The Maritime Alps are especially well known by racing cyclists and bikers. Some of the most beautiful pass roads are located in the Maritime Alps and a lot of them are known from the Tour de France, the most important bicycle race in the world. The “Grand Routes des Alpes” is connecting some of the most beautiful and highest pass roads in the Maritime Alps.
Day 1: Provence
The tour begins in a picturesque former mill and stagecoach station in the heart of Provence. Our Mercedes-Benz classics await you for your first trip through an avenue of thick leafy old trees from Napoleon’s time. On the drive towards Salon-de-Provence, enjoy the scent of rosemary, lavender, and wild caraway seeds while cork oak forests and pine trees slide past you. Time will seem to be at a standstill during a coffee stop in the village square of Pelissanne, where the architecture reflects the history of this quaint area. Locals playing boules, which is called “petanque” in this country, the village youth on skateboards, relaxed mothers chatting between shopping and childcare. You will find an abundance of happy faces enjoying their time in the sun. We will then take a drive back to the hotel, where you will have time to relax by the pool and sample the hotel’s fine cuisine in the elegant courtyard before resting for the next day’s festivities.
Day 2: The path to the Hautes Alpes – the Lac de Serre-Ponçon
We leave shortly after breakfast; you will have an immersive dreamlike drive across the Luberon into the high mountain landscape of the French Maritime Alps. For the first few kilometres, the typical landscape of Provence dominates with its charming light limestone and sandstone cliffs, oak forests, and impressive lavender fields. However, once the Lac de Serre-Ponçon appears on the horizon, the first elevations of the French Western Alps give a beautiful impression of how vast the high alpine landscape of the Maritime Alps really is. Azure blue water surrounded by the mountains of the French Western Alps, and kilometres of shores that are only accessible by water make the lake an Eldorado for water sports enthusiasts. Behind Guillestre, the valley narrows, and the route is reminiscent of the Gorges du Verdon. Narrow gorges alternate with mountain streams, tunnels and routes are carved out of the rock, worthy of each gaze. The Combe du Queyras canyon takes you into the high mountains of the Queyras National Park, where visitors are quickly greeted by the image of the mighty Queyras Castle. At 2,000 metres above sea level, your domicile awaits you for the next few days: a uniquely selected boutique hotel right at the heart of your trip.
Day 3: The Col d’Izoard and the Route towards the Grandes Alpes
After breakfast overlooking a mountain sunrise, you start your SL for the most beautiful section of this trip. From here, you will master the first pass of the “Route des Grandes Alpes”; well-developed mountain roads lead you through rugged, partly moon-like high mountain scenery. Spectacular 360-degree panoramas of the snow-capped peaks of the Maritime Alps are the order of the day here. The drive will be demanding, yet so rewarding, as you overtake the roads of the day on the long serpentines into the valley. At noon, you can reach the peak around 1,400 metres above sea level located in Briançon. The highest city in France is the starting point of the five valleys and strategically located on the nearby border with Italy. A long walk through the narrow, fortified old town gives an idea of why UNESCO included Briançon as a World Heritage Site.
Day 4: Hussar ride to the Côte d’Azur
Even on the last day, varied stages await you and your Mercedes-Benz classic. Today two of the most beautiful passes of the “Route des Grandes Alpes” are on the programme. You will be adding the Col du Var (2,111 metres) and Col de la Bonette (2,715 metres) to your collection from this trip. The road book first guides you through the Combe du Queyras canyon into the valley, then at Guillestre the route runs uphill to Vars; past blooming alpine meadows and light green larch forests. The route over the Col de La Bonnet is 2,700 metres above sea level and is the highest passable road in the Alps. Even in midsummer, snow fields lie on the remote, bare mountain slopes. The contrast to the fashionable hustle-and-bustle of the Côte d’Azur, which you will reach in the afternoon, could not be greater. Your trip ends in Nice, where you can extend your stay individually or begin your journey back home.
Price: 2,195 Euro p.p.
All current dates are fully booked.
