Day 2 – 416 km: Col de l’Iseran and Mont Centis

After Great and Little St Bernard Pass the journey continued to one of the roads I looked forward to the most – Col de l’Iseran. The three highest and probably also most famous French mountain passes in this region of the French Alps – Col du Galibier, Col de l’Iseran and Col de la Bonette – have been on my wishlist for long. This year I managed to drive two of them, Col du Galibier with the Jaguar F-Type Coupe R and Col de l’Iseran with the Nissan 370Z Nismo.

Read the first part of Day 2, driving Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard and Col du Petit St. Bernard, here

[ale_divider style=”thin” text=”textcenter”] Col de l’Iseran 2770m [/ale_divider]

Nissan 370Z Nismo Col de lIseran

I now understand why people love Col de l’Iseran. To be honest I have now driven most of the major mountain passes in the Alps and it takes quite a lot to wow me these days. Col de l’Iseran, which also is the highest paved pass in the Alps (13m higher than Stelvio Pass), is not the most beautiful road in the Alps but it certainly has majestic landscapes. I drove Col de l’Iseran from north to south and it is a great drive. First of all the views from that road are just spectacular – waterfalls, tunnels, high mountains, deep valleys. After you pass the town Val-d’Isère which is at almost 1900m and continue your drive up you have a panorama valley landscape on your right with an amazing view down to Val-d’Isère. Col de l’Iseran is not that twisty, some hairpin bends but most of them were the kind of turns where you see if something is coming down or up. It has also several long straights so Col de l’Iseran is a road you can drive pretty fast (it is not a hairpin bend after hairpin bend road like Stelvio), and probably with even more confidence to push the car the second time you go and know what to expect.

Nissan 370Z Nismo Alps

370Z Nismo Iseran

[ale_divider style=”thin” text=”textcenter”] Col du Mont Cenis 2083m[/ale_divider]

Afternoon sun 370Z Nismo

After Col de l’Iseran I was heading to Italy so a left turn from D902 took me up on D1006 which is Col du Mont Cenis 2038m. The second part after the lake and just before the border to Italy has much tighter hairpin bends and better landscapes for photos. But to be honest whatever direction you drive it from you will be pleased when you arrive to the top and see Lac du Mont Cenis, this is the most beautiful section of the road. That lake is dreamlike.

Sunshine Mont Cenis

Mont Cenis

View over Mont Cenis Lake

Whatever happened after I crossed the border to Italy is still a mystery even to myself. I typed Ceresoale Reale in the navigation, because that was the last town with proper hotels before my next road destination – Colle del Nivolet. And if anyone is looking at hotels there, Hotel La Casa del Re was newly renovated and really nice. However before finding it I ended up on some really small roads that definitely did not take me in the right direction. Because I had to reroute my journey I arrived in Ceresoale Reale when it was completely black outside…

Night drive

…But oh that tunnel, without traffic in the silent night… You drive on a completely empty road in the darkness, without any clue where you are, and then you suddenly see this in front of you… What a reward after a long day.

370Z Nismo tunnel

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Written by Sara Norris
I'm Sara - a petrolhead, journalist, blogger, and photographer - with a passion for exploring the world's greatest driving roads in the best driver's cars. I'm the founder and CEO of the luxury driving tour company Colcorsa. At Colcorsa we create for our customers bespoke driving tours – an exclusive supercar driving experience on some of the best driving roads in Europe, in your dream performance car or classic car.