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How safe is "Combe Laval Road" or ROUTE DE GENTLY to drive a car?

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Nov 26th, 2014, 10:24 PM
  #1
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How safe is "Combe Laval Road" or ROUTE DE GENTLY to drive a car?

http://www.dangerousroads.org/europe...ad-france.html

We are a family of 4 on a 35 days road trip in France. Two of us are drivers. We are planning to drive our car from Annecy to Nice in 3rd week of May 2015 on "Combe Laval Road" also called as ROUTE DE GENTLY and then on to Route Napoleon to Nice. This route is famous for cycling and motor cycling. It is listed in "Most dangerous Roads" but also most spectacular route in France.
A. Has anyone driven a car on this road?
How safe is it?
I have driven from Las Vegas to Lake Mono and then into Yosemite valley and then on to Monterrey. But this road looks much more breath taking than that.
Will want a first hand report before we embark on this adventure ride.
If we were not to take this route, which route can you suggest/

B. This drive from Annecy to nice is 444 km and takes around 7 hours without a stop.
I intend to leave early by 5.00 am or so. Is it advisable to drive this stretch in 1 day? (with 2 stops- 1 at Sisteron and another at some other place. (pl suggest)
What would be a realistic time to travel this stretch? Is it advisable to have a night halt in between? We are OK with reaching NICE before sundown.
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Nov 27th, 2014, 06:53 AM
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Estimated 444 km and 7 hours are as per google maps. Will also check on viamichelin.com.
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Nov 27th, 2014, 07:18 AM
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We've driven most of the roads in the Vercors. Very scenic - but slow & tiring to drive because of all the curves, turns, and hoping nobody is coming from the other direction while on a narrow section. I would never attempt to drive from Annecy to Nice in 1 day and include this section of slow/winding/narrow roads. We stayed overnight in La Chapelle en Vercors. I would suggest an overnight for you in La Chapelle (see viamichelin for hotel recs) so you can explore this area in the afternoon & also the next morning with a night's rest in between. Then I might try to get to Nice in 1 day.

We've visited Sisteron twice - staying overnight once. We were both under-whelmed with it.

On another trip, we took the Grande Route des Alpes from Nice to Annecy. We stopped in 3 places for the night in between. But there might be a lot of snow in the higher elevations in May. We did this in about the first week of June, and many hotels were not even open yet.

Stu Dudley
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Nov 28th, 2014, 07:43 AM
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That's a good first hand report. What better than it coming from stu himself. I liked your frank opinion about being underwhelmed by Sisteron. The photos really look impressive.

Do you suggest we take this "Combe Laval Road" also called as ROUTE DE GENTLY. Am pasting a report from a Bike rider who has written his travelogue about this ride..
"My heart raced as I pulled up to the wall that was probably no more than 12-14” wide that separate me from a sheer drop of close to 1,000ft to an unquestionable cause of death!
This would be the place of nightmares for the squeamish and in fact this road has been known to be closed to vehicles in certain weather conditions due to numerous deaths over the years.
If you take liberties here it will be your very last mistake!
A fall over the edge here and you are history in the time it takes to free fall nearly 1,000ft ,or more , and if that didn’t introduce you to your maker then the quickly pursuing GS would certainly finish the job off!
Photo of The little curb wall that separates life from death!"

http://www.ukgser.com/forums/showthr...st-Ride-Report

The views are breathtaking. i am in two minds..
This can be crucial.. please help..
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Nov 28th, 2014, 07:53 AM
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Will you have a passenger? If so ask them how they feel about only having a low wall between them and the drop.
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Nov 28th, 2014, 08:00 AM
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We really enjoyed the Vercors. In fact, we're returning there in 2016 & will stay in a gite in Saillans for 1 week.

Drive slow. Don't let the driver get distracted. We survived!!! If anyone is afraid of shear drops - don't go, & take the Route des Grandes Alps instead.

Near Nice, there are some very nice canyons to drive through around Entrevaux - the Gorge de Cians and the Gorge de Daluis.

Stu Dudley
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Nov 28th, 2014, 09:52 AM
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We drove Annecy to Nice in a day, in summer a few years ago. It was not particularly busy. We took turns driving, and stopped somewhere for lunch. It was not a problem at all, and we left Annecy at about 9 am if I remember correctly.

I wouldn't leave at 5 am; unless you usually get up at that time. You don't want to drive those roads while tired.
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Nov 28th, 2014, 10:05 AM
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Tulips - what route did you take??? Through the Versors, Route des Grande Alpes, A41/A51 Autoroute?? It makes a difference....

Stu Dudley
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Nov 28th, 2014, 11:58 AM
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How old are your passengers? How do they feel about it? Are you giving them a choice? Will they get the same kick out of sitting in a car for such a long drive as the drivers? How much enjoyment will they get from the dramatic views after a few minutes? Will they feel trapped?

Sounds like a great drive for a single guy or couple who wants adventure, not so much for a family.
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Nov 28th, 2014, 01:11 PM
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According to ViaMichelin, the fastest route (in France) is all Autoroute and goes by Chambery, Grenoble, Valance, into Provence and on to Nice. I've driven on all those Autoroutes - several segments multiple times. I think that route would be quite boring for the drivers & family. It takes 6 hrs without any stops - so perhaps 7 1/2 hrs with pottie stops, backups at toll roads, gas, "deviations" (impossible to avoid), and lunch somewhere. No stops for sightseeing.

