First time planning a trip - French Alps

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MarkD

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So this is my first time planning a trip alone somewhere i don't know so any advice is welcome, both on the planning tools and the area.

I will travel with my Wife and Daughter (4) in a D3 with roof tent. we have done lots of 4x4 camping at Land Rover shows and other 4x4 events so that side is good, the wife is happy so long as we use the RTT and the daughter loves the camping, outdoors and free space to run around.

days actually exploring on this trip are limited since i only have a week free from work for this, we take a steady drive there and back since i dont want it to be too long a drive for my daughter.

Day 1
the starting point is Camping Le Bois Joli, from there i want to head to Col du Parpaillon and drive the route there, heading south/east. i plan to find a small camping on the route or wild camp around here, either before or after the tunnel depending on the timing. i want to drive some nice routes on the way there too but am yet to to make a plan, i am thinking Gaia might be best for this?

Day 2
I found some nice looking places and routes in Tende so i aim to go here but am i being too ambitious here? maybe if i make it close i can finish up i the morning on day 3? i would quite like to pass Bayasse - Cime de la bonette, lac des sagnes and Fort de Tournoux. again small camping or wild camp

Day 3
i would like to drive some more tracks before taking a coastal road down to our camping place Camping des mures where we will spend a 3 nights, mostly for my wife and daughter.

Any advice is welcome
 

PeterC

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Hi Mark!

Awesome. Good start this!


We where very close to Tende last summer. Close to there you have the "Salt Route" Via del sale in italian. You really should check it out. It's an ancient road used by the Romans to transport salt. Something like 50km of route mostly above 2000m. Awesome views and spectacular scenery.

But all around Tende and La Bridge ( where there is an awesome little simple camping right next to the little river. It's only like 300m from the Centrum. And cheap. I really recommend) all around this area there are so many mountain roads it's unbelievable. You can't go wrong There!

Also, if you need mechanical help there is a really nice guy living right on the entrance to la Brigue from Tende. He helped me out for free last year when I had some brake issues. (If you drive by his house you will see the garden FULL of cool off-road vehicles.) He's not a professional mechanic. Just a off-road lover. Pierre is his name. Really nice and helpful guy who told.me he wants to become.mayor there so that he can develop the off-road tourism in the area.
 

76_overlander

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Be careful with that tunnel Mark. i know small vehicles can go through, but even adventure bikes struggle inside : it is narrow, some rocks have falled from the inner structure and can be hard obstacles, plus even in june they can still be icy (i think Parpaillon is around 2600 meters high). I've read stories about this tunnel saying big vehicles would not pass the test unless scratching the rocks so with the D3 and the RTT... The 500m under the tunnel can turn into some big challenge. Please tell me if you can confirm it is doable. If not, let me help you and find infos for you if you want.
 
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PeterC

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Ok i search for it, we have tons of articles in french forums here so let me get back to you asap :)
I can't wait to see this. Been wanting to do the tunnel for a few years now.

Are there any chances of going around the tunnel if there are problems?
 

76_overlander

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Well it looks like it’s ok for your rig. Height will not be a problem. But in the middle it gets narrower and the big problem of the tunnel is rocks falls so if a big part is down, it’s the end of the road. So yes you will drive through it 99% of the time. All good even if this tunnel looks like the center of the earth or Hell
And no, there is no way to bypass the tunnel if it is closed (which can also happen as they close the big metal doors when water gets too much in the top of the mountain and they are afraid the tunnel collapses).
 
