With ‘only’ 4 months remaining, it’s time to start thinking about our Monaco Grand Prix driving holiday. The Monaco Grand Prix Grand Tour!
As ever, it’s the first and the last day, of every grand prix package, where the bulk of the driving gets done. So Day 1 takes the drivers down to Vichy for a night in the stunning 5* Vichy Celestins Spa. This stunning hotel is located on the shore of the Allier lake, and connected to the largest European Thermal Spa. But you’re probably more interested in the driving, which really gets going on Day 2!
Leaving Vichy, and heading south towards Nice, we’ll be starting early. It’s not just the number of roads you have available to you en route to Nice, but they are some of the most incredible. We’ve talked endlessly about the Route Napoleon on this blog, so I’ll say no more than “yes, you can drive the Route Napoleon”. But if you want some other options, then you’ve got Mont Ventoux, Col de Gratteloup, Verdon Gorge, and the shelf roads of the Combe Laval. For James Bond fans, there’s even the Route de Gentelly, scene of the F355 vs Aston DB5 car chase!
Arriving in Nice you’ll probably be thinking about nothing more than the next days race, and that’s the point really. You’ll have a whole two nights in Nice, so there’s no stress getting away from the race at the right time. If you fancy a few beers afterwards, then you should definitely make the most of it.
Roll on Monday and we’re back on the road again, this time heading for Lake Lugano. The SS1 coast road, or Via Aurelia, is a stunning and relaxing way to head out of the bustle of Nice. Not only do you get incredible views of the Ligurian Sea as you head towards Italy, but the tunnels bored through the mountains is an engineering marvel. Once you hit Genoa, you’ll turn left, heading north towards Milan. It’s here that you have two route options; head straight to the hotel on the shores of Lake Lugano, or head east and drive the spectacular San Marco Pass. It’s a short drive that day, so we recommend the latter option. The route ends at the top of Lake Como, which gives a great opportunity to cruise down the west side of Lake Como.
Tuesday you should feel as fresh as a daisy, especially given the relaxing Monday you’ve had. This is important, because, the penultimate day is the greatest driving day you will ever have. As we head north towards Baden-Baden, we pass “The Big Three”, just south of Lake Lucerne. If you’re unfamiliar with the big three, you soon won’t be. Within the space of about 20km lies three of most iconic mountain roads you will ever get to drive; The Furka, Susten, and Grimsel Passes! The Furka Pass is the scene of yet another James Bond car chase, this time from Goldfinger. The Big 3 aren’t the only ones you can drive, there’s also the Gotthard and Nufenen Passes as stones throw away. Heading north towards Baden-Baden there’s a final opportunity to test your driving skills, this time with the Feldberg Pass, and then through the Black Forest and on to Baden-Baden.
Final Night is group dinner and awards night, so make sure you’re wearing something suitable, like a baby-blue sequinned tuxedo. Or a velvet smoking jacket. We’ll be wearing jeans, probably. The award categories are a carefully guarded secret, but in the past we’ve handed out awards for ‘Driver most likely to have caused a diplomatic incident’ (for the driver that crossed into Slovenia with somebody else’s passport) and ‘Driver with the most reliable car’ (for the driver who’s BMW M5 broke down on the way to the Eurotunnel on Day 1). Oh, and there’s a casino in Baden-Baden, so you need a jacket and tie to get in there too.
As Wednesday arrives, it’s time to say a tearful goodbye, and wend your way home. If you’re still feeling energetic, and it’s open, then head to the Nurburgring for your final bit of fun.