We sat in our Turin hotel in Italy and wondered, just before bedtime, where next? We had our Hertz rental car, our Bike Friday Tikit and Moulton foldies in the car, and no plans for the next few days. Looking at the map of north Italy, I spied a mountain range… in France.
Just above the seaside city of Nice, was the Mercantour National Park, one of the nine National Parks of France. About 45km from Nice, was little mountain town of Roure, in south-east France.
"Let's go there! We can hike in France!"
So off we drove, making a stop at the Italian factory outlet stores near Turin to look for presents for our families, before reaching Roure. Crossing the French border was painless but we did encounter some challenging driving up the mountain roads, especially when it got higher and the road narrowed to one lane. Yes, you do have to be careful going up a winding mountain single-lane road. Also it was raining.
But the drive was worth it. We reached there before the sky got dark and settled into our lodge, a place called Auberge le Robur, run by Pauline and Christoph Billau. And oh my goodness, the VIEW.
Even in the rain and the fog, the view was stupendous. And we were in time for dinner (it is also a well-regarded restaurant).
So, with a three-course set menu of home-made French cuisine, and a killer view of the foggy mountains, Ryan and I tucked in. This is the asparagus starter, and below is the main course of veal confit.
We went for a walk after that and it felt like we were walking in an old French movie.
In the morning, the view was even better.
We hiked around a bit, then when the rain got a little heavier, we drove for an hour to the next town, St Martin Vésubie, to have some late lunch.
I think this was the coldest part of the trip, with temperatures reaching single digit degrees Celsius. We came prepared with warm clothing so it was totally manageable.
We must have been the only Chinese fellas for miles around. Plus it was off-peak season so there were not many tourists. Pauline told us over breakfast (French toast and awesome cheeses anyone?) last year, she had a Singapore couple who got lost in the mountain roads trying to drive to her place and it was almost midnight. So she got them a place nearer where they were by calling another innkeeper because she didn't want them driving in unlit mountain roads late at night.
I guess we have to thank our capable GPS for getting us there safely. We also made sure we gave ourselves sufficient time to drive there from Italy, so we would reach Roure before nightfall. Always a wise thing to do when you are driving on unfamiliar roads in a foreign country.