of cars below).
We then descend the Simplon Pass southern slope over the Italian border and continue to Domodossola and take the motorway south east towards Lake Maggiore.At Gravellona we turn south to Omegna at the northern tip of Lake Orta, the first of our Italian lakes.We then drive down the eastern shore of this pretty, yet little known, lake to Orta San Giulio where our stylish hotel a converted monastery is based on the lake in the centre of this beautiful medieval town, see photos below :
Our hotel, the San Rocco, is a converted 17th century monastery and is in the centre of the village just two minutes' walk from the main square, see photos below:
Orta St Giulio is absolutely captivating with its cobbled streets and historic buildings with frescoes with a charming square on the lakeside, see photos below:
Dinner tonight is in the hotel's restaurant.
Day 7 - Monday, June 18th, Orta San Giulio local excursion
Today we explore, on foot, the medieval town of Orta San Giulio.
Lunch is in the square overlooking the Isola San Giulio, a mysterious island where an order of nuns, sworn to silence, still live in a medieval convent.
This morning there is an opportunity to visit the island via a ten minute boat ride, (see photos below).
On the island is a beautiful ornate church, see photos below:
Tonight you are free to make your own dinner arrangements with a wide choice of restaurants in the town.
We leave the captivating Lake Orta then drive 20 miles east to Lake Maggiore where our morning coffee stop is the stylish Stresa overlooking the Borromeean islands where we can stroll along the promenade and admire the grand hotels which look out towards the Borromean islands, see photos below:
We then continue north up the western lake shore road to Cannobio our charming lunch stop, see photos below:
After lunch we continue around Lake Maggiore crossing into nearby Switzerland through Brissago and Ascona to Locarno at the top of Lake Maggiore.Continuing around the lake we head down the eastern shore back into Italy to Luino on the north eastern shoreline.From here we leave Lake Maggiore and drive east to Ponte Tresa where we drive around the southern shore of Lake Lugano on a charming, picturesque, minor road to Morcote.We then drive through Lugano town up the western shore of Lake Lugano leaving Switzerland.At the top of Lake Lugano at Porlezza we leave the lake and drive east over the mountain pass by Lake Piano to Lake Como and Menaggio, on the west lake shore, where our hotel is located see photos below.
A warm welcome awaits us at our hotel in Menaggio, the Grand Hotel Victoria set in its own grounds and overlooking the lake, see photos below:
Our hotel is a five minute walk along the scenic promenade in Menaggio, see photos below:
Dinner tonight is in the hotel's restaurant overlooking Lake Como.
After a leisurely breakfast we walk into Menaggio for morning coffee, see photos below:
After coffee we enjoy a boat trip to Bellagio our afternoon lunch stop which has been described as "the jewel in Lake Como's crown."
Bellagio, here we can enjoy lunch and a walk around this charming town.
We then return by pedestrian ferry to Menaggio where dinner, tonight, is in the hotel's restaurant.
In the morning we drive 5 miles down the lake and visit nearby Villa Carlotta and its gardens. We then continue down the lake via Laglio where George Clooney's Villa Oleandria is situated.Lunch is in nearby Cernobbio.
After lunch we drive through Como town and up the scenic peninsula to Bellagio where we take the car ferry to Varenna.
We then drive north up the eastern shore of Lake Como to Colico our afternoon coffee stop.
After coffee we continue up the lake and around the top of the lake then down the western shore to Menaggio and our hotel.
We leave our hotel and drive north along the western lake shore to the north of the lake where we leave Lake Como and head north to Chiavenna. Here we turn north east across the Swiss border and through the scenic Bregaglia valley and then over the Maloja Pass,1,815metres,( see photo below left), then descending we drive alongside Lake Silvaplaner, (see photo below right).
We then continue to our lunch stop, a hotel in St Moritz overlooking the lake, (see photos below).
After lunch we drive north east to Zernez and turn right over the Ofen Pass/Pass dal Fuorn, (2,149 metres) to Santa Maria then over the border into Italy to Glorenza.Here we turn right to Prato a Stelvio where we then head up towards the foot of the eastern slope of the Stelvio Pass.Driving through Gomagoi, we stop at Trafoi for a coffee at a hotel with stunning views, ( see photos below).
From here we start to drive up the Stelvio Pass eastern slope with 48 hairpin bends all numbered individually from Trafoi, see photo below:
After 48 hairpin bends we eventually arrive at the summit, 2,760 metres which is effectively a village. Here we stop to absorb the view down the eastern slope,(see photos below).
From the summit to the bottom of the western slope is approximately 10 miles and then it is 5 minutes to our 5 * hotel, the Grand Hotel Bagni Nuovo at Bagni di Bormio at the foot of the Stelvio, just next to Bormio.This is a wonderful, atmospheric hotel and is a spa resort so there will be an opportunity to relax in this magnificent setting surrounded by mountains, (see photos below).
Dinner, tonight is in the hotel's spendid dining room.
The original road was built in 1820-1825 by the Austrian Empire to connect the former Austrian province of Lombardia with the rest of Austria, covering a climb of 1871 m. The engineer and project manager was Carlo Donegani (1775 - 1845, Brescia). Since then, the route has changed very little. The 60 hairpin bends, 48 of them on the northern side numbered with stones, are a challenge to motorists. Even Stirling Moss went off the road here during a vintage car event in the 1990s, with an onboard video of his incident being shown on satellite TV.
Before the end of World War I, it formed the border between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Italian Kingdom. Even the Swiss had had an outpost and a hotel (which was destroyed) on the Dreisprachenspitze. During World War I, fierce battles were fought in the ice and snow of the area, with gun fire even crossing the Swiss area at times. The three nations made an agreement not to fire over Swiss territory, which jutted out in between Austria (to the south) and Italy (to the north). Instead they could fire down the pass, as Swiss territory was up and around the peak. After 1919, with the expansion of Italy, the pass lost its strategic importance.
