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.

IMG_0223 (1)

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

Top Gear In The South Of France: The World’s Best Driving Road?

Click here for information on Le Stuff’s French Riviera Mini Cooper Driving Adventure!

To tell you that I know my way around an automobile engine would be like telling you Michael Jackson had all the skills needed to become a champion prize fighter.

In other words, I’d be lying.

My scope of mechanical expertise ends with my crackerjack ability to discern, within seconds mind you, whether the vehicle I’m piloting has a gas or diesel engine.

The point I’m trying to illustrate here is that you don’t have to be a gear head, love cars and driving, or even have a driver’s license, to enjoy what may possibly be the finest television show ever made.

BBC’s Top Gear begins its 15th season this year.

Ostensibly about cars, driving and speed, TG is really about the interaction between the show’s three hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond.

A few of my favorite episodes? Continue reading