Great Drives: The Col de Braus

Recently I took advantage of a beautiful fall day and drove to the col de braus in the eastern backcountry, a spot that has been on my to-drive list for some time.

My route began on the D2204 just outside La Trinite, the industrial suburb north of Nice.

Admittedly, there is not much to see in La Trinite, but patience has its rewards. 

As I cruised into the hills, past the clutter of Cantaron, grunge gave way to green countryside.

Here the road meanders comfortably back and forth, the occasional straightaway appearing at just the right time beneath perfectly aligned rows of plane trees.

In twenty minutes I felt properly tucked away in the backcountry as I dropped down into L’Escarene, a pretty town built in the eleventh century at the confluence of the Redebraus and Paillon streams. The ancient bridge over the Paillon took me northeast toward Touet-de-L’Escarene, roughly 3 kilometers away. 

The road narrowed into a single lane as it cut through the center of Touet-de-L’Escarene, and as I crept along, I could almost touch the crumbling facades of the old houses that line the street.

Up to this point the climb had been mostly gradual, an easy lark on a weekend morning, but now, outside Touet-de-L’Escarene, the mountains rose up steep, jagged and breathtakingly beautiful.

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Soon I entered a series of switchbacks cut into the mountainside above a deep ravine. The sheer drop-off at the edge of the pavement was, at times, vertigo-inducing. The final set of “lacets”, eight hell-raising twists up a steep slope, made a fitting finale for a great drive. Continue reading

Le Stuff Links

I’ve done my fair share of Internet surfing lately and thought I might let you in on a few of my discoveries.

All of these, of course, are south of France related…. so enjoy.

1) “The 19 Most Complex and Dangerous Roads in the World”
OK, what does this have to do with the south of France?  Well, as any Le Stuff reader should know by now I love driving – so much so that I’ve put together a Mini Cooper Driving Tour featuring the number one road in this article – the awesome col de Turini!

2) I’ve been resourcing Provence & Beyond for years.
Need information on area villages, sports, gastronomy, etc.?
There is not a more comprehensive site covering the south of France on the web.  Check it out and if you’re not impressed, I’ll buy you a beer.

3) Julie Mautner is an American writer who has lived and worked in S.t Remy de Provence since 1999.  Her blog, The Provence Post, is chock full of fun stories, recommendations, and gossip.  Don’t miss her guest post series “The Cocktail Drinkers Guide to Gardening” by good friend James Clay.

4) “How To Make That French Vacation More Affordable”
A good, common sense article by Jerry Lanson over at True/Slant.
I found the link on “The Provence Post”