Fashion, art, cuisine and exquisite architecture are just a few dazzling cultural aspects of France that make the country one of my favourite places on Earth. Most people associate French with Paris, and who can blame them? Paris is the epitome of all things French! But outside the city of love and lights lie unmatchable attractions worth exploring.
Lyon is a great starting point to discover the Rhône, the Alps and Provence. Last year I visited the historic city of Vienne. This time my family and I drove to Col du Galibier; a mountain pass in the southern region of the French Dauphiné Alps near Grenoble. It is the ninth highest paved road in the Alps and the sixth highest mountain pass.
Galibier’s popularity stems from the fact that it is (often) the highest point of the Tour de France. This year marked the 34th time the race has visited this giant of the Alps. We intentionally visited one week before the arrival of the cyclists; otherwise the roads would have been blocked to be reserved for the participants only.
Before driving up the highest point of Galibier, we settled for our French-style picnic amidst sprawling spring flowers and a spectacular view of our surrounding. Sipping on Rose as I take in every inch of the surrounding beauty I couldn’t agree more with Mama Mgeni’s caption on a Photo I had posted on Instagram seconds before. It really felt like any minute Maria Von Trappe would come dancing across the scene singing,’’ the hills are alive’’
I enjoyed watching enthusiastic cyclists battle their way up the mountain, as we rode the scenic route up to Col du Galibier. The crisp air embraced me as I took in the exceptional landscape. Gaia had outdone herself today.
I also realized just how important Tour De France is to both locals and visitors. It was one week before the race and there were already a number of families in their camping vans trying to secure a spot for themselves.
We also passed some quaint mountain villages where life seemed so laid back and chill during the summer. It makes you just want to camp there and let that relaxed essence wash over your big city energies. While in France, a French crepe is a must have, so before we tackled the road back to Lyon we made a pit stop in Le Bourg-d’Oisans and treated ourselves to some delicious chocolate crepes. We had a great time spending the afternoon in this awe-inspiring part of France. Being summer there was very little snow. Just a few patches here and there. Not enough to build a snow man, but I am glad my son, sister and mum got to experience touching the little snow that was there for the first time. It was an afternoon well spent. I am already looking forward to revisiting Col du Galibier, maybe next time when winter is in full bloom.