Well, it has now been six months since my wife and I returned from 2 weeks driving around France in our Type-R. I always meant to post up a thread about this incredible trip, but I have never managed to get round to it for one reason or another. This could turn into a bit of a mammoth post, so apologies in advance!
Our trip was part inspired by the footage of the amazing roads in and around the Alps on Top Gear and also by the most amazing time we had during our month driving around Germany in 2006 for the World Cup.
I will try and keep this post as car related as possible! I could write so much about our time in France but I will try and restrain myself...
rough overview of our trip was as follows:
Day 1 Ferry and drive all day on toll roads to near Geneva
Day 2 Continue south to Avignon
Day 4 Drive east to the Gorge du Verdon
Day 6 Drive south to Cassis on the Med
Day 8 Drive East to Monaco
Day 10 Drive north through the mountains towards the Alps
Day 11 As Day 10 and stop at Chamonix
Day 15 Drive back up to Calais
We camped most of the time, and just had a couple of nights in hotels along the way when we needed a proper wash. We didn't really pre-book any campsites but I had an idea as to where we might go. This meant that the whole thing was quite flexible. We had actually intended to do the route listed above in reverse order, but there was some bad weather in the Alps at the start of our trip so we headed straight down towards the Med.
Amazing things about the Type-R:
- We took two quite large suitcases, all of our camping gear including sleeping bags etc. and the Civic boot just swallowed it whole. We didn't need to fold the seats flat at any point, and we didn't really have to store anything in the cabin itself so we never had to worry about leaving anything "on display" in the car.
- Cruising on the toll-roads was very easy. Cruise control was very handy, as were the auto-wipers for that in between rain/motorway-mist type rain that we had on the way down.
- On the twisty roads (more later) the car was amazing fun, even with a fully laden boot the car still really shifted and handled like a dream on France's beautifully smooth roads
- The car was a bit of a head turner - we didn't see another Type-R in France and we only saw one other Civic along the way
- The noise of the car in all of the tunnels around the Alps was brilliant. Windows down and stamp on the loud pedal every time
Amazing things about France:
- Firstly, the roads. Granted, we went hunting for the best roads we could, and this was the whole premise of the holiday. But, I was simply staggered and amazed at the endless twists, turns, scenery and road quality. In addition, the roads were incredibly quiet and so we were hardly ever stuck behind anyone. Highlights were the loop around the Gorges du Verdon (truly incredible), the Col de Turini rally stage heading North out of MonteCarlo, and all of the roads up to the numerous mountain passes in the Alps. Incredible.
- Toll roads. Whilst I was a little peeved at the price before our trip, it's totally worth it. We didn't hit a single jam and just sailed down to the south of France on the toll roads. We must have spent €150 on tolls easy, not including tunnels, but it was worth every cent
- The Alps. Oh my goodness, they are amazing. I'm fortunate enough to be pretty well travelled, and I've been to the Alps before, but it's worth stating again how amazingly beautiful they are.
- Campsites. Camping in France (or Germany, or Holland) is quite a different experience to any bad memories you may have camping as a kid in England. The sites are all very well equipped and cost less than €20 per night for one tent, one car and two adults
- Monaco & MonteCarlo. The place itself is pretty spectacular, but the highlight for most people on this forum will be the incredible range of supercars you can see. Honestly, every other car seemed to be a proper Supercar, and those that weren't were top spec BMWs or Mercs. I can barely think of a type of Ferrari, Lambo, Aston, Porsche that we didn't see. We even saw and Audi R8.
- Chamonix & Mont Blanc. Mont Blanc is a truly awesome sight and the walking in the hills above Chamonix is just unbelievable.
As you might be able to tell, we had simply an incredible time. I could go one for ages, but this is a GALLERY post, and so it's time for some pictures.
Next stop, a short trip to Germany and the Nurburgring in the early summer...