I had left my Ferrari F355 Berlinetta in the south of France for a couple of months following my road trip through Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. I had been really missing having it during the summer months and the prospect of the drive back through France was fairly mouth-watering, particularly as I had included Route Napoleon in the itinerary. First though, I wanted to ensure that the car was running without issue after two months without use and luckily for me the Col de Vence was only a few miles from where I was staying.
The Col de Vence is a road that will be familiar to readers of evo magazine as a favourite place for group tests. It is certainly a challenging road, with frequent blind corners and hairpins to catch out the foolish. But it is a fun road as well, particularly if you are willing to do a few runs and learn the corners better.
At first it climbs inland through an endless array of hairpins over quite barren landscape. The views are great, particularly when you catch a glimpse of the bright blue Mediterranean behind you. The fun really begins when it levels out a little and the road opens up with more straights and better sighted corners. It dips down through tree-lined hills and passes sheer rock faces; sometimes the landscape seems perfectly designed for deflecting the sound of the car right back at you. You have to beware of the few other motorists and the eager cyclists but for much of the time the road seems deserted.
I took it pretty easy but still enjoyed myself. The Ferrari seemed ideal for these roads, particularly compared with the Bentley Continental GTC that I once tried down here which was simply too wide. That said, a good hot hatch would have been as much, if not more fun than my F355.
I stopped at Chateau Saint Martin for a drink on the way back down. It's pricey but the building, grounds and views are all stunning and I can recommend it. The car ran perfectly and all that was left to do was enjoy the sunshine for a couple of days before heading north via Grenoble, Dijon and Reims.