Paris to Provins

Provins to Dijon

Dijon to Montbeliard

Montbeliard to Obernai

Obernai to Pont-A-Mousson

Pont-A-Mousson to Epernay

Epernay to Armentieres

Armentieres to Ieper

Ieper to Paris


Paris to Amboise

Amboise to Angers

Angers to Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel to Arromanches

Arromanches to Brezolles

Brezolles to Paris

Paris to Pruzilly

Pruzilly to Chamonix

Chamonix to Cueno, Italy

Cueno to Antibe

Antibe to Cuges Des Pins

Cuges Des Pins to Pont Du Guard

Pont Du Guard to Mende

Mende to Paris

Paris to Auckland via Hong Kong

Tour Costs


Contact Us

Bratts Website Homepage

Chamonix Mont BlancChamonix Mont BlancChamonix Mont BlancAnonymous building in ItalyAnonymous building in Italy

DAY 19 - Mt Blanc to Italy 23/10/2007

Today we drove under Mont Blanc through the 20km tunnel which is famous for a truck catching fire and several lives being lost. However I watched the video after this trip and had no idea of the safety tips from the roadside signs or the leaflet they give us. They did however appear to be taking every precaution as trucks were rigorously checked for something before they were allowed through the tunnel.

We popped out in Italy, not tourist Italy, but indescribable Italy. We spent the first hour going through more tunnels and then experienced Italians at their best. We are either now on Interpol’s most wanted list or Avis got a big fine for our lack of Italian... At the end of the tunnels there was a toll booth with barrier arms. None of the signs were in English so we temporarily parked while we tried to figure out what to do next. Meanwhile a man in a fluoro vest and a flag waved us into a lane but the barrier arm didn’t go up. Another man came out of the booth and made some hand signals at us from a distance and after no acknowledgment from us, that we knew what he was on about, he went inside for a piece of paper and waved that at us. We waved back with our safety leaflet and any other paper we had in the van. He conceded and upped the barrier arm but meanwhile another man came on the scene and yelled in Italian at us and chased after the van as we made our quick getaway. Roger thought it might have been an aggressive welcome like a Haka.

Things didn’t get any better, we drove through half an hour of road works in some dirty city that didn’t seem to welcome tourists and finally hit a motorway that had lots of signs warning of shops, but we never came to them. Any town we did come to appeared to be shut for a four hour lunch. There were lots of old buildings but Italian isn’t as easy as French to second guess what you are letting yourself in for and the Italians don’t make any attempt to speak or understand English. The biggest town we went through was Torino and it was busy and risky. Cars, trams and buses came at us from all directions, at great speed and would then just stop and park half out on the road. On the motorways you are only allowed to do 50kms per hour which is understandable because you can only pass a car when you see one coming the other way. For all their bad driving we didn’t see any accidents, it is like they are prepared for everybody else to be a lunatic driver.

Torino has petrol stations for one car only in the traffic island-mediam strip. At 3.00pm the daytime prostitutes were on every corner and if discretion is more your thing or you don’t like to bring your car into the city the prostitutes are even out in the country on the edge of the agriculture fields. However you must like them dark, chunky and ugly. One bag swinger managed to get herself a client in an Audi as we passed by. We continued on in search of food and gave up at 4.30pm settling for a small town that looked closed but we noticed people going into dark uninviting shops. We entered a few and were totally ignored. The customers pretended not to notice us and the shop staff disappeared. We finally managed to get somebody to notice us at a tobacco shop that did coffee and alcohol. Kids came in and bought smokes, winos came in and bought one glass of alcohol and left. We got the world’s driest bun and a cup of foul hot chocolate where a milk skin kept forming between sips. Murphy’s law there was a McDonalds 15 minutes down the road. Actually there were only signs, this is Italy, we never saw a McDonalds. We found a campsite and walked into town for a decent feed. We came upon a very flash pizzeria that did white starched linen, crystal and silverware for only 5 Euros a pizza. The menu was in Italian with French subtitles, lucky we are now experts on basic French food translations. Ordering beer was a bit harder, but my Italian Coca Cola was more easily recognisable. We are staying tonight in a paid campsite that does squat toilets and shower nozzle bum cleaners instead of toilet paper. I think this softie with limited clean dry clothes will stick to the van toilet rather than attempting something so foreign and risky. I can’t wait to get back to France and civilisation.

Next page...


Old Anonymous building in ItalyAn old anonymous building in Italy
Anonymous building in ItalyAnonymous building in Italy
Chamonix Mont BlancChamonix Mont Blanc
Chamonix Mont BlancChamonix Mont Blanc
Chamonix Mont BlancChamonix Mont Blanc