Slightly sunburn and relatively refreshed it was time for France Pt. Deux, this time destination all things Alpine. Back over the Pyrenees and I made it to the Med for sunset, but hidden behind the clouds. After failing to find a camp I holed up a big gay pink paradise hotel in Port La Nouvelle, or maybe I was just enticed inside by the colours and rather friendly owner.
The many miles of long straight roads in Northern France hadn’t been kind on the rear tyre and after quick pit stop in Narbonne to find a replacement, I had much more confidence in heading to the serpentine roads of the alps. As the sunset on my back surrounded by the vineyards of the Rhone region and with the snowy peaks of the Alps hazey on the horizon for the first time it felt everything was heading in the right direction, east, there was a feeling of ease.
Once I reached the foot of the Alps it was too early in the season for the camp sites to be open so another night in a hotel found me in Briancon. The lack of camp sites should have been a sign that winter hadn’t quite given up it’s hold over the mountains. But beer was calling and I didn’t give it much thought.
So in what would turn out to be a long, up, down, and twisting day of winding roads I made my first pass of the Alps early in the morning, over the Col de Montgenevre briefly in to Italy before climbing back up the Col du Mont Cenis to see where it’s believed Hannibal and his elephants crossed the Alps, and rumor had it there was a cafe with amazing views. For a third time I was in France but not for long….so I thought. Winter had other ideas and my intended route back across the Col de I’lseran and onto the Col du Petit Saint Bernard were both ferme, closed, and refusing to retrace my tracks sent me round the valleys and then into the tunnel at Chamonix and under the Alps. 9 hours and 200miles later I was back in Italy and camped in the shadow of Mont Blanc. A long day and a long way for a coffee where a man allegedly took an elephant for a walk over 2200 years ago.