Image

TDAF2016 – Day4: One of the best roads for TWIKEing…in the world

Welcome to the fourth day of TDAF2016, a yearly adventure with TWIKE 560 making its way to the sea after 3 days relentlessly crossing some of the highest (and the highest) passes in Europe.

No passes were crossed off our list today. This, however, doesn’t mean that we didn’t get to climb a few hills… below 2000m 🙂

Spoiler alert: Lots of fun, heart-wrenching sounds, beautiful roads and places you have to visit coming up.

After some very fitful sleep we are engaged in long conversations with the other guests and owners of the Grand Chalet. They absolutely wanted us to continue up the hill and take a parallel valley which also leads to Nice. After showing the owners our planned route, they tell us that yes, this would be indeed an exceptionally nice drive but it would take *much* longer, be a slow drive and we would be driving through completely deserted stretches of land…which is exactly what we want!

It proves difficult to extract ourselves and get on the road – especially since the home-made offerings are extremely tasty 🙂

We didn’t fully charge our battery during the night, since we have to drive back down to the valley – 14km @ 8% is about 570-600Wh of energy waiting for us.

We coast down the valley for another few km until our MyMaps-Track tells us to leave the main road and take a small and winding road up the hill.

This is going to be fun!

This is going to be fun!


 
The Grand Chalet’s owners had told us that we could expect perfect weather for a road trip – driving through the only Département in France without rain! 🙂

The climb takes us up a very narrow road up a very green hill to nowhere…

Our beautifully deserted road

Our beautifully deserted road


 
…until we arrive in La Tour.

Like Privas, think the most quaint French village you can imagine – complete with Mairie (town hall), church, two small restaurants, main square with old people and cobblestone. See us exploring the place before we stopped to take in the place, have a coffee and chat:

This is the real French experience. We join a local resident under the pergola of one of La Tour’s two café/bars and start chatting about everything from the current chaos due to strikes to what strange vehicle we’re driving. (The Café au Lait is – again – particularly tasty)

Us, enjoying a truly French moment

Us, enjoying a truly French moment


 

JC after I told him that he absolutely could stay here and join the elders on the main square :)

JC after I told him that he absolutely could stay here and join the elders on the main square 🙂


 
Exploring La Tour on foot, we discover some of the stunning views the local population can enjoy from their houses every day:

The view from La Tour

The view from La Tour


 
Welcome to the main village square & main parking space.

La Tour - best fitting vehicle: TW560

La Tour – best fitting vehicle: TW560


 
La Tour sur Tienée, main square.

La Tour sur Tienée, main square.


 
It goes without saying that we just *loved* the place!

On our way out of La Tour we got to see the village perched upon a hill in its full glory:

La Tour sur Tienée

La Tour sur Tienée


 

From here, our road took us to Utelle. Small, narrow roads, sometimes just barely wide enough for our TWIKE were what we found. This wasn’t much of a problem, though – we drove for over an hour without crossing a car 🙂

Our favourite road-type: single, deserted.

Our favourite road-type: single, deserted.


 
Our road - taking us through dozens of km of this

Our road – taking us through dozens of km of this


 
As we arrive in Utelle, an even smaller, unmarked, road branches off up the hill. Since we still have more than enough energy in our batteries, we decide to follow that road to wherever it will take us. (this will turn out to be a *very* good decision! 🙂 )

On the way up to the Sanctuaire d'Utelle

On the way up to the Sanctuaire d’Utelle


 
Eventually, the forest opens up and within a couple of metres, we’re on a very flat plateau atop of a very high hill with 360° vistas from the sea to the French Alps.

It doesn't get any better than this!

It doesn’t get any better than this!


 
Yes, the road continues back there.

Yes, the road continues back there.


 
Only 4 other people found their way up here – No noise or voices disturb this pristine place. The only thing we hear is the wind blowing across the hilltop – it’s a very relaxing moment.

Taking the picture-taker's picture takers' picture

Taking the picture-taker’s picture takers’ picture


 

The views from here are breathtaking. Check out this pano – it was taken direction south.

Nice and the Sea in the background

Nice and the Sea in the background


 

With my new-found love for all things 360°, I take another stunning picture I hope to be able to show interactively here soon.

