This short clip shows the final couple of minutes as we approach the top of Col de la Bonette before stopping to enjoy the spectacular views.
I want to share a couple of short video clips to give you an idea of the drive up the Col de la Bonette in France. It was truly stunning yet felt so remote that you could have been in almost any country in the world.
This first one is about ten minutes away from the summit, by which point we have already climbed a significant altitude in a short space of time.
In many ways I've been a bit reluctant to write about the final day of driving on this section of the road trip, I think because I was similarly reluctant for the trip to end. It's amazingly exciting to get up every morning and set off on roads you've never travelled to places that you've never been. Doing so in a Ferrari further adds to that feeling and throws in a good dose of adrenaline at times too. It's a car that keeps you on your toes and sucks you into the driving process, seemingly even when you're in the passenger seat.
I had high hopes for the Col de la Bonette, if you'll excuse the pun. As the highest road in Europe it was sure to be spectacular and our excellent experience driving across the Fluela Pass had shown us how good mountain roads could be. By contrast, we had been very disappointed to find that the Stelvio Pass was still shut due to snow and ice on the road and had been some ten days early for its opening. I was sure to do my research properly this time and discovered that the Col was open.
Once you turn off the main road at Jausiers the road quickly starts to climb and, before you know it, you are faced with hairpin after hairpin, with butterfly-inducing drops to the side. It became clear very quickly that this would be no drivers' road and would not compare to the enjoyment of the previous couple of hours from an out-and-out driving perspective. Once you realise that you can just settle back, take it easy and enjoy the spectacular scenery.
It really is stunning up there and, at the time we were there, still very much covered in snow aside from the roads which had been ploughed recently, creating huge glacial-looking banks in sections. You just seem to climb and climb, onwards and upwards, wondering if it is ever going to come to a summit. Of course it does eventually, once you've passed some brave cyclists and the obligatory motorbike parade, the road reaching an altitude of 2,715 metres. There is another small road that goes around the peak and goes a little higher still but it was still snow-covered at the time.
Photos taken and driver switch-over completed and we were soon heading down the other side towards the Cote D'Azur. This section of the road seemed to have been more affected by rocks and gravel having either fallen off the mountain or been carried by melting snow. Either way it meant stopping at least once to move rocks out of the road so that we could continue downwards and back towards some greenery.
Much like earlier in the day, we soon found that the roads on this side of the Col de la Bonette were better for actual driving despite the fact we had assumed they were simply a means to an end. The roads that run past the ski town of Isola and on, down valleys that follow the river Var to the sea were some of the best experienced in the whole trip. They were beautiful, generally well-surfaced, varied and almost deserted. The fact that this route was scattered with tunnels gave us plenty of chance to really enjoy the wailing sound of the F355 as we pushed through each of the gears to 8,250rpm where the car's peak power of 380bhp is delivered.
Before we knew it, we were back amongst the Sunday traffic and seeing signs for places we knew. Thirty minutes later we switched off the engine for the last time and went for a beer.