The PistonHeads Alpine South Tour 2012

Nine days to pass through six countries, taking in the Pyrenees, many Alpine passes, the Millau Bridge, Stelvio and Mont Ventoux. If that wasn’t enough, we’ll drive some Tour de France special stages, the Ducati testing grounds and the old Grand Prix circuit at Reims. This is an adventure most people only dream about and to keep it relaxed it is limited to just 18 cars.

If you thought adrenalin and relaxation were mutually exclusive, think again. This trip has something for everyone. Amazing driving roads contrast with relaxing hotels and beautiful scenery. You’ll be supported by tour managers who lead and chase (in a good way) the group and you’ll be able to relax and relive the day's events at dinner in the company of fellow PHers.

This trip is aimed as much at couples looking to enjoy the trip as it is for the dedicated driver. There’s no pressure on you: drive at your own pace behind the tour leader or hang back with the chase car. It’s our job to help you make the most of it in a way you want to.

We include the loan of one of our Tom Toms with all the routes pre-loaded in addition to the use of our licensed walkie-talkies, so getting lost and missing the best roads simply won’t happen.

So what’s in store?

Day 1 - Friday: Portsmouth - Bilbao
Meeting at the ferry terminal we cruise down to Spain, getting to know each other while relaxing ahead of the driving.

Day 2 - Saturday: Bilbao - Jaca - 170 Miles
We head across into northern Spain and into the Pyrenean foothills for our overnight stop in the vicinity of the charming old Spanish town of Jaca. A late dinner awaits to wrap up the day.

Day 3 - Sunday: Jaca - Carcasonne  - 280 Miles
After the first of our daily drivers briefings there’s a spirited drive up and over the picturesque and largely deserted Pyrenees, crossing two Pyrenean national parks on our way to the stunning medieval city of Carcassonne. Our hotel (with swimming pool) is just 100 yards from the walled city and there’ll be plenty of time to explore before we have dinner in a private dining room later that evening.

Day 4 - Monday: Carcasonne - Carpentras - 260 Miles
Another fun-filled day of driving through the challenging and picturesque French back roads with the added bonus of a trip to the stunning Millau Bridge, the Norman Foster-designed jewel in the crown of French roads.

Day 5 - Tuesday: Carpentras to Val D'Isere - 270 Miles
An (optional) early start for a dawn raid on one of our favourite driving roads, Mont Ventoux - a special stage of the Tour De France. A glorious piece of Tarmac with razor-sharp hairpins and short straights leading up to a summit with breathtaking views. We may even have time to do the ascent more than once, and believe us when we tell you it is well worth it. After breakfast we head across the national park to the Col Du Galibier (2645m) before ascending the second highest paved mountain road in Europe, the Col De L'Iseran (2770m) and then descending into the ski resort of Val D'Isere for our overnight stay.

Day 6 - Wednesday: Val D'Isere to Furka - 240 Miles
The passes and countries come thick and fast for the next few days. We leave Val D’Isere and head out of France and into Italy (briefly) courtesy of the Petit St Bernard, then use the Grand St Bernard to take us into Switzerland. That might be enough for some, but we’re here to make the most of our time, so we head across the valley passing Sion and round off the day with a fantastic trio of passes: Nufenen, St Gotthard and Furka, where we give our cars a well-earned rest.

Day 7 - Thursday: Furka - Stelvio - 265 Miles
Heading to Grimsel to warm the cars up before we continue in earnest, dispatching Susten, San Bernadino and the Julier pass. We pause for breath as we pass by St Moritz and admire the beautiful Lake Livigno before taking on the Umbrail pass and ending the day with Stelvio. You’ll have plenty of time to make the most of the view: we’re staying right at the top.

Day 8 - Friday: Stelvio to Offenburg - 296 Miles
Leaving Stelvio, we take the route that Top Gear described as the best driving road in the world. Stelvio is one part of it, but in reality it’s the Fluelapass toward Davos that got their attention and we’ll show you why. With that we head north and exit Switzerland, but that’s not the end of the fun - far from it. It’s time to hit the Black Forest and a different style of fun roads, with long sweeping bends and smooth straights that will keep that smile firmly on your face. Finally, we draw into Offenburg and our last hotel.

Day 9 - Saturday: Offenberg to Calais - 404 miles
The last day of the trip and the homeward leg, but we’ve saved a bit of fun for the last day: a trip to the old Grand Prix circuit at Reims. For so long this historic circuit and its outbuildings were in ruins. Now, however, they are being brought back to life. We have time to stop for a photo opportunity and a quick blast down the old straight to get a sense of what it was like all those years ago. Then we head to Calais and a sad farewell to your fellow tourers and new found friends.

What’s included:

  • One-way ferry (including twin berth outside cabins with windows) - Portsmouth to Bilbao.
  • One way Eurotunnel crossing - Calais to Folkestone.
  • 7 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast and dinner included.
  • Two experienced tour managers in two cars to lead and chase.
  • Loan of Tom Tom with all routes pre-loaded.
  • Loan of powerful licensed walkie talkies.
  • Drivers packs with route notes, maps and useful information.

What’s not included:

  • Lunch, food on the ferry, drinks, tolls, fuel, personal expenses.
  • European breakdown cover (this is a requirement on all tours).

The price is £1499 per person (based on two people sharing a car and a twin or double room).

A £50 discount applies if you book before Christmas 2011, making the price £1449 per person.

There is also a solo driver option (sharing a twin/double room) priced at £1699 per person which, with the £50 discount, comes down to £1649 for bookings made before Christmas 2011.

The booking deposit is £500 per person.

If you would like to book, please call the guys at Petrolhead Nirvana on 0845 838 7363.

Comments (24) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Mermaid 06 Dec 2011


  • pSyCoSiS 06 Dec 2011

    This looks epic.

    Wish I could do it this year...

  • ktm301p 06 Dec 2011

    Really wish I could do this!

  • drewbagz 06 Dec 2011

    Unfortunately i wont have quite saved enough cash for the M3 to take on this trip, but 2013 looks for sure. My only concern is that an M3 whilst driven spiritedly will probably only do 180 miles to a tank MAX! and some of these routes through various passes are in excess of 200 miles with very few petrol stations around.

    I predict a problem.

  • OdramaSwimLaden 06 Dec 2011

    drewbagz said:
    Unfortunately i wont have quite saved enough cash for the M3 to take on this trip, but 2013 looks for sure. My only concern is that an M3 whilst driven spiritedly will probably only do 180 miles to a tank MAX! and some of these routes through various passes are in excess of 200 miles with very few petrol stations around.

    I predict a problem.
    I'm sure that has been factored in; 50 mile range - problem. 200 (ish) mile range, I would suggest you'll be fine.

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