There are worse places to TWIKE :)

There are worse places to TWIKE 🙂


 
With only 30km to Monaco and us having taken over 4 hours for 80km, it’s time press onward.

Again, our track takes us away from the main road and we’re back to what we like most. Winding our way along a valley, slowly climbing a hill:

Eventually, we emerge atop the hill Monaco lies and we get to see just how small the territory is and how condensed it is built over.

Monaco Municipality

Monaco Municipality


 
We enter Monaco and hit heavy traffic in a town that has just too little space for the traffic trying to get through it.

As we emerge from the old town, we see that there is still very much infrastructure from F1 in process of being dismantled. We couldn’t resist driving most of one virtual lap of the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. 🙂

F1 leftovers still visible, 2 weeks later.

F1 leftovers still visible, 2 weeks later.


 
Looks like during the F1 races!

Looks like during the F1 races!


 
As usual, when we just drive aimlessly wherever TW560 takes us, good/interesting things happen: Today, we ended up in Monaco’s Country Club parking lot. Which featured an eclectic selection of cars from very expensive via extremely flashy to plainly over the top. Number plates range from local, German, UK, Swiss to Russian, Belorussian and Dubai. My feeling was that there is a correlation between eastern plates and the ‘over the top’ category of cars…

The elites haven't yet embraced electric mobility...

The elites haven’t yet embraced electric mobility…


 
Although the Range Rover could already be placed in the over-the-top category, my favourite was a mat-black souped-up G500 AMG G-Wagen, complete with massive side-pipes and eye-poppingly large rims, driven by a young shirtless driver. (Belorussian plates)

Another feature of this unique parking lot is a permanent Ferrari test-drive expo where members of the country club may take any one of the 3 Ferrari’s for a spin – free of charge, of course.

I, however, have a better idea – approaching the very good-looking, crisp black Chanel dress wearing young lady I interest her in the Idea of parking TW560 beside the two other cars and see what happens 🙂

A very fitting parking space!

A very fitting parking space!


 
We generate some interest, but it doesn’t result in any TWIKE test drives … or any purchase offers for TW560.

(Which wouldn’t be for sale, anyway – I heard the best answer for such an offer 2011, when we were on TDD2011 in Denmark, when we met a Messerschmitt-KR200-driver and someone approached him and genuinely offered him to buy his vehicle: “Kauf Dir Dein eigenes” was his answer… which translates to “Buy *your* own one” i.e not his 🙂 )

As the Ferrari lady and us were waiting for potential TWIKE customers, we spoke about electric mobility in Monaco and what status it had in the circles of people who would frequent the Country Club. (Since there were ZERO Tesla’s to be seen). She then pointed out that there indeed was one German patron who was here with an electric vehicle and pointed us in the direction of this said vehicle, parked at the far end of the lot…

Wow: A de-luxe version of a Twizy!

Wow: A de-luxe version of a Twizy!


 
The tuning company did a very good job with this Twizy. Chrome side applications, custom paint job and bespoke interior. They even changed all plastics and the awful dashboard display to a high-resolution color TFT!

Bespoke interior!

Bespoke interior!


 
Since we don’t want to spend £250 for a shoebox-sized room in Monaco (UEFA football games in Nice this very evening!), we headed out of Monaco, back to France, direction Italy along the coast.

Monaco in the background

Monaco in the background


 
There, for the first time, we get really close to the sea and are able to take our first TWIKE+Sea picture. Yay! We’re really looking forward to 2 days driving along the Ligurian coast.

Ah. The sea - we made it!

Ah. The sea – we made it!


 
Time for some food – we’ve been on the road for quite some time again and were getting hungry.

We find a very nice little Restaurant right at the sea and start relaxing by looking out to the sea whilst waiting for our food.

View from restaurant: Turquoise sea, 27°C, Life is good.

View from restaurant: Turquoise sea, 27°C, Life is good.


 
A light salad seemed in order and fitting the environment.

Mediterranean food - mmm

Mediterranean food – mmm


 
Again, a wonderful day draws to an end and whilst I’m blogging here in my hotel room, I’m already looking forward to our next day on the road with TW560!

TDAF2016, Day4

TDAF2016, GPS track of day4