New Expo Highlights Route des Grandes Alpes

An exhibition at the route’s northern starting point highlights the nearly 700km ‘Route des Grandes Alpes’, from ‘the graceful shores of Lake Geneva to the sunny shores of the French Riviera’.

Also, a new Airstream within a few minutes of Venice, but it ain’t cheap. Germany attempts to get its electric car target back on track. The large rise in unaccompanied trailers crossing the Channel may be down to a shortage of drivers.

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NEW EXPO HIGHLIGHST ROUTE DES GRANDES ALPES

From Lake Geneva to the French Riviera along the Alpine ridge.

Col du Lautaret. Départ des autocars du chalet du P.-L.-M., 1922 Négatif sur verre, 13 × 18 cm. BnF/Agence Rol

Col du Lautaret, 1922. Photo via Maison Garibaldi

From ‘the graceful shores of Lake Geneva to the sunny shores of the French Riviera’ via sixteen mountain passes, six of them higher than the magic 2000m.

Touring Club de France first laid plans for the Route des Grand Alpes in 1896 with drivers able to use it from 1909.

The entire 684km route was finally inaugurated in July 1937 by President of the Republic Albert Lebrun on top of the freshly completed Col de l’Iseran (2770m).

Town archive Maison Gribaldi in Evian Les Bains, the original starting point on the southern shore of (French) Lake Geneva, is holding an exhibition of 200 Route des Grandes Alpes artefacts.

As well as photographs and Pathe news reels, the exhibition features a large collection of advertising posters.

In the early days, most people experienced the journey from the seat of a bus.

It’s incredible to think that mountain passes which are scary enough today with modern roads, and modern brakes, were happily driven by thousands in large rickety vehicles with – at best – shin height barriers.

Then, as now, the views make it all worth it.

The classic, original route starts in Evian-les-Bains followed by Cols des Gets (1170m), la Colombière (1613m), des Aravis (1486m), Les Saisies (1633m), Cormet de Roselend (1968m), de l’Iseran (2764m), le Télégraphe (1.570m) and du Galibier (2677m), Lautaret (2058m), l’Izoard (2360m), Vars (2111m), Cayolle (2327m), Croix de Valberg (1700m), Couillole (1678m), Saint-Martin (1604m) and Turini (1.607m) before arriving in Menton.

These days the entire route is signposted with white on brown ‘Route des Grandes Alpes’ posts for ease of navigation.

Towns along the way include Morzine, Bourg-St-Maurice, Briancon and Barcelonnette.

Route des Grandes Alpes is reliably open from June to October, local weather conditions permitting.

The exhibition runs until November, admission €3.50 adults, €2.50 children, free under tens.

See more on Route des Grandes Alpes at MoveYourAlps.com or find the roads at PassFinder.

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Airstream aluminium caravans start at €72,775 to buy (+ VAT) so it is no surprise that Italy’s first holiday park devoted to the iconic American trailer works out a bit pricey too. Even so gobs were smacked to hear the per night prices at Camping Ca' Savio near Venice begin at €125 (and go up to €180). Okay, that includes a tent for the kids, an awning and wooden deck with table and chairs - and bed linen, towels and air conditioning - all ‘a few steps’ from the beach. But there’s a minimum three night stay plus a €45 cleaning charge. Having said all that, the site is just an hour’s drive from Venice, or 5km from a water taxi which drops near the Doge’s Palace after a 40 minute ride according to Glossy Glamping.

Airstream caravans start at €72,775 to buy (+ VAT) so it is no surprise that Italy’s first holiday park devoted to the iconic aluminium American works out a bit pricey too. Even so gobs were smacked to hear the per night prices at Camping Ca’ Savio near Venice begin at €125 (and go up to €180). Okay, that includes a tent for the kids, an awning and wooden deck with table and chairs – and bed linen, towels and air conditioning – all ‘a few steps from the beach’. But there’s a minimum three night stay plus a €45 cleaning charge. Having said all that, the site is just an hour’s drive from Venice, or 5km from a water taxi which drops at the Doge’s Palace after a 40 minute ride says Glossy Glamping.

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roundup: GERMANY. A new €1 billion plan has been unveiled to kick start the electric car market. Buyers get €4000 towards the price of a pure electric car or €3000 towards a hybrid, allocated on a first come first served basis, and will be exempt from motoring taxes for ten years. Vehicles costing more than €60,000 are excluded. The long-time target has been 1 million EVs on the road by 2020 though with just 25,500 registered currently – and 135,000 hybrids – according to DW.de, the country will miss it by a wide margin. Meanwhile, some €300 million is reserved to build a network of 15,000 charging stations by 2020 says a release from the Transport ministry. A third will be fast chargers along autobahns and the rest regular chargers at shopping centres and the like. To put this in context, however, according to EU figures, the neighbouring Netherlands already has 18,600 chargers in place. CHANNEL FREIGHT. According to new figures from the UK DfT Department for Transport, the number of ‘goods vehicles’ crossing to the Continent fell by 1 percent in the twelve months to March – though that is still higher than the pre-Credit Crunch peak in 2007. Within that, the number of HGVs fell by 3 percent while the number of unaccompanied trailers increased by 6 percent. Foreign registered HGVs were also down 1 percent – ‘a change in direction to the long term upward trend that has been seen since 2009,’ says the DfT (though numbers did decline slightly 2011-2012 before recovering). Meanwhile, the number of UK-registered HGVs fell by 12 percent taking the share of domestic cross-Channel trucks down to 12 percent (from 13 percent in the year to September). The peak share of UK trucks was 52 percent in 1996. The DfT says the rise in the number of unaccompanied trailers may be due to the shortage of drivers in the UK.

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