Who says road trips are just for boys? My friend Lara I are on a mission. A 700 mile mission that will take us from Covent Garden to Mont Blanc with an overnighter in France and we are driving the whole way. Think Thelma and Louise (minus the crime), belly laughs, ludicrous playlists, French Vs Italian gourmet food wars and the stunning slopes of Courmayeur for a spot of skiing. This is how to travel in style, the Grazia way.
1. And we're off...
Thelma and Louise created havoc driving around in a 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible so we thought it only right to choose a set of wheels from the Ford family that would be more suited to the varied terrain we would be covering. Introducing the all-new Tourneo Connect, or as we affectionately named it, “The Beast”. Although we were both a little daunted at its size at first it was a dream to drive. Driving conditions on the never-ending motorway were so were abysmal with treacherous rain and heavy snow when we hit Italy, but the Beast didn’t complain and just powered on through. Which allowed us to concentrate on more important things like coffee, snack stops, cranking up the tunes and taking selfies.
2. Pitstop – Bonjour Troyes!
After jumping on the Eurotunnel first-thing at Folkestone our first big stint of driving was to get from Calais to the Orient Forest Regional Natural Park which is a protected area of woodlands and lakes in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France. Yes, there was champagne when we arrived but the real showstopper were the off-road segways. An unlikely star I know but these things are the most fun you can have on two wheels. We weaved our way through the forest, shot along main roads and ended up on the beach to finish. Even the howling wind and sheeting rain couldn’t dampen our spirits after that.
3. Champagne, darling
That evening we dined in the centre of Troyes, one of the historic capitals of Champagne. Picture a gorgeously romantic town with a maze of narrow, cobbled streets and hidden passageways, multi-coloured rows of timber-framed houses and a collection of Gothic churches. Yep, pretty ruddy gorgeous. We ate at the buzzy L’illustre where we enjoyed a feast of oysters, roasted scallops with sweet potato mash and French beans and brandy soaked pancakes with salted caramel ice cream washed down with plenty of bubbles. Heaven.
The next morning we headed to Troyes covered market to collect a basket full of goodies to see us through the seven hour drive ahead. This place had it all. And the best bit? It was cheap as chips!
4. Hey Mr DJ, Won’t You Turn The Music Up?
Every epic road trip needs a soundtrack and boy did we create some corkers. Judge away but these tracks hauled us out from the grips of motorway monotony syndrome and had us bopping and singing away like loons. Feast your ears on our top 10 songs that raised the roof and turned “The Beast” into the most happenin’ vehicle on the road. Ahem…
5. Ciao Italia!
Yay, we made it! We both felt pretty euphoric as we rocked up to our base for the weekend with 700 miles under our belt, our sense of humours still intact and two days swooshing about on the mountains to look forward to. Our hotel, Auberge de la Maison in the pretty village of Entrèves in Courmayer, was simply gorgeous. Never ending glasses of Prosecco on arrival? Don’t mind if we do. For dinner, the hotel laid on the most sumptuous feast of fondue, ravioli, chicken stew and a fresh fruit tart with alpine ice cream. At this point of our food coma we didn’t even know our own names, let alone have the energy to ask exactly what alpine ice cream was.
6. Coyote Ugly...with Goretex
The resort is at the foot of Mont Blanc so the views are pretty spectacular and with plenty of alpine runs and super quick lifts, Courmayer has got it all going on.
We stopped at La Chaumière for steaming hot pizzas... but then realised carb blow outs are a killer during the afternoon ski - #firstworldproblems
That evening, fearless Italian skidoo drivers whizzed us up a flare lit mountain path to Maison Vielle for another amazing meal. After our coffees, the lights went down and suddenly we were all dancing on the bar. Think Coyote Ugly but with more Goretex and worse dance moves.
7. Home Time
And so our adventure through four countries to the mountains was over. All that was left to do was load up our trusty Tourneo and head to Geneva to catch our flight. You thought we’d drive all the way back? Of course not, we’re Grazia gals after all…