French & Italian Alps Road Trip (Best Places To Visit)
If you're looking for a great road trip the French and Italian Alps are a must! Check out my recommendations on the best hiking, climbing, and food.
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Europe15 days / August 2019
Highs & Lows
Picnic on L'Alpe d'Huez. The vibrant colors in downtown Briançon. Hearty home-cooked meal at the Levi Molinari Refuge.
Accidentally visiting Turin, Italy on a religious holiday. Everything was closed!
In summer 2019, my partner Lucie and I completed our own version of Le Tour de France. After spending two weeks visiting family near Bordeaux, we set our GPS for the Alps.
Our itinerary starts near the mid-sized city of Grenoble before winding through small mountain villages making stops in Brançon, Turin, and Gap. Highlights of the region include a plethora of outdoor activities and scenic alpine views along with French bread, local cheeses, and fresh Italian cuisine.
Choosing to sleep in a tent not only allowed us to travel on an incredibly low budget, but it also gave us the freedom to explore without being tied down to a set location. Our only regret was not crossing up into Switzerland...it's very expensive, and the weather in the Swiss Alps can be unpredictable in the summer!
Q & A
Anything go wrong during the trip?
Accidentally visiting Turin, Italy on a religious holiday. Almost everything outside the touristic city center was closed! After walking around downtown, we hopped in the car and drove a few miles to eat dinner at a highly reviewed family-owned restaurant. Unfortunately, we found a giant 'closed for the ENTIRE month of August for vacations' sign hanging in the window. As we were scrambling to find anything open to eat dinner (it was already 9pm), the restaurant owner just happened to walk by! He realized what had happened and immediately called his favorite pizza place to make sure it was open. Talk about good luck!
How was the food?
Our favorite meal in France was at La Bolée in Guillestre. This restaurant serves food typical from the province of Alpes-Côte d'Azur. In Italy, the Levi Molinari Mountain Refuge definitely took the award for best meal! After a long day of hiking, they served us a hearty dinner of polenta, sausage stew, beef in wine sauce, and homemade fruit and chocolate pie for dessert. It was no surprise the food was so good when they told us all of the ingredients were local! By far one of our most memorable moments of the entire trip!
What tips would you give a friend?
Don't forget to bring a rain jacket. Summer storms can roll in with little warning in the high mountains!
When in doubt, pack light! After cramming our car full of climbing gear, camping gear, clothes, food, cooking supplies, and work essentials, there was barely enough room left for us...Talk about a headache when you have to play 'Tetris' every morning before heading off and every night before bed.
If you rent a car, make sure you get an automatic if you aren't 110% comfortable driving with a stick shift. Even some of the roads connecting larger towns can have steep inclines and aggressive curves!
We got caught in a summer thunderstorm just after reaching the cliffs on the Montagne de Céüse. Talk about a muddy hike down after spending over an hour hiding under a giant rock. Thank goodness we had packed rain jackets that day!