Assuming the OP knows his passengers, I would either do the Vercors/Combe Laval with an overnight in La Chapelle en Vercors if the "team" is OK with heights, or the Route des Grande Alpes with an overnight in historic Briancon (highest city in Europe) if heights/shear-drops bothers anyone. In May, check the weather for the route through Bonneval sur Arc/Val de Isere & skip it if the weather looks "iffy" (take the autoroute from Albertville to St Jean de Maurienne). In about 2005, we took this route from Nice to Annecy and stopped overnight in Embrun, Briancon, a swing over to Chamonix, and Annecy. We did a lot of sightseeing along the way (castles, villages, waterfalls, etc). We've also stayed in a Gite in Embrun for 1 week, Briancon for 1 week, and Annecy for 2 weeks, and Entrevaux for 1 week.

Stu Dudley
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Nov 29th, 2014, 12:18 PM
  #11
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Stu, hetismij2, Tulips, Sassafrass- thanks for all the encouragement.It feels good that you guys have done it.

Me and my wife are 50-both drivers- and our daughters are 21 and 18.
I showed the pictures of Come laval Road and youtube videos to my elder daughter, who is quite adventurous, and she was very excited about it. she feels "what is the point of going so close and not doing it"
After reading all your posts and after seeing minimum 10 youtube videos, I have decided that we will go for it.
This is undoubtedly one of the best, scenic and breathtaking routes in the world and we don't want to miss it.
We will follow stu's advice and go slow and also take a stopover. ( I have not booked this night between ANNECY and NICE and would like to keep it open and will stop where we feel from within. We shall carry names of the places STU has suggested)
We are used to starting at 5 am when we go on a long journey. We sleep early on the night before that to ensure that we get around 6.30 to 7 hours of sleep. It's bright daylight by that time in France and we love to get those early quiet hours without traffic on the roads at least for the 1st 2 or 3 hours.
Stu, i am not fascinated by the photos of La Chapelle en Vercors.
Plus it is about 190 km from Annecy. I would like to cover min 2/3rd distance out of 450 odd km on day 1 and be closer to Nice.
Can you suggest some place that's is around 300 km from Annecy.
Sisteron is around 310 km.
Thanks everyone for all the concern and help.
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Nov 29th, 2014, 12:32 PM
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If there is a wall between you and the drop off and you drive carefully you should be fine.

The one that scared me was driving north from Stresa along Lake Maggiore to Switcz. The southern part is fine, road is near lake level and there is land between the road and the lake. The problem was further north - when the road became elevated and there was practically no land - and definitely no wall - between the road and the drop off. At one point we met a tour coach coming the other way and it was well into our lane. We just stopped and stayed there and he had to move closer to the rock wall to get past. But I was not a happy camper - being the passenger - and seeing only about 2 feet of land - lined with DRIVEWAY REFLECTORS - between me and the drop off to the lake far below
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Nov 29th, 2014, 01:08 PM
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Paragkash,

Want to clarify. I have not done that particular route.

My questions and caution were only from the miserable experience of doing a few roads where I did not know ahead what it would be like and was trapped in the car with no options for escape. I used to be only white knuckled, but now it is so much worse. People who have not experienced this terror can not understand. I practically want to go ahead and leap over the edge to end the agony. A couple of attacks of vertigo has not helped.

Now, I try to learn what a road will be like and how long it will be to decide if I can comfortably endure it and it will be worth it.

Least you think I am simply a fearful old person, I absolutely love hot air ballooning, would fly over almost anything. If there was some way to stay up and sleep in one, I would probably do it. I will go on ships and boats anywhere and actually enjoy stormy weather on the ocean. It is just high, curvy roads that do me in, and I felt that you would not want anyone with you to have a bad time.

Your girls will probably really enjoy it and you are a young and fit driver. Have a wonderful time! Take some good pic!
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Nov 29th, 2014, 01:10 PM
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>> i am not fascinated by the photos of La Chapelle en Vercors.<<

There is nothing exciting about it. The "exciting" part is that it's in the Vercors. That should be exciting enough. Do some research about the Vercors. There are some other very scenic drives you can take in the Vercors that are actually continuation roads from the Combe de Laval. Get the Michelin Green Guide for the Alps. We spent an entire day just driving through these scenic canyons. And we returned a couple of years later.

My thought was to drive to the Vercors (2 hrs from Annecy to Pont en Royans), then explore the Vercors, and overnight there. Very few villages in the Vercors - La Chapelle is where we chose to stay (on our second trip to the area). Explore the Vercors more in the morning with the sun in a different prospective. Leave via Die and then it is 4 3/4 hrs to Nice.

However, I agree with your idea of not making reservations. See what your stamina is like when you get there. You could stay in Crest on the exit road to the Vercors (D93). It's an interesting village to explore, has a few hotels, and a Michelin 1 star restaurant. Then it's 4 hrs to Nice via the Autoroute (A7/A8).

We spend 2 months in France every year. Usually 1 month in June & 1 month in Sept. It's really dark at 5am. You don't want it to be so dark when you get there, that you can't see much of the Vercors.

Stu Dudley
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Nov 29th, 2014, 04:00 PM
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Nov 29th, 2014, 09:13 PM
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"It's really dark at 5am"
You are right STU. just checked Sunrise time at Annecy. It's 5.52 am on 24th May. I guess i can start by 5.45 am.
Will study the route further and Vercors too.
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Nov 30th, 2014, 12:50 AM
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I can't remember the exact route, but we followed the Route Napoleon from Grenoble past Gap to Castellane, to arrive at our location near Nice late afternoon.

I don't remember it being scary at all; my husband I me took turns driving. The kids thought the road was way too long and windy.
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