Montagnes de France - 24 September to 7 October 2015
Deuxième Étape - Pyrenees, Spain, Andorra, Menton
Story Jim Paterson.
Photos Jim Paterson, Mags Campbell, Dave Spence, Louise Wall
miles through France, Spain, Andorra and Italy crossing countless
'cols' and driving great roads. This was Montagnes de France 2015.
We were now crossing the border at the the Col du
Pourtalet at 1794m point
(over 5800 ft), for lunch, one of the highest passes on our tour.
goes up must come down, as they say as we passed spectacular scenery
including the Lac del Escarra on our way to Broto, our overnight stop.
The Sprite began showing signs of brake fade so more checks tomorrow.
Broto (Spain) to Soldeu (Andorra)
29th and time to check and replenish fluids in the Sprite ready for our
200 mile jaunt along the Pyrenees to Soldeu in Andorra. We took the
5230 metre (over 3 miles) Tunel de Vielha through the mountain, and crossing
the Puerta de la Bonaigua pass at 2072 metres (6800 ft) ,the higest pass on our
tour. The view back down on the 'lacets' reminded me of the Stelvio.
Lunch was at the unsually named Café Paris in the Spanish town of Vielha.
Andorra, though not
in the EU it does use the Euro as the de facto currency. Landlocked
between France and Spain Andorra is the sixth smallest nation in
Europe, only 181sq mls. Navigating through the capital Andorra la Velha
was a nightmare, not made easier by the locals complete lack of any
lane discipline. We eventually reached our destination Soldeu, some 11
miles beyond the capital. The Sprite was now losing power as we
arrived which we would look at in the morning as rain had caught us up.
Soldeu (Andorra) to Millau (France)
on Wednesday 30th brought a dry start and a check of the Sprite
revealed near empty SU dash pots. A quick top up and all seemed well.
Today was a longer 220 mile run back to France and Millau, starting
with a climb up the Port d'Envalira at 2047 metres (6700 ft). Simon
heard a 'ping' from the engine bay on the way up and at the top the
Sprite would not idle below 1500rpm!
showed the front
carb throttle return spring had jumped off and the front carb throttle
linkage had slipped
messing up the carb synchronisation. Duncan Massie is an old hand with
SU carb setups, and together with Richard Bartniczek who knows plenty
about A series engines they managed to 'bodge' a decent repair, with
only a change of play on the throttle pedal to manage. Of course
springs in the parts bag. At this point we said farewell to
Duncan and Jenny, Ron and Jan as they headed off toward on an extended
tour of France and Spain.
The remaining six crews passed by
the Col de Puymoren on through the Envilira Tunnel at just over a
mile long, one of the highest road tunnels in
Europe. Emerging at the eastern end we were soon back in
France. But our route would take us briefly back into Spain at
Puigcerda before turning north to Carcassonne. The weather deteriorated and it was soon time to raise the soft tops.
our route took us back into the Massif Central arriving finally at
Millau, famous for the viaduct, a cable stayed bridge of the design
being used for the new Forth Road Crossing. Very impressive with the
12th highest bridge deck in the world at 890 ft up. Some crews called
in at the visitor centre and took the opportunity to drive across the
Millau to Tournon sur Rhone
The 190 mile drive to Tournon sur Rhone on Thursday
1st October took us through the Gorge du Tarn which is a steep sided
gorge or canyon, reminding me at times of Cheddar Gorge, but bigger and
longer at some 33 miles long,
Pressing on we reached Mende for a quick coffee stop then into
the Ardèche region, used regularly on the Monte carlo Rallye. We
passed by Mézilhac and its col, only 1100 metres this time.Our
route took us to Le Cheynard, Lanastre and through the Le Doux Valley
to reach Tournon-sur-Rhone. No one hotel could take us all so we split
for the night to regather in the morning.
Tournon sur Rhone to Menton
marathon on Friday 2nd October with some 250 miles to Menton, crossing
many of the 'Monte' rally roads, some we have used in previous
Trans Alpina tours.
through the Vercours Regional Park which is peppered with caves, many
used by the French Resistance during WW2, we climbed the Col de Rousset
at 1254m (4100 ft). Taking in the view we were treated to a Dixon
Spéciale going the other way. Was this a tribute to Freddie
Dixon of Riley racing fame?
stop the descent to the town of Die where we stopped off for a
coffee, before crossing the Col de Cabre at 1180m (3900ft) on our way
to Serres and Digne le Bain to join the route taken
by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815 on his march from Elba to
Grenoble, toward the Cote D'Azur. Napoleon started in Grasse, but we
kept heading west to Nice and finally on to the Peagé to our
overnight in Menton. The Sprite took a rest in the underground car park
at the Ibis, something we would be thankful of the next day.
Updated 23 October