GSTAAD CANNES RALLY – waypoint AT CHATEAU ROBERNIER
A race of one thousand miles that used to go down half of Italy from Brescia and back to Brescia via Rome. For the petrolheads amongst us, they will recognise Sir Stirling Moss as being the ultimate champion of this course, taking an incredible 10 hours to cover the open roads, an unbelievable average (and let’s not understate this – an average) of 100 mph!
What is maybe not as well documented is that all of them at the time were doing similar things in their period Ferraris, Porsches, BMWs and Alfa Romeos, amongst other exotic names of times gone by.
The race was suspended after a couple of horrific crashes that claimed the lives of the competitors and, more importantly, spectators. The speeds were simply too great on what were just two-lane public roads.
This was in the 1950s. Times were a little different, and quite possibly we were all exploring the limits in all endeavours.
The Mille Miglia lives on – in spirit – as an endurance road rally event. Timed sections of the course cover about three days and the emphasis is not on ultimate speed but on precision.
Arriving at a checkpoint exactly – or as close to – a specific time to cover the distance. All in (very) good form, driving period classic sportscars, having lunch in picturesque surroundings and generally enjoying the kindred spirit of a good weekend on the road in an old(er) automobile.
Thus we find ourselves at Chateau Robernier in Provence. It is a classic in itself, set in the hills near the village of Cotignac in the Var region.
Pointed spires reach upward from each corner and the view from the front doors takes in vineyards of equally classic red grapes that are expertly turned into a classic rosé wine. There’s a lot of class going on here…
A perfect setting then for a lunch stop by a similarly classic road rally, inspired perhaps as many others, by the Mille Miglia. This one is from Gstaad to Cannes. Some excellent scenery is to be enjoyed and many a mountain pass to be conquered.
To be enjoyed to a similar extent is the lunch prepared at Chateau Robernier. By the same token Victoria and I are there to provide liquid refreshment in the form of the Mirabeau rosé. Class all around, I imagine.
As a bit of a petrolhead, I will admit to being utterly seduced by the metal on display. Vintages from the 30s, 40s and 50s of Italian, German and British descent. And all having owners of infectious enthusiasm. Bright-eyed, eager and full of passion.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get many good snapshots of these wonderful examples of automotive art. But a small video will suffice to remind me of just how good the old classics were (and still are).
Gentlemen, start your engines!