Mont Cenis pass
It’s long been a dream of ours to traverse the alps on this famous route. The road was built in the first part of the last century so early motor car enthusiasts could drive across the highest passes in the French alps, from Lake Leman to Nice. This year, to celebrate Michael’s birthday, we finally made it happen.
We’ve been travelling in the alps for over 20 years and truly believed we’d already, at one time or another, driven every single mountain pass in the entire range. We were so wrong. Our trip took 3 days by car, we crossed 16 major passes and there was something new and spectacular to see after almost every hair-pin curve of the more than 700 kilometer route. Here are just a few of the highlights. Several of the pictures have links if you click on them. For those of you who are car, camper, cycling or hiking enthusiasts this trip belongs on your bucket list.
Michael at the wheel, ready to go. From Radda in Chianti it took us 3 days and 2 nights
The route is well marked with signs like this one.
We generally travel without reservations in hopes we’ll find gems like this one. After a traditional meal of Savoy specialties in the hotel’s restaurant we woke up to this stellar view from our window. The Hotel le-Monal in Sainte-Foy Tarentaise has been in the same family for 5 generations and they know a thing or two about genuine mountain hospitality.
Yes, that’s cow poop. On many roads we ended up trailing cows as they made their annual spring pilgrimage, the alpine transhumance, or Poya. Traditional alpine diary farmers move their herds from valley floors to their high summer pastures (alpage). Here cows produce the rich milk used to make some of Europe’s most sought after alpage cheese.
Arriving in the Beaufortain
Home of Beaufort cheese
At the highest passes we saw marmots everywhere
beautiful alpine plants
The traditional Savoy home has a large chimney – for smoking charcuterie
moving on to the Aravis massif and the home of reblochon cheese
At the Col des Aravis there were signs like this everywhere. No wonder Reblochon cheese tastes so good, look where those cows get to graze.
Look for the words “reblochon fermier” or just “fermier” on your reblochon label. It means the cheese is produced right at the farm, not by a “fruitier”, a cooperative or dairy.
This is one happy cow. Look where she spends her summer holidays!
Tartiflette (or Pela au reblochon) for lunch at Restaurant Les Rhodos at the Col des Aravis. The dish is made with the cheese produced from the milk of those spectacular cows we saw just down the road. I’ve eaten a lot of tartiflette in my life but this one was by far the best. Click the picture to get a previous post with a recipe.
The Restaurant les Rhodos where we enjoyed that delicious tartiflette.
Sainte-Anne protects travellers at the Col des Aravis
Nothing like being able to buy alpage cheese right from the farm
beautiful alpine pastures were everywhere at this time of the year
Post prandial pause
then its back to work. Isn’t she beautiful?
Time for a leisurely stroll around the small lake at the Carmelite Monastary in Reposoir
The Chartreuse du Reposoir at the foot of the Col de la Colombière, the last alpine pass we crossed before arriving at Lac Leman.
Sign at the Monastery entrance
Tommes de Savoie for sale in the market
apricot season just beginning, the market at Thonon les Bains
Couronne for sale in the market
Lac Leman and the end of our trip
Au Revoir e a Beintot!