Arrivederci Italia, Bonjour La France – Annecy, Haut-Savoie, France

We were on the road at 07:30 this morning all van servicing done, ready for our next adventures in France. We have had a fabulous time in Italy, although we are leaving behind lots to come back and see at another time, especially in mainland Italy. We did a pretty thorough tour of Sardinia, when our stay was extended by a cancelled ferry, but we would go back there again anyway because we really liked it 😁😎

Our Travels in Italy

It was a decent trip to the Mount Blanc tunnel even though we had to skirt both Milan and Turin at rush hour, but despite fairly heavy traffic and the usual Italian style of driving, traffic flowed smoothly. We passed through multiple tunnels and we reached the far west of Italy where the place names were distinctly French sounding as the borders have no doubt shifted. We navigated the French / Italian signs to the right lane and pay booth for among Blanc tunnel. We were told by the helpful toll booth man he would need to check our height. It is 2.7x more expensive to be over 3m and we expected to pay that, as according to Hymer we are 305cm. However the man came out from the booth with his L-shaped measuring stick and ruled us to be under 3m. Result!

Entering Monte Bianco / Mont Blanc tunnel

The tunnel itself is 11.6km long and dead straight. You pass over the France / Italy border halfway across. It is only two lanes, but imagine the fees if it was 4 lanes! They are pretty strict about maintaining distances between vehicles and seem to work a timing system to release you from the pay booths. They also set a minimum speed of 50kph and maximum of 70 kph following a fire in 1999 which killed 39 people. The tunnel passes, at a depth of 2,480m, almost directly below the Aiguille du Midi station on the top of Mont Blanc which we visited in the summer. So we have crossed our previous track in one of the deepest operational tunnels in the world. What a feat of engineering.

Mont Blanc tunnel

There had not been a lot of snow entering the tunnel, but there was quite a bit in Chamonix when we emerged. We descended down the hairpin bends and into town to the spot where we had last been in early June last year. This time though the car park had a few inches of hard packed snow. We had planned to come here for the night tonight, but had later heard of an Overlander we have been following who had arrived in Como for repairs, just as we had to leave, because they had been in Switzerland in -15degrees and the liquid in their heating system had frozen. Chamonix is forecast to be -11 degrees tonight ❄️🥶.

We are both really happy to be back in France. The Alps are so majestic, it is fabulous winter and summer and also after so much exploring it is nice to come to somewhere familiar that you have enjoyed in the past. So we were happy to at least call in at Chamonix.


We had also planned to visit a medical centre here as Kevin has a cut on his leg that is looking a little infected and we needed some antibiotics. We knew it would be easy parking and straight out the tunnel so we parked up and headed straight in. The medical centre were happy to give as an appointment as it needed seeing to and told us to come back in 2 hours. We went off for lunch and came back to be seen on time for €30 and we issued 2 prescriptions which cost €11 at the pharmacy. What a great service. We were given a receipt to claim back against our EHIC cards, as that is the system in France, but for that convenience and the wonderful service we received from the nice lady doctor, we were more than happy to pay to get it healed.


After our appointment, we decided to spend the night at Annecy which is at a much lower altitude than Chamonix and is not even forecast to freeze tonight. Although it is due to get a little light snow. So another hour of driving followed late afternoon.

As it has become a hobby of ours, we thought we would look for some LPG on route. There should have been 3 stations on route. The first was already reported as temporarily out of action. We missed the second, as I inadvertently picked the third one on the sat-nav. The third station had one pump to the side of their main petrol pumps at the back of the station with access only on one side, which was as you have guessed, the wrong side for us. The hose was not long enough and we simply could not manoeuvre to that spot against the flow of traffic. So we plumbed for the third. We had to turn right into it straight after a roundabout but there was such a big queue of cars waiting to get into it they were already queuing on the road and we could not join the back without blocking the whole roundabout. Quite why every petrol station was so busy today I have no idea, but we were tired now and figured we would wait til tomorrow to continue.

When we got to the planned parking spot it was filled with semi-resident vans and no spaces available. We have just got in before dark beside the beautiful Basilica overlooking the lake and the town. It will be a lovely view in the morning. A long but (mostly) successful day.

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