I guess it’s a mark of how much confidence we have in our satnav.
‘Miss Polly’ built into the car and is usually pretty trustworthy. She’s not led us into a lake or instructed us to do a U-turn on the M25 in the 6 years we’ve had the car.
So yesterday when we had to drive from Saas Fee to Belle Plagne, we loaded the car up, merely glanced at the suggested route last just under 4 hours, and blithely drove off down the mountain.
DH had used Googlemaps to print out a back up map and both versions of our route were in agreement until we reached Chamonix. Then Miss Polly instructed us to bear left and it was only then we realised that the traffic we were caught up in was actually queuing for the Mont Blanc tunnel.
An urgent check of the satnav’s suggestion confirmed this was the route it had in mind for us. We were in two minds. The tunnel exits in Italy and we had never driven further than Courmayeur; we were unfamiliar with the route or the terrain. On the other hand, it was a bit of an adventure. We decided to go with the flow and enjoy the adventure.
We had to wait an hour before we were able to enter the 7 mile long tunnel. Traffic entry is strictly controlled since a truck fire in 1999 killed 39 people. Trucks are screened for hot points before entering the tunnel, and all vehicles are widely spaced. It is suggested that drivers maintain a distance of 150m between their vehicle and the one in front but we saw many smaller gaps on our journey through.
When we reached the Italian side, Miss Polly had a mild strop going through Courmayeur and we drove around in circles for a while before finally heading for the Little St Bernard Pass.
At about 3, we stopped at a little Italian roadside cafe and ate the hugest pizzas we’ve ever seen. They were delicious and with full stomachs we went on our way.
The mountain road was full of potholes and quite narrow but it took us through some amazing scenery. I was gagging to get out and take some photos but we were running late and it just couldn’t be done.
We weaved our way past motorbikes, cyclists and camper vans and spotted some support vehicles that suggested they were accompanying cyclists travelling from Bangkok to Paris.
By the time we drew close to our hotel in Belle Plagne, the scenery seemed tame to say the least. We were reminded of Miss Polly’s one serious flaw; her tendency to assume that hairpin bends can be negotiated at 60mph as our journey time approached 7 , then 8 hours.
But we made it in time for high tea for the kids, and had time to settle into our rooms while the kids made new friends to replace the ones we left back in Switzerland.
DH and I were knackered though. It was tiring travelling through three different countries in one day. It’s not every day that you eat breakfast in Switzerland, lunch in Italy and dinner in France.