Hunting Passes in a Toyota and Renault
Our road trips begin and end in the Savoie region of the French Alps, which borders Italy, with our goal being to describe and explore iconic passes and rally stages in the Alps, over a few one-day trips of about 250-300kms each.
The drives have been special because we’ve been exploring some of the most beautiful mountain roads in Europe, starting in our home region and slowly expanding outward. We’re a couple of brothers, the younger in the older car (1991 Toyota MR2) and the older brother in the newer car (2010 Renault Clio 3 RS 2) and we document these trips on our site, Pass Hunters.
Fortunately, we’ve never encountered any trouble except a memory card failure and some very premature tire wear. But the scenery in these passes is incredible and we love both driving fast on those exciting roads, and the difference in our two cars’ styles.
For our first road trip featured on our site, Pass Hunters, we encountered a beautiful classic car rally from the UK, with of course some cops doing speed controls in a small village. Now, we aim to hit the passes at their opening, because the roads are still deserted and bordered by huge walls of snow.
We’ve also come to understand that as soon as you hit the road you must expect anything to happen: like a British cyclist on the wrong side of the road in a blind corner, a lorry lost in a downhill taking up the entire road in a hairpin as you arrive with “good rhythm”, checking your brother’s cars’ tires and laughing because they are totally worn down, before realizing that yours are too.
Another time, the Clio was at a technical control just a few days before heading out on a road trip, when a brake hose melted in the garage disabling the brakes. The hose moved out of its placement and was almost touching the engine. It could have happened in a downhill with consequences we don’t want to imagine.
There have been some disappointments too, though. Usually, we take a salad or a snack (composed simply of bread and a local specialty, the Diot de Savoie, regional sausage that can be dried or cooked made of varying ingredients) with us. It allows us to eat whenever and wherever we want. Which means by the side of a lake as often as possible. You just have to be sure to not store it in the MR2’s trunk, which gets very hot from the engine, especially in summer.
However, once, we wanted to eat a genuine Italian pizza, so we went to Courmayeur, but it was one of the many religious public holidays here. As you may know, Italy is a deeply traditional country so we had to go to the only open pizzeria. Even if the pizze were gigantic and quite good, the price was as high as the pizze were big and we discovered than unlike in France, you also have to pay for water and the use of knives and forks (Courmayeur is a city near the border, and is actually more of tourist trap)!
We try to combine mountain passes and lakes when we plan our road trips, as much as possible, but don’t really have a favorite place or scenic spot yet. However, every pass linking France to Italy has been truly stunning, so far. We can’t wait to run Swiss ones.
Last summer, we went to Italy to drive an iconic hillclimb road: the Susa-Moncenisio, to discover a few weeks later that a part of the live action trailer for the video-game Forza Horizon 2 had been filmed there.
For driving pleasure, we really love the Cormet de Roselend, which is only a few kilometers from home and is a truly exciting road (if the traffic is light) with beautiful scenery.
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