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4 days between Villefranche and Aosta Valley- best routes and villages to stay in heading north

We would like to spend some time driving through the eastern region of France through the regional parcs. This will be mid May, so realize snow may be an issue. Thinking staying outside Briancon might be a good spot for a couple of nights.

However looking at our very detailed map, most roads in Mercantour are all switchbacks. I’ve driven the Fijords and the Almalfi, so am not afraid of winding roads. But it is also tiresome and nice to keep it to just a couple of hours in a day. Mix in some hiking and lunches at great little inns.

I’m finding it very difficult to find much information on routes, places to stay, etc.

Although we typically like at least two nights in a stop, perhaps this is a trip where we need to stop one night in 4 places to keep the driving down to a manageable length everyday.

Any thoughts on this and/or good guide book? We are mid-60’s seasoned travelers.

Posted by
237 posts

Yes, looks like the drive to Briançon can be done in 4 hours but that’s just going straight there. We would like to meander and enjoy and stay someplace in between.

Posted by
237 posts

Oh and we are going north from Briançon to Cogne, Italy for a couple of nights and then to Chamonix for two. Finally Annecy.

Posted by
24823 posts

Check weather stats for Annecy ( if you're considering non-air-conditioned lodgings. It can be surprisingly hot there.

Posted by
6065 posts

I'm not particularly heat sensitive but I wouldn't worry about AC in May in Annecy.
If you want to break the journey, you could do:
- Villefranche S M - Castellane area, where you can stay for 2 nights and visit the amazing Verdon Gorge (no snow in May)
- Castellane area - Briançon area for 2 nights. Be sure to make to to Oratoire du Chazelet, an amazing lookout point.
- Briançon - Cogne via Montgenevre and highway around Turin

The passes between the Mercantour area and the rest of the Alps can still be closed Mid-may, especially Bonnette pass, the highest and most convenient of them. Hence my thought of a more westerly route via the Verdon.

Posted by
237 posts

Thanks, Balso. we were already planning to stay 2 nights at the Verdon Gorge on our way to Villefranche SM from St. Remy. Sounds like we are going to be too early in the season for much driving off the main highways anywhere in the Alps. Perhaps we just add that day either staying on the coast or in Briancon.