So after the pretty hectic day that was the drive from Aix En Provence to nice, we finally settled into our little studio apartment that we rented through a site called AirBnB.
From what I can gather, it is basically a way for private citizens to rent out either a room or a full apartment, most probably breaking so me sub-let agreement in the process, but it turned out to be pretty cheap in general. The place we found was a little studio apartment that we had to ourselves about a 10 minute tram ride from the centre of Nice, had a car park that we could use, kitchen, and shops nearby. This turned out to be a really nice change as we could go and get some “normal” food to cook rather than having to eat out all the time.
Anyway, I think I am a glutton for punishment, because after the driving of yesterday, I decided to… drive to Monaco. Yep that place which is famed for all of the expensive cars and crazy traffic, and I was going to willingly put myself into that!
So we mapped out a bit of a plan. Drive from Nice to Monaco, find the tunnel on the F1 track just so I can say that have driven on it, then head to Menton, and finally up into the hills around Nice before finally coming back. It was ambitious and a full day worth of driving, but i had gradually gained more and more confidence the day before, so i thought it would be worth it.
And boy was the view worth it. After taking a little while to get out of Nice, we finally found the famed Moyenne Corniche, which is the main scenic road on the short distance from Nice to Monaco. I won’t bother describing it, ill let the photos do that. It was amazing, and I think it might even slightly trump Scotland in terms of the best sights we have seen so far. (I am currently writing this on the way to Switzerland, so I may well change my view in a couple of days).
On the Moyenne Corniche, on the way from Nice to Monaco
After the stunning coastal scenery we finally made it to Monaco, and I had one goal in mind – to drive on a part of the Formula One track! The obvious choice to achieve this was to find the tunnel, which turned out to be easier said than done. Even though i knew exactly where the tunnel was, typing what i want into the GPS was proving to be a little bit harder than i though. The reason it is more difficult than you think is sometimes there is a mismatch between the road names in google maps compared with the actual street names. Google tries to translate sometimes, which can be all well and good, but it doesn’t help you find the actual road you are looking for. And sometimes you don’t know whether it is a boulevard, or avenue etc, but in French it would be boulevard de …., so you really need to pay attention to those little things.
Another pretty scary thing was that quite often you had to move onto the wrong side of the road to overtake people. I.e because of the lack of parking, and the narrow streets, cars would quite often just find anywhere they could to park, which meant they were sticking out into the lane. Or sometimes a truck will be unloading, so instead of trying to find a place to park, they will just chuck their hazards on and sit in the middle of the road and unload their load. It was one of these times where a truck parked in the worst possible spot, on a slight right hand corner so there was no way i could see around it. Eventually in what looked like a break in traffic, i decided to just gun it and try and overtake this truck…. and was greeted with a Lamborghini Gallardo coming straight at me! My first thought was “sweet a Lambo!” But then I realised I was about to have a HEAD ON WITH A LAMBO!. Luckily the VW Passat wasn’t too bad in the power department, and I could sink the boot in and get back into my lane.
After all that commotion, what transpired was a 90 minute or so drive around the winding traffic jammed roads of Monaco, with the GPS usually not being accurate and putting us on the correct road! Whilst frustrating, I was determined to drive on the F1 track. It is what I came here to do, and finally, we got there.
Here is a video that Chereen took whilst i was driving. A little bit boring at only 50kph but it was still exciting for me!
I had originally planned to try and park and have some lunch in Monaco, but because we spent so long I decided we would try and drive out into the country a little bit, maybe that will calm the nerves a little bit and we can find a nice little bakery or something to have lunch. Well I wasn’t sure quite how wrong I was about calming the nerves until it was too late.
In the planning stages of the holiday i found a Nice driving holiday itinerary, and I sounded pretty cool so that was the basis for the itinerary that i designed for this part of our holiday. What I didn’t take into account was just how crazy the traffic in the cities, and the roads in the country would be. After driving through Menton, which seemed to be a little bit like Monaco, we decided to drive up unto the country, and it was some of the most beautiful but also the most scary roads i have ever driven on.
I don’t think some of the photos we have do it justice, but basically we ended up driving for around 2 hours on an incredibly narrow road, and the windiest road i have ever been on. Most of the road was single lane, and unlike in Scotland where there were some very defined turnout areas where cars could easily let other cars past, there were were parts of the road where I think if a car came the other way, one of us would have to back up 100m or more! There was also no rails at all, so most of the road had cliffs on both sides – one side with a sheer drop, the other side a rock wall! So unfortunately instead of enjoying the scenery, I was inching along at probably 40 kph, trying not to run into a cliff, or off a cliff, or into another car. There were also full switchbacks where you literally had to turn at full lock just to turn around the corner, and it was then so steep you couldn’t see what was coming.
It took us about 2 hours to drive 100km or maybe even less, and after that I was absolutely spent, and decided to bail on the rest of the days driving and head back to Nice.
This was honestly the widest and best part of the road. The further we got up into the hills, the narrower the road got, the lower that little wall on the left got, and the steeper and windier the road got.
Incredible views from up in the hills, it was just a shame that I spent so much time concentrating on the road that I didn’t have much time to enjoy them.