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For over 125 years, unique innovations and timeless elegance have ensured that the three-pointed star of Mercedes-Benz is pointing towards the future. In the first half of the 19th century, the lifetime achievements of two personalities – Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz – revolutionised the history of the car, laying the foundations for individual mobility. Ever since, ingenious engineers have been coming up with revolutionary inventions time and time again. Take the SL sports car for example, a fascinating success story from Mercedes-Benz, which, since its introduction, has become legendary. With its own special character and charm, it’s the number one dream car and luxury roadster of all time, even after more than 60 years. Two letters have rarely gained such charisma. The abbreviation SL, synonymous with “sporty and light”, could, thanks to the roadster’s sophisticated design, pioneering technology and how pleasurable it is to drive, equally refer to “superior living”. With its classic car trips, Classic Car Travel brings the legendary SL to life with maximum pleasure behind the wheel and a passion for tradition.
The charm of the classic car doesn’t only start once you’re behind the wheel. When almost a dozen SLs are lined up, shining in the sun, your eyes will already light up. Spring 1963: return to the era when the W 113 was introduced. Its hardtop, which curves inwards slightly, is reminiscent of the type of roof that pagodas have in the far east, and is what gives this SL series its characteristic name “Pagoda”. With both the W 113 and its successor, the R 107, it’s impossible not to be transported back to the golden seventies, when luxury class was a term used in the automotive industry to describe people who had “made it”. Feelings of nostalgia are conjured up as soon as you hold the ignition key to one of these legendary SLs in your hand. But don’t get in just yet. First of all, transform your roadster into an open-top convertible. The handy stowage space for the roof under the bonnet, painted the same colour as the body of the car, will get you warmed up.
Now it’s time: it won’t start at the push of a button; you turn the ignition key – a magical moment – the engine starts up slowly, and is soon screaming out for you to take it out for a spin. Wonderful: you take in the round, analogue elements. Be it the chrome jewel gear shifting gate with its delicate Bakelite knobs in the Pagoda or the cherished root wood inlay in the cockpit of the R 107, the chrome-plated ventilation elements or the snappy wipers on the headlights: as a driver behind the wheel of this SL, there’s one thing that will really strike you: absolute control.
This feeling will stay with you whilst you drive, when the six-cylinder engine powers up. These vehicles continue to impress not only their passengers, but also passers-by. After just a few miles, you’ll notice how people like you and “your” Mercedes-Benz. Strangers will wave at you. Other vehicles on the road will forget the hustle and bustle around them for a moment and greet you by flashing their lights; other drivers will even give way to you. And suddenly you’ll remember how bends used to feel, that ascending and descending take some concentration when driving. By now you’ve enjoyed an original driving experience that you’d previously deemed lost. Welcome to the world of classic cars. With Classic Car Travel, you’ll manage to square the circle: to slow down whilst driving. You won’t need to worry about anything, thanks to the Mediterranean sun at your destinations, the wind in your hair, carefully selected picture-postcard routes and an all-inclusive package with Classic Car Travel.
MERCEDES-BENZ 280 SL (W 113) – THE SPORTY, LIGHT PAGODA
How do you get highly accomplished power deployment and impressive elegance under one roof? Engineers and designers solved this problem with flying colours in the spring of 1963. The SL W 113, successor to the legendary 190 SL and 300 SL super sports car, was introduced and was, from then onwards, known to its fans as the “Pagoda”. It effortlessly balances the comfort of a touring saloon with the liveliness of a sports car, and is, to this day, the most elegant and desirable convertible for anyone who appreciates the simple elegance and spirit of the sixties. Hollywood stars such as Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra loved this classy car.
MERCEDES-BENZ 300 SL (R 107) – THE STAR AMONGST STARS
In April 1971, a new SL finds its way to people’s hearts: the 300 SL (R 107). The roadster presents itself as powerful and prestigious, having been given a removable roof by its creators. Under its long bonnet, an eight-cylinder engine roars into life for the first time. In fact, the R 107 really belongs to the German movement of 1968, as the ultimate decision to create it was made on 18 June 1968. In Hollywood, Dallas and the Königsallee in Düsseldorf, stars, celebrities and nobility sauntered around the streets in this elegant car. Plenty of chrome and distinctive bumpers and window frames give the vehicle a self-confident, sovereign look. The R 107 quickly became a bestseller. In addition to the comfort typical of a Mercedes-Benz, a number of small details make life with this car a real pleasure. Charming detail: the rechargeable torch built into the glove compartment.
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