Above: In the Alpes-Maritimes, with the road enlarged
from this image at the bottom of this page. Right: Overlooking
Monaco and other southern French towns: an astonishing view from the Alpine
The best view, a jogger told me as I U-turned out of
a dead-end road on the Alpine route, happened to be from a military installation
and the public wasn't allowed there.
Finding the D2204 is relatively simple. If coming
from Italy, choose the Route Nationale (N7) into Nice (there'll be
signs to the Moyenne Corniche). There is a turn-off to the D2204 on
the right before the Moyenne Corniche. These townsBlausasc,
LEscarèneare along the route. The route also goes
down into Nice.
FAREWELL to the familiarity and comfort of Monaco. The buzz and
the vibrancy are a strong draw but I knew I had to move on. There
had to be another part of France where I could have a mixture of
the cosmopolitan (I do not believe in cellphones, so I needed a
place with a proper phone line) and the Frenchness, and I had spied
the Maritime Alpine route where the Rallye des Alpes turned off.
The mission: to get to the top of the mountains overlooking the
It turned out to be an impossibility without a
French Ministry of Defence pass. The best view, a jogger told me
as I U-turned out of a dead-end road on the Alpine route, happened
to be from a military installation and the public wasn't allowed there.
But there were other towns further up and I decided to continue
to test their vibe. L'Escarène was a delightful enough place
but the traffic seemed too crowded, with holidaymakers avoiding
the autoroutes using it as a thoroughfare to get to Monaco. It was
not the first time people used the town as a thoroughfare: armies
throughout the ages have stopped there, including the Napoléonienne
troops. A strategic point on the salt route half an hour from Italyindeed,
it is very Italianateand 90 minutes from ski fields, L'Escarène
had been there for 600 years and would outlast any form of traffic
that passed through.
I could have stayed there myself, but narrower
lanes further up beckoned, challenging that masculine drive of finding
harmony between man and machine. If I had more time, I would have
seen a potential hike and camping ground. For now, I accepted the
motorists challenge, knowing that I would find one of the
most fun routes in France.