Where: Col de Vence, Cote d'Azur
Car used: Peugeot RCZ R
"This drive is a snippet from the launch route of the Peugeot RCZ R. The full 130km is epic if you have the time as it picks up the Route Napoleon and takes you back towards Vence. The south of France is used for plenty of car launches, and it's not difficult to see why from this experience.
"Starting from our hotel in Vence, we went out of town on the M2 Route de Coursegoules, which is a pretty spectacular road in itself. Just before Coursegoules it becomes the D2, where it works its way to Greolieres and Thorenc for kilometre after snaking kilometre.
"Carrying on past Caille, the D79, the N85 (yes, that is Napoleon's fabled route) and the D12 take you back towards Vence."
"Where to start? Being British, the weather plays a huge part. Tackling a great road in beautiful sunshine rather than drizzle makes a huge (positive) difference, plus it makes the views all the more breathtaking.
"What stood out for me personally during my first time there was the relentless intensity of the roads. There is just no time to rest but, if you're up for the challenge, it's hugely rewarding. Up in the mountains, the hairpins switch back on each other incessantly but, because they're well sighted, you can pick your line and live out tarmac rally fantasies to your heart's content.
"Out at Greolieres there are some quicker sections but, just as you think the speed is picking up, there'll be another tight hairpin to keep you on your toes. It's all really well surfaced, to a British bum at least, allowing you to focus on inputs rather than scouring the road for potholes.
"There's huge variety on the Col de Vence too. Occasionally the scenery is as you would expect from the region, with overhanging cliffs and plunging valleys. Then a dense forest puts you in mind of central Europe, if you have time to look away from the road..."
"Two sections burn brightest in my mind. The first is as you're climbing out of Vence with loads of tight second-gear bends working through the hills. Sometimes third is needed for a bit, but often it's just running right up to the limiter, braking as late as possible and threading your way through. The rock faces up around half way through are spectacular too. There the same roads used in the opening chase for Goldeneye; it typifies the south of France and is an excellent stretch of Tarmac.
"But there's plenty to be wary of too. As Mr Bond found, it's a popular cycling route so be prepared to make space for those attacking the Col on two wheels. Locals using four wheels and an engine can also be a hazard, practicing their lines regardless of other vehicles. And don't get too keen cutting bends; some of the drops off the road can be severe and looked like wheel ruiners. We stumbled across roadworks with very little warning too. Be careful!"
"There wasn't much opportunity to explore on the launch, but there are so many stunning roads in the region you really are spoilt for choice. The Col de Vence is wonderful largely because it's often deserted; only small towns and villages are on the route, and traffic is fairly sparse. However, keep a look out for the ranch (yes, really) and some stunning picnic spots if you fancy a break.
"Moreover, look at where Vence is! Cannes and Nice are just at the coast and there must be a whole host of beautiful little villages on the way. Unfortunately my time there was very much limited to one car and one route, but it was more than enough to make returning a priority. Soon."
Follow the route here
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