Day 1 – Memmingen to Obergoms, Switzerland
Leaving Memmingen behind we travel south and enter Austria via the Fernpass, a 1,212 metre high mountain pass in the Tyrolean Alps in Austria. It is located between the Lechtal Alps on the west and the Mieming Mountains on the east. The landscape is marked by a series of lakes, the largest of which is the Blindsee. After crossing the Fernpass we turn west for Switzerland and enter the mighty Swiss Alps and onwards to our base for two nights at Obergoms.
Day 2 – Obergoms – rest day
It’s time to dump the luggage at our base for the day allowing us ample opportunity to explore the region in detail with different routes on offer to include the Susten, Furka, Grimsel and Nufenen passes to name a few.
The Furka Pass is the fourth highest in Switzerland and links the cantons of Uri and Valais. Its well-preserved winding roads coupled with stunning mountainous views make it a rider’s paradise. Various pull-over spots are situated along the pass for those wishing to capture the view on film, while there are also numerous places to stop for lunch. Beware of a couple of hairpin corners which get the heart rate going as you teeter of the edge.
Those looking to get that premium drive experience could hire an Aston Martin to recreate the James Bond scene from Goldfinger, which was shot here in the 1960s.
Day 3 – Obergoms to Val d’Isere, France
Two amazing attractions are on our list for today. First a visit to Zermatt, a small town known for the best view of Matterhorn- the world’s most photographed mountain and a symbol of Switzerland. Often called ‘the mountain of mountains’, its triangular dramatic looking top at 4,478m has been a desire of many climbers all the way since 1865. Second on the list, if time allows, is a gondola trip to Aiguille du Midi at 3842m, a literally breath-taking view of the Alps from ‘Step into the Void’ glass cage platform over a 1000m precipice! Now that’s amazing.
Day 4 – Val d’Isere to Barcelonnette, France
Today we take on the Col de l’Iseran, Col d’Izoard and Col de la Bonette.
At 2770m, the Col de l’Iseran is the highest paved road in Europe, surrounded by the glaciers of Val d’Isère and the Vanoise National Park. It’s also an epic climb of the Tour de France and the setting for the Chamois Reborn motorcycle hill – climb festival.
The Col d’Izoard is one of the great Cols of the French Alps. At an elevation of 2.360m above the sea level, it’s a high mountain pass located in Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur. Few Alpine cols are more mythic than the Izoard. The pass is traversed by the scenic Route des Grandes Alpes. The Col d’Izoard is one of the most famous mountain passes in history. While it’s rightly famous for the part it has played in Tour de France history, the Giro d’Italia has ascended it several times.
Day 5 – Barcelonnette, France – rest day.
Optional ride-outs today to incorporate some more spectacular cols with an option to visit Italy and take in some of the Route des Grandes Alpes; The journey between Lake Geneva and the shores of the Mediterranean embraces the entire French Alps. The winding road crosses spectacular mountain landscapes, and in the valleys you’ll find local cultural features and gastronomic specialities. Whether on 2 wheels or 4, Route des Grandes Alpes is a fabulous mountain road. The 684 km between Thonon-les-Bains and Menton include 16 passes that are among the highest in the Alps. It’s an exceptional natural and cultural environment.
Day 6 – Barcelonnette, France to Vercors Nature Reserve.
Home to the largest nature reserve in France, the Vercors’s dramatic rockscape and patchwork of rugged valleys are ripe to be explored. Its wild, grandiose and mysterious scenery is characterised by a wealth of natural treasures including deep gorges, caves, abysses, sheer cliffs, high plateaux, lush valleys, mountain meadows, forests and a rich flora and fauna. It is also crossed by some breathtakingly beautiful roads like Les Grands Goulets in the Drôme, and Les Gorges de la Bourne and Le Canyon des Écouges in the Isère.
The D76 Combe Laval road sustains all the drama of our route so far with a few fireworks of its own thrown in for good measure, including a sensational 4km stretch overhanging a 600m cliff face above the Cholet river. On the way up we pass through woodlands, emerging at a lay-by with an orientation panel, relating the historical importance of the local timber industry. Originally sawn in water-powered mills, the timber was floated down from Port-en-Royans to the Mediterranean via the Isère and Rhône. 15,000 tonnes are still produced annually.
At around 1000m altitude we catch sight of the first of a series of rock arches announcing the start of the Combe Laval. The curiously-named Col de la Machine (1015m) soon follows, with more fine viewpoints from which to try to take it all in, on the descent to the ruggedly-beautiful Forêt de Lente. As we emerge from the forest, the small family ski resort of Font d’Urle appears to our right – ideal for a lunch break on the terrace of a pleasant café/bar.
Suitably refreshed, we soon reach the Site National de la Résistance which occupies a commanding position on the Col de la Chau, a wild and beautiful hillside high above Vassieux, and recalling the heroic WWII events which brought the Vercors lasting fame. A few kilometres later down on the valley floor the D76 turns sharp right, past a prominent cemetery in which many of the martyrs of the French Résistance lie buried.
Day 7 – Vercors Nature Reserve to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Leaving France behind we cross back into Switzerland and set our sights for Lauterbrunnen.
Lauterbrunnen is situated in one of the most impressive trough valleys in the Alps, between gigantic rock faces and mountain peaks. With its 72 thundering waterfalls, secluded valleys, colourful alpine meadows and lonely mountain inns, the Lauterbrunnen Valley is one of the biggest nature conservation areas in Switzerland.
The very name ‘Lauter Brunnen’ (‘many fountains’) suggests the magnificence of this landscape. There are 72 waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the most famous being the Staubbach Falls. Plunging almost 300 metres from an overhanging rock face, they are one of the highest free-falling waterfalls in Europe.
Another deafening natural phenomenon are the Trümmelbach Falls in the ‘Black Monk’ mountain, hidden behind mighty rock faces. Up to 20,000 litres of water per second cascade over the ten glacier falls from a total height of about 200 metres. This spectacle can only be reached in summer by tunnel lift.
Day 8 – Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland to Kaunertal, Austria
Austria bound via the Klausen and infamous Silvretta Passes.
The Klausen Pass – the mountainside route 17 wriggles along between Altdorf and Linthal, scrunched up into bunches in three places. Tight corners and blind views force speed down in places, while glimpses of the road ahead allow you to accelerate hard in others. The top of the pass bounces between the mesa-like cliffs of Glatten to the north and the monolithic mountain range to the south. Neither are ever conquered by the pass, so you feel as though you are only a humble guest in this giant landscape.
The Silvretta Pass is considered one of the most surreal settings in Western Austria. The 30km road runs straight through a national park, and you’ll need to pay €12 per motorcycle (€15 for a car) to ride through. Don’t let this put you off – forcing a toll on motorists puts some people off, and there is less traffic than would be expected on a road of this calibre. The sweeping corners just north of the Vermuntstausee reservoir must be some of the most perfect examples of the art of the switchback in the entire world.
Day 9 – Kaunertal, Austria – rest day
Again lots of options available today including a loop to take in the Fuorn, Umbrail, Stelvio and Timmelsjoch Passes to name a few.
Day 10 – Kaunertal, Austria to Memmingen, Germany.
As it’s the last day of the tour what better way to finish than with a route across the Hahntennjoch Pass, along by Pansee Lake and finally the short hop to Memmingen.
Please note this is an outline route and may be subject to change. We will be providing a detailed itinerary pre departure.