Swiss Trip 2005
The Swiss Trip was a double event where members of the Warwickshire group organized a touring holiday that joined up with Swiss Lotus 7 Club for their annual meeting for the central part of the holiday.
Setting off from Dover the trip took us through eight countries in as many days. This included France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Germany. Belgium & back to UK.
Setting off from Dover to Boulogne early in the morning we headed towards Compiegne and through the forests where we had lunch at the Hotel De L'Abbaye in the medieval Village of Longpont (A favorite stopping point from previous years French Trips).
After Lunch we headed East through the Champagne region and the ‘Parc Regional de la Montagne de Reims’. Famous for its oaks, chestnuts, deer and wild boar. On the eastern edge of the forest is the famous Faux de Verzym an extraordinary group of beech trees whose twisted and distorted trunks that are a result of some local genetic variation.
After Lunch we headed off towards the South East following the river to Chalons, on to Vitry-le-Francois, around the western side of the Lac du Der Chantecoq and on to Joinville for that nights hotel.
The route took us East from Joinville through the heart of the Lorraine. Passing through the village of Domremy-la-pucelle, which is the village where Joan of Arc was born in 1412 represents one of the major tourist attractions in Western Vosges.
While stopping off at Domremy-la-pucelle we had a look around the house where Joan of Arc was born, which was bought in 1818 and classified as a historic monument in 1840 and the church next door.
Then half kilometers from the village we visited the Basilica of Bois Chenu. Begun in 1881 that it is built on the spot where Joan heard her " voices ". It is floodlit every evening, and majestically dominates the valley of the Meuse. The inside was stunning and had tapestries depicting scenes from events in Joan of Arcs life.
From Domremy-la-pucelle we head west to the autoroute N57 E23 just above Epinal to get a little distance under our belts. Turning southwards on the N57 E23 past Epinal, through the Forest de Fossard & Forest de Longegoutte to the town of St Maurice. Here the roads look fantastic as we hit the Ballon d’ Alsace through the Parc Naturel Regional Des Ballons Des Vosges. On the map the road Squiggles more than a drunken chimpanzee with a crayon.
We then head in towards the town of Mulhouse where we visited the Schlumpf Collection otherwise known as the Bugatti Museum where we spent over a hour have a look around a very impressive car collection. They even had a Lotus 7 in black.
From here sadly you hit the autoroute to Switzerland. Then down to Shotz where everyone meets up at Fredy & Elizabeth Kumschick’s Sports Car Garage for the start of the Swiss Lotus 7 Clubs annual meeting.
A great drive down through Brunig over the Grimselpass to Fiesch. The views while driving up and over the Grimselpass were stunning.
In Friesch we checked into that nights hotel and joined the others for a mass BBQ.
Before heading off on that days route we headed up in a cable car to the top of the ‘Eggishorn’ (2926m) which I am told you get some great views of the Aletschgletscher (Glacier) and the Eiger (at 3970m), Monch (at 4107m) and the Jungfrau (at 4158m). But when we went the summit was covered in clouds.
Took us back to the Grimselpass and on through the Furkapass, valleys surrounded by mountains and finally the Grimselpass before arriving at the Hotel Steffani in St Moritz for a big meal with all the other people attending the Swiss Meeting. The roads through the mountain were unbelievable and worth buying a sports car purely to drive these roads.
Was the end of the Swiss meeting and we were back to our own trip again. We headed out of St Moritz towards Italy passing through the pass del Bernina, up to Livigno, through the Pass d’Eira & di Foscagno to Bormio and on to drive the Stelvio Pass.
The Stelvio Pass is famous for its part in the opening scenes of the film The Italian Job, as a Lamborghini Miura snakes up the pass. It is also where Lotus put the series 1 Elise through its paces to refine the suspension set up. You don’t get much better proving ground than this.
After lunch on top of the stelvio pass we head down the other side of the mountain making our way to that nights hotel in Gargellen, Austria. While on route part of our journey was on a private toll road, The Pass Silvretta - Hochalpen - Streasse that we had all to ourselves. The only other user on the road was a cow blocking our way.
We received a good welcome when we arrived at the Hotel Madrisa in Gargellen and was given a round of free drinks.
Setting off from Gargellen, leaving Austria, we passed through Liechtenstein, and headed up to Schaffhausen to the Rhienfalls where we stopped for lunch on the north west bank looking out onto a view of the falls. After lunch we had a quick boat trip to the falls and stopped at a large rock formation the separated the falls into two.
After Lunch we will head across the south western tip Germany passing through the Black Forrest. Leaving Germany we re-entered France again in the Mulhouse area to that nights hotel in Cernay. A former coach house dating back to 1910, situated at the foot of the Vosges on the Alsace Wine Trail.
Today’s offering of great roads took us through 40 miles the vosges Parc Naturel Region, Grand Ballon with in 5 minutes of leaving the hotel. More great 7 roads on rolling countryside with some great viewpoints and pretty Villages.
Towards the end of the Ballons there are the villages Wangenbourg and Dabo, Wangenbourg has a castle ruin up on the hillside and Dabo has a nice church on its own on a hill.
It was then on to the Auto Route to get a bit of distance out of the way as we headed to Verdun and the WW1 battle fields to the north of the town. In 1916 the French fought a bitter battle against the Germans where there was an estimated 700,000 dead, wounded and missing. A lot of the area remains untouched. The battle has left a lot of scars on the battlefield the ground is like a moon landscape because of all the craters made by bombs etc.
The quickest of visits to the Cemetery and the trench systems that is still visible today.
After Verdun we headed off towards Montmedy, Florenville and Bouillon. Where we picked up some more good roads as we head to that nights hotel in Montherme.
After breakfast we set of from Montherme we blasted our way to Boulogne for the ferry back to England.
What a trip!
Story and Pictures By Jamie Jones
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