France, Dunkerque to Italy, Genoa - Driving to the port

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June 5th 2015
Published: June 5th 2015
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Monday 1stJune 2015. Dunkerque to Guise 210 miles

An uneventful first day!! We have to be in Genoa in Italy on Thursday evening to catch the ferry to Sardinia, so we don’t have a lot of time for sight-seeing on our way down through France. We left Chris’ sisters house in London in the morning arriving at Dover in plenty of time for our ferry to Dunkerque at 12.00 noon. We arrived, in the sunshine in France about 2.30pm… French time 3.30pm and drove via Lille and Valenciennes, stopping off at a fortified village Le Quesnoy ( Huge ramparts but didn’t look that interesting!!) to do some food shopping! Lots of red brick houses, singularly unattractive, but lots of war memorials and war cemeteries that were quite poignant. Carried on to Guise, arriving about 6.30pm. Had a quick walk around the town – very pleasant, maybe medieval with a chateau and a castle that unfortunately were closed. (Camping de la Vallee de LOise- )

Tuesday 2nd June 2015 Guise to Chagny 301 miles

Decided we had to press on a bit today to cover the miles to get to Genoa by Thursday evening so after the slow drive to Laon and beyond, jumped on the Motorway at Reims to save some time….and ended up going the wrong way!! Lost about 1/2hr and 6.20Euros in tolls but hey ho!! Pushed on to Chalons-en-Champagne, got off at Junction 18 and got back onto the D977 to Troyes! Very easy to negotiate around Troyes and then got onto the D671 following the River Seine for a pretty ride down to Mussy sur Seine, where we stopped to have a wander around. Stopped also at Chatillon-sur-Seine, past the source of the Seine, before driving on down to Dijon, and then onto the D974 along the Borbougne Valley where all the wine is grown! Followed the Grand Crus route with grapevines everywhere and loads of Caves as we passed famous wine Names such as Nuits St George, Beaune etc , and onto Chagny where we stopped for the evening (ACSI Camping Paquier Fane)

Wednesday 3rd June 2015 Chagny to Lanslevillard 241 miles

Thought we would start off on the D906 to Villefranche- sur- Saone and then jump on the motorway at Junction 31.1 to get around Lyon. The motorway takes you right around the edge of Lyon (I’m sure there is a way through Lyon that is toll free!) and onto the A43 to Chambery where we decided to stop and have some lunch! A nice lunch stop with views of the impending snowy mountains and then, after leaving the motorway, we mirrored the journey alongside it on the D1006. Very pretty journey with some impressive mountains and we climbed steadily up to Mondane. As we had made good time, we thought we would go ‘over the top’ tomorrow on the Col de Mont Cenis, as against pay the 57.00 Euro toll to go through the Frejus Tunnel! Camped at Lanslevillard where we had a wander around the ski resort and the old town that has been in existence since at least the 10thC.Interesting story boards around the town with rumours of an old Benedictine monk drowning in the river Arc and his body washed down the river to Lanslevillard and the church bells started ringing by themselves! His remains were then kept in the church and up to 1960 Saint Landry was called upon to protect against drought!! Watched the sun go down over the snowy mountains and had a relaxing evening watching French TV!! (ACSI Camping Caravaneige de Val Cenis).

Thursday 4th June 2015 Lanslevillard to Genoa 170 miles

It’s always with some trepidation I agree to go over a mountain pass, as I really don’t like sheer drops, narrow roads and tight horseshoe bends! We were unable to go over the Col de L’Iseran as it was still shut (whew!!) so it was back down 3km from Lanslevillard and over the Col du Mont Cenis that was ‘open’ (ie cleared of snow!) Lovely drive up the hairpin bendy road, no sheer drops, just magic views of villages, snowcapped mountains and green pine trees! Reached the top quite quickly and stopped to walk up to the small chapel – oh what a joy! Carpets of alpine flowers, blue gentians, wild violas, yellow candytuft, forget-me-nots, orchids and many more! Just like a huge alpine garden!! Small white and brown birds flying around, couldn’t tell you what they were and to top it all, a blue damned lake! Totally beautiful!

We drove for about 2km along the top of the mountain before our descent, past many waterfalls created by the melting snow and down the windy pass to the old Italian Duane Border Control Hut where there was also a deserted village with a church called Notra Dame des Neiges, dating back to 1626. The village was abandoned in 1992 and unfortunately was not in a safe condition to go wandering around but we were lucky enough to see a furry beaver-like creature wandering about! Must look it up sometime to see what it was! Anyway, back down the Italian side of the pass, winding slowly downwards with views of the snowy mountains until eventually we reached Susa. A lovely Pass to go over and worth the extra time it takes, as against the Tunnel de Frejus (57 Euros!!)

From Susa we followed the S25 into Torino and then jumped onto the Motorway, with a plan to reach Genoa at about 15.00pm and have a look at the old town, a leisurely drink and meal in a wifi bar/restaurant before catching the ferry at 20.30pm.

Best laid plans and all that!!! The motorway was fine to start with, we didn’t get lost or end up going the wrong way but as we progressed there seemed to be more and more lorries…….and then more and more tunnels as we hit the mountains near Genoa. The road zig-zagged its way down the mountains, through the tunnels, lorries thundering until we reached Genoa! Well, Genoa seems to be on many levels and layers – ie the city tumbles down the mountain to the sea and the narrow laned motorway cuts through a succession of tunnels – even in the city itself!!! It’s a bit like being on a rollercoaster!! Quite exhausting – and I wasn’t even driving!! Anyway, we reached the Ferry Port at about 15.30pm and queued up. All the shipping lines use the same check in lanes and we were shuffled through to the next check point where we couldn’t check in until 17.00pm. Left the Van and went to the Shopping Mall/Maritime Offices above the Port area, and collected our Ferry Tickets (in exchange for online voucher) from the GNV Ticket Office. Stocked up on food at the supermarket and then checked in at 17.00pm. Shepherded through to the next line of waiting vehicles, but allowed to board at 18.00pm! Bonus!! Had time to eat a meal and check everything out before we set sail at 20.30pm passing by the salvaged Costa Condordia!! Next stop Sardinia - hopefully!!

Additional photos below
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6th June 2015

We stopped at Susa and it was a pretty place. I wonder if your creature was a marmot. There are lots of them around the mountains.
6th June 2015

Could be a marmot .... will need to check it out! We were just so lucky to see it!
18th June 2015

I am sure there are pictures of us with marmots at the top of a French pass in the 70"s. Have fun!

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