The Stelvio Pass does retain an importance for sport when it is open from June to September. Countless cyclists and motorcyclists struggle to get to the highest stretch of road in the Eastern Alps. The Giro d'Italia cycling tournament often crosses the Stelvio Pass.
In a 2007 episode of the BBC television programme Top Gear, presenter Jeremy Clarkson named it the best driver's road in the world, after driving it in a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera with colleagues James May, in an Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24 track car, and Richard Hammond, in a Porsche GT3 RS.
In 2008 Moto Guzzi started selling a Stelvio model, named after the pass.
For more information please click this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stelvio_Pass
For the real Stelvio Pass afficianados there is an option to drive up the western slope of the Stelvio early morning before the bikers, cyclists and other traffic arrives. We leave our hotel and drive back up to the summit of the Stelvio Pass, but this time up the faster and more scenic western slope, as used by Jeremy Clarkson and his Top Gear muskateers on their Europe's greatest driving road programme.
We stop half way up to take photos of this impressive road, see photos below:
We then continue driving up to the summit, from the bottom to the summit is approximately 10 miles.
We then stop on the summit and then drive two miles back down the western slope of the Stelvio and then turn off to the summit of the Umbrail Pass,( 2,502 metres, 8,212 ft ) to take a photo. We then drive over the Swiss border and down the Umbrail Pass to Santa Maria, see photos below:
From here we head back west and then take the toll tunnel to Livigno a tax free ski resort. From here we drive south east over the Foscagno pass back to our hotel where, in the afternoon,we can enjoy the hotel's extensive spa facilities.
Dinner, tonight is in the hotel's restaurant.
Day 13 - Sunday June 24th, Bagni di Bormio to Desenzano del Garda, Lake Garda, Italy
From here we drive south west over the Bernina pass, 2,328 metres then down to Tirano.Here we drive up the Aprica pass, 1181 metres high to Aprica our lunch stop. We then continue to Edolo where we turn south to Lake Iseo and drive down the scenic west shore of the lake passing the Riva boat factory, see photos below:
Lake Iseo is also the home of Riva boats, see photos below
We then drive to nearby Brescia where we visit the Mille Miglia museum, our afternoon coffee stop in the former Sant' Eufemia monastery in Brescia, see photos below:
Click here to visit the official museum website: http://www.museomillemiglia.it/en/where-we-are.aspx
It is then only half an hour to our hotel, for the next two nights, in Desenzano on Lake Garda, at the bottom left hand corner of the lake.
Our stylish hotel, the 4 * Villa Rosa, is a 5 minute walk from the town centre and overlooks Lake Garda, see photos below:
Dinner, tonight is in the hotel's retaurant.
Day 14 Monday, June 25th, a day relaxing and exploring Desenzano and Lake Garda with a boat ride to Sirmione ( no driving today )
Desenzano town centre with its restaurants, bars and cafes is a 10 minute walk along the lake, see photos below:
After coffee we take a boat ride to nearby Sirmione, our lunch stop, described as "the jewel in the crown" of Lake Garda. Sirmione is a charming and atmospheric, medieval town on a peninsula at the south of the lake less than 10 miles east from Desenzano. The town can only be accessed on foot by crossing the moat of a 16th-century castle at the town's entrance, see photos below:
Return to Desenzano del Garda by ferry in the afternoon.
Dinner tonight, you are free to make your own arrangements
Day 15 Tuesday 26th June An anti-clockwise tour of Lake Garda
Our morning coffee stop is the fascinating Il Vittorial villa and gardens. Then we drive a few miles up the lake to our lunch stop, the Lido Restaurant, in Gargnano overlooking the lake.
After lunch we continue around the lake stopping for afternoon coffee is Malcesine.
We then return to our hotel in Desenzano for the final dinner of the tour.
Wednesday 27th June Tour Ends Participants leave us this morning and make their own way home
Just a little extra information for those with a head for heights! The official height definition of a mountain in the UK is 600 metres and Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell, the three highest mountains in Scotland, Wales and England respectively are just over 3,000ft or 935 metres high at their summits which you certaily can't drive over ! On.our Alps tour our route takes us over 33 mountain passes,( this includes occasions when we drive both ways over the same mountain pass) with a combined height of 64,341 metres, (206,442 ft).Seventeen of these mountain passes are higher than 2,000 metres,(6,576 ft) twelve between 1,000-2,000 metres, and two greater than 600 metres ! By way of another reference Mount Everest is only 8,850 metres, ( 29,035 ft) high !
Col du Donon 1,009 m
Col de Ste Marie 772 m
Total 1,781 metres
Waldparkplaz Kreuzweg 1,079 m
Glaubernberg Pass 1,543 m
Total 2,622 metres
Brunig Pass 1,002 m
Susten Pass 2,259 m
Furka Pass 2,431 m
Grimsel Pass 2,165 m
Total 7,857 metres
Brunig Pass 1,002 m
Grimsel Pass 2,165 m
Simplon Pass 2,005 metres
Total 5,172 metres
Ofen Pass/Pass dal Fuorn, 2,149 metres
Stelvio Pass 2,760 m
Total 6,720 metres
Stelvio Pass 2,760 metres
Umbrail Pass 2,502 metres
Foscagno pass, 2,291 metres
Bernina pass, 2,328 metres
Aprica pass, 1,181 metres
Total 11,062 metres
"great roads, wonderful scenery and terrific hotels- a marvellous holiday"
Martin and Lydia: Lotus Elise: Alps Summer tour 2011
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will take some beating. The scenery was breathtaking and we both only wish that perhaps more time could have been spent in some of the locations-maybe a revisit is required!
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