Adventures in the marvellous Mini of doom!

Dave Smart

Gorge Du Verdon

I packed up early, preparing to do battle with the gorge, I was almost chased off the camp site by a French guy who wanted the spot I had had with the spectacular view. Looking at my GPS map it was difficult to work out where the Top Gear challenge had taken place, so I battered off up the gorge anyway. It was great fun, but difficult as the views were so fantastic, I stopped often just to enjoy the vista.
The driving was great as the gorge was generally empty other than the odd motor home which, whilst irritating, were usually easily passed.

Eventually I spotted a part of the map where there were two roads separated by little horizontally, but by a lot vertically so I headed for this. The GPS calculated a very long round about route, so I decided to ignore it and go for the direct route. Part way up I realised why the GPS had calculated the long way round, there was a no entry sign, well what was I to do? You guessed it, I carried straight on, I was committed wasn’t I? (or maybe I should have been)

On the way up I met a few cars coming the other way, only one of which looked a little surprised at me going the other way. I.m fairly sure I found the part used in the challenge, more by luck than judgement, but I can’t find the clip again just to make sure.

I’d been checking the tyres on the Mini as I’d been travelling, but after parking on some light coloured stones, I noticed that there was really very little tread left on the front, all the hijinks in these mountains really had taken its toll.
I headed gingerly for Nimes for an overnight stop, intending to head for the magnificent Millau Viaduct the following day.

Once in Nimes I found the local McDonalds and connected to their free WiFi to find a cheap hotel or hostel, the only ones I could find were within the traffic free zone of the city and impossible to get to so I decided to have some dinner and find a spot to use the emergency tent at the side of the road to punish myself for my stupidity at not booking earlier in the day.

Thankfully I had a bit of a brainwave as I left the city, the old faithful Formule 1 hotels, for those of you that aren’t familiar with these, they are very basic rooms with a double bed, single bunk above, TV and a sink, no more no less. Toilets and showers are in the corridor, the bonus is they only cost in the region of €35 per night for up to 3 people.

Keith Adams

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