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76_overlander

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that would be great thanks

the below link is where i found out about it, from the entrance it looks big but i guess it could be smaller inside like you say

Col du Parpaillon
Oh you found it on a website called dangerous roads so you already know

Yes the tunnel is legendary and there is a risk. Also for the road as some side (i don’t remember which one it is) wether which way you get into the the tunnel can be very dangerous (not consolidated and parts every year collapse in the valley and the rebuild it with low budgets :)
 
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MarkD

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Well it looks like it’s ok for your rig. Height will not be a problem. But in the middle it gets narrower and the big problem of the tunnel is rocks falls so if a big part is down, it’s the end of the road. So yes you will drive through it 99% of the time. All good even if this tunnel looks like the center of the earth or Hell
And no, there is no way to bypass the tunnel if it is closed (which can also happen as they close the big metal doors when water gets too much in the top of the mountain and they are afraid the tunnel collapses).
thanks for taking the time to look, sounds like good news
 

MarkD

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Oh you found it on a website called dangerous roads so you already know

Yes the tunnel is legendary and there is a risk. Also for the road as some side (i don’t remember which one it is) wether which way you get into the the tunnel can be very dangerous (not consolidated and parts every year collapse in the valley and the rebuild it with low budgets :)
i assume collapse is more likely during winter? hopefully not while i drive there in July?
 

MarkD

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Go for Wikiloc and search for easy tracks, they are Always difficult to us dutchies as there are mountains, hehehe.
I looked at a few of the tracks, not many are ideal, most run from south to north/west and i want to travel the other direction but there are a couple for sure, i plan to tie several parts of the tracks together planning it on Gaia... hopefully
 

Constantin

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Oh you found it on a website called dangerous roads so you already know

Yes the tunnel is legendary and there is a risk. Also for the road as some side (i don’t remember which one it is) wether which way you get into the the tunnel can be very dangerous (not consolidated and parts every year collapse in the valley and the rebuild it with low budgets :)
I drove the Parpaillon in 2017, End of July, and it was wet on the ground, very dark but beside that it is built very solid and it was good to drive - carefully of course.
But you never know how nature works
Here some pics I made in 2017:
IMG_8337.JPGIMG_8339.JPGIMG_8341.JPGIMG_8342.JPGIMG_8344.JPGIMG_8346.JPGIMG_8347.JPG

I don’t know the height. The highest vehicle in our group was a troopy
with lifting roof (sleeping place) and spare wheel on top.
IMG_2510.JPG
 

76_overlander

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Amazing that it was dry here is a good video of the tunnel in july. What is interesting is at 2’14 when you can see what can collapse, on the left side, the brick wall, and then a few seconds after all the upper bricks. This tunnel has been forbidden, then re open, and so on till 2018 when they wanted to close it to vehicles forever. So yep, i think it will happen anytime soon so enjoy it while still possible

 

Constantin

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Amazing that it was dry here is a good video of the tunnel in july. What is interesting is at 2’14 when you can see what can collapse, on the left side, the brick wall, and then a few seconds after all the upper bricks. This tunnel has been forbidden, then re open, and so on till 2018 when they wanted to close it to vehicles forever. So yep, i think it will happen anytime soon so enjoy it while still possible

Collapsed spots: to be seen on my last two pics too...
Or they’ll maintain the tunnel and we’ll have to pay a toll like in the southern part of the border ridge road in Liguria, what’s OK for me (better then closing it totally).
 

76_overlander

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Collapsed spots: to be seen on my last two pics too...
Or they’ll maintain the tunnel and we’ll have to pay a toll like in the southern part of the border ridge road in Liguria, what’s OK for me (better then closing it totally).
Unfortunately, french have not understood they could make money with overlanding tourism. Paying a toll would be great but the motion is more to restrict the area to motorized vehicles. Stupidity at its best : last year they said the tunnel was too dangerous so they would close it for good... but only to rigs and motorbikes... and would still be open for pedestrians and bikes

We really live in a world where everyone wants to find more substance in their lives and (us) find it in Nature but meanwhile access to nature becomes more and more forbidden
 

MarkD

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I drove the Parpaillon in 2017, End of July, and it was wet on the ground, very dark but beside that it is built very solid and it was good to drive - carefully of course.
But you never know how nature works
Here some pics I made in 2017:
View attachment 101531View attachment 101532View attachment 101533View attachment 101534View attachment 101535View attachment 101536View attachment 101537

I don’t know the height. The highest vehicle in our group was a troopy
with lifting roof (sleeping place) and spare wheel on top.
View attachment 101539
That’s great to see, I’m sure I don’t have a height problem then

How was the track